Could your business be affected by environmental legislation overseas?

Environmental compliance outside of the UK can be a bewildering subject for many companies.

On a daily basis, I speak to various different organisations from one-person export operations and internet retailers to global blue-chip household names, and over the last three years a theme has emerged – most people aren’t sure what they need to do. This is why I enjoy my role so much – each day is different, each company has unique requirements and each country has adopted their own method of implementing compliance. This last point is the most difficult part – harmonised directives implemented in a non-harmonised fashion means you require a different understanding in every country – and that’s just within the European Union (EU)! It can be frustrating, but it’s always interesting.

The best way to ensure you don’t get caught out is to prioritise (where possible) looking into the requirements of packaging waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and waste batteries legislation in all countries in which you’re commercially active. Even if you have spent a few hours confirming that you have nothing to be concerned about it is still time well spent, as international compliance requirements are growing worldwide year on year.

Producer responsibility legislation is in place within the EU, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) region, Japan, Australia and the United States of America (USA); therefore, there are increasingly fewer countries you can sell to without having to consider producer responsibility legislation!

A good starting point is to check each country’s Environment Ministry web page for waste legislation that sounds relevant to your organisation. You could even contact them directly; however, be prepared for delayed and/or confused responses in some cases. Information found via Google searches can give you an idea of what to look out for, but don’t rely on it – legislation is constantly being introduced and amended, so any “news updates” online may become out-of-date within weeks. If you have subsidiaries in other countries, speak to them and see if they’ve looked into compliance before. Please do bear in mind that if you have operations in the USA it is similar to the EU in the sense that every state introduces their own laws.

Does all of this sound a bit daunting? If so, we can help so please do speak to our International Compliance team. Give us a call, drop us an email, or attend one of our free workshops to learn about how to approach this subject. We’re always happy to offer assistance – get it off the to-do list!