International Eco-Fresh Products: The Challenge of Exporting

Today, companies are increasingly aware of the importance of assuming their environmental responsibilities. Whether they like it or not, it is no longer a matter of choice because in Québec and internationally, many regulations are in place to govern the responsible management of products. The meeting is therefore becoming mandatory.

As an entrepreneur, you probably know that environmental compliance is not a simple matter. Many of you are well aware of provincial and national regulations. But what happens when your products are destined for export? What about the different environmental compliance requirements?

An Evolving Industry In The USA

To the south, Maine is the first state to vote to implement an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR program) that will require producers to pay for recycling their products. Every item on the market will soon be subject to an annual fee imposed by a new producer responsibility organization, based on the amount and type of packaging used.

In the states of New Jersey and Washington, recently sanctioned laws frame the responsibility of producers using plastic packaging, such as bags and bottles. As of April 2022, Washington requires these producers to register and pay annual fees based on different product categories. Beginning in 2023, these businesses will also have to incorporate a certain percentage of post-consumer recycled content. Starting at 15%, the rate will gradually increase to 50% within a decade or so, or they will be denied access to the market. Similarly, New Jersey's new regulatory framework calls for an annual fee for similar product categories (plastic packaging) beginning in July 2022 and a percentage of post-consumer recycled content starting in 2024.

Such regulations require more monitoring, including a declaration of the various materials in the product, precise data collection systems and, overall, greater flexibility to adapt on the part of companies. They therefore need to devote more time, management effort and budgets—all while running more risks. How much to pay? To whom? How to be compliant? These questions are far from simple to answer and for which you will probably need some help.

Multiple Realities In Europe

In the wake of a recent amendment to its law on electrical and electronic appliances (ElektroG3), Germany is in the process of banning access to its markets for producers in this industry who do not meet their obligations. For example, an online sales platform will have to ensure that the companies active on its site are registered with the stiftung ear (register of old electrical appliances). For example, a company that manufactures flashlights or razors could face penalties of more than 200,000 euros if it fails to make the required declaration about the packaging of its products or to provide a collection system for its end-of-life products.

In France, according to the 2020 AGEC law, producers must join together in eco-organizations or propose an individual structure with specific eco-design, collection and recycling targets for their products. Since 2021, law violators have faced fines of up to 7,500 euros for each ton of product involved.

In Greece, the Hellenic Recovery and Recycling Organization requires the proper declaration of paper and plastics contained in packaging, according to specific subcategories, which include multi-material packaging. In Spain, a colour code is now required for all glass packaging. In short, the requirements are multiplying. It's best to be on the lookout and, above all, well informed.

Be Well-Prepared

Corporate environmental responsibility efforts are paramount, but they must also be managed rigorously to limit their financial impact. The growing scope and complexity of environmental legislation worldwide can negatively affect the profitability of your export operations through costly and time-consuming management.

Regulations vary not only from one country to another but also according to the type of business, product or clientele. This is why it is imperative to call upon a firm specialized in eco-taxation to guide you through this regulatory maze.