The net is closing-in for online non-compliance

A new EU regulation[1] means that online fulfilment houses will be required to take responsibility for compliance documentation, if there is no appointed manufacturers’ representative.

The new compliance and enforcement regulation

The “Regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products” requires companies to appoint an economic operator in the EU.  The economic operator must verify that compliance documentation has been prepared and is available for market surveillance authorities. 

Impact on producers

Crucially, the regulation applies to all producers of relevant products, including those located outside the EU.  If the producer is based in the EU, they are regarded, logically, as the economic operator.  But if the producer is not located in the EU, and then does not appoint an importer or authorised representative to perform this role, then the responsibility automatically falls to an online marketplace or fulfilment house, where one is involved in arranging the transaction.

Scope of the regulation

The regulation applies to an exceptionally wide range of legislation affecting electrical products, including the Low Voltage and Machinery Directives, and RoHS/REACH.  It also includes compliance with extended producer responsibility directives on WEEE, packaging and batteries.  The regulation enters into force in July 2021.

A response to sustained pressure

Commenting on the news, Recolight Chief Executive Nigel Harvey said “It is great to see online marketplaces and fulfilment houses at last being held to account where non-compliant product is sold through their platforms.  For too long, some have avoided tackling the issue, even when non-compliance has been brought to their attention.  We are delighted that the Commission and Member States have responded positively to the sustained campaign from Recolight and our European Trade Association, EucoLight to raise awareness of the problem. ”

UK system preferred

He added “Although an improvement, the proposed system is not watertight.  UK enforcement bodies could still struggle to take action against an appointed economic operator based, for example, in certain East European countries.  So, when it comes to tackling the online non-compliance of product with WEEE, packaging and batteries, we very much prefer the UK Government’s approach, as outlined in their packaging regulations consultation.  That is to make the online marketplace responsible for the compliance of all product for which it facilitates the import into the UK.  It is simpler to enforce, and less burdensome for producers based outside the EU.”

Impact of Brexit

“Clearly we do not know if the UK Government will implement the requirements of the new regulation if/when Brexit takes place.  But it certainly becomes even more important to tackle online non-compliance soon, to avoid the risk of the UK becoming a dumping ground, once the EU starts to address the issue in 2021.”

[1]               Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on market surveillance and compliance of products and amending Directive 2004/42/EC and Regulations (EC) No 765/2008 and (EU) No 305/2011

About Recolight

Recolight is the leading UK WEEE compliance scheme for the lighting industry, taking on responsibility for its members’ WEEE compliance, giving their customers access to the UK’s most comprehensive free lamp collection and recycling service, and helping to ensure that as many lamps as possible are kept out of landfill.

Recolight’s comprehensive offering makes it the preferred WEEE scheme for the lighting industry, setting the standard for the sector. It is the only WEEE compliance scheme in the UK to provide integrated Lamp and Luminaire collection and recycling. It has the biggest UK-wide network of collection points for all WEEE lighting. As a result, since its founding in 2007, Recolight has funded the recycling of over 300 million lamps, LEDs and luminaires, more than all other UK WEEE schemes put together.

visit the Recolight website or follow Recolight on Twitter @Recolight


About Nigel Harvey

Nigel has worked in the Product Compliance Industry since 1990 in a variety of senior management roles covering marketing, business development, and operational management. Nigel joined Recolight as Chief Executive and Company Secretary in 2009. He is very active in both the lighting and WEEE sector.

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