With the success of internet trade which enables the (private and commercial) consumer to buy directly at a seller without visiting a stationary trade, more and more goods under EPR are sold via this distribution channel, often with a seller outside the jurisdiction where the user has its seat, or even outside the European Union.
This has been boosted by the success of trading platforms like eBay, Amazon, etc. which makes it extremely easy for a consumer to find his seller of preference. The OECD has seen a growth in business in internet trade from 2014 to 2017 by over 60% in 8 major EU economies (150 to 230 billion €).
Even more than before, this sector is not very compliant with EPR obligations (but also with VAT and other tax obligations) which leads to an increasing amount of free riding in national EPR systems. Free riding is also leading to an increased burden for those companies who are complying with their obligations, meaning that they have to pay indirectly the fees of the free riders as well. For the WEEE sector, the non-store EEE retail in the EU is thought to be >30% of the market so that the problem has reached a point where the competent authorities but also the value chain, including the selling platforms / fulfilment houses, have to take action to avoid the collapsing of the first EPR system.
The new Waste Framework Directive has recognized this challenge by setting out the minimum requirements for EPR schemes (Article 8a), also especially for this distance selling sector:
“Member States shall establish an adequate monitoring and enforcement framework with a view to ensuring that the producers of products and organisations implementing extended producer responsibility obligations on behalf of producers, implement their extended producer responsibility obligations, including in the case of distance sales, the financial means are properly used and all actors involved in the implementation of the schemes report reliable data.”
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