Spain, among the first countries in Europe to control third-country imports of electrical and electronic equipment

Until a little over a month ago, no European state-controlled imports of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE), batteries, and accumulators (P&As) from third countries.

Most of these products violate several European regulations regarding the manufacturing, marketing, and use of hazardous substances. In addition, they fail to properly dispose of waste generated at the end of their useful life.

Javier Martinez, President of the ETIRA Association, stated that manufacturers of these devices from non-EU countries are not even required to register for waste generation tax.

In order to regulate the importation of electronic equipment, Spain has issued Royal Decree 993/2022

Following European directives that encourage the adoption of measures to manage EEE waste, Spain decided to act to regulate the importation of electronic equipment. This was done by ensuring that it complied with existing European legislation regarding the use of hazardous substances and the disposal of waste.

Spanish Royal Decree 993/2022, which came into force on 16 January 2023, was approved on 29 November 2022 to regulate the import of electrical and electronic equipment, batteries, and accumulators from third countries.

This makes Spain the first European country to regulate the entry of such products. These products are generally made up of components and parts composed of various materials that can become hazardous waste at the end of their life cycles.

Royal Decree 993/2022 specifies how the SOIVRE Inspection Service will carry out its controls. It also specifies what types of products will be subject to verification and what types will be excluded.

As part of the decree, controls will be managed at the Single Entry Point ROHS/RAEEs (PUE ROHS/RAEEs), a pioneering system in the European Union. As a result, safe goods will circulate faster and more effectively. This will save time and work in product controls, and verifying goods that enter Spain to ensure they will not pose an environmental problem.

With this system, the State Tax Administration Agency will be the single entry point for applications and the presentation of documents for the SOIVRE Inspection Service. In addition, the exit point for responses and resolutions for the interested party will be the same. This is so the entire communication flow can be channeled into one place.

In addition, manufacturers will also be able to streamline control management through DOCUCICE’s document repository. This document repository will allow manufacturers to submit in advance the technical documentation for the product life cycle, which will be valid for all imports.

Compliance with European regulations is required for EEE and P&A

In order to protect Europe from hazardous products manufactured with hazardous substances like cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBDEs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBBs), Royal Decree 993/2022 is an essential measure. As stated in the same decree, if not properly treated in electrical and electronic equipment recycling systems, these substances may pose a threat to human health and the environment, polluting soil, water, and air.

The measures apply to all electrical and electronic equipment imported into Spain from a non-EU country, including printing equipment, from which materials used during manufacture can be highly polluting or even flammable.

Under the decree, all EEE and P&A entering Spain must follow European regulations that previously applied only to EU devices: Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS), Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the registration, evaluation, authorization, and restriction of chemical substances and mixtures (REACH), Regulation (EC)  No 1272/2008 on the classification, labeling, and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures (CLP) as well as Regulation No 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Additionally, the decree will allow the Spanish authorities to verify that European companies that place EEE on the Spanish market follow the WEEE Directive.

EEE importers will also be required to appoint a Spanish representative or producer to comply with the obligation to register on the Integrated Industrial Register. As a result of this measure, importers will have to assume responsibility for devices they market in Spain.

The move marks a turning point in the printer and consumables market

When Javier Martinez, president of the ETIRA Association, requested a meeting with Spanish Customs in November 2019 about the import of new non-OEM cartridges that may violate RoHS and REACH regulations, the conversation about controlling the import of electrical and electronic equipment in Europe had already started.

During the meeting, it was noted that the law in force at the time did not allow EU member states to detain goods at the border. This is because the importer was not considered responsible for the products.

This changes with Royal Decree 993/2022, since importers of cartridges and other devices, are also required to register on the Integrated Industrial Register. This makes them subject to WEEE regulations as if they were manufacturers.

For their part, cartridges, and consumables must also comply with the REACH Regulation twice. This is because their plastic bottles and toner powder cannot contain substances that are hazardous to human health and the environment.

In his opinion, these controls have marked a significant improvement in the printer and consumables markets in Spain, and they «provide opportunities to eliminate certain practices and create a fair and sustainable single market, which facilitates reindustrialization of the continent, generates thousands of jobs, and exposes cheating and non-compliance actors».

According to the president of ETIRA, all EU member states should require that EEE and P&A from third countries comply with the requirements set forth in the European regulation. This will enable us to avoid bringing polluting and environmentally harmful equipment into Europe.

The law will protect consumers, benefit the environment, and reinforce the commitments of companies that comply with regulations. It will also contribute to a greener and safer Europe by controlling the import of potentially hazardous equipment.

For his thoughts on the news, we spoke with José Angel Muñoz, Chief Operating Officer at GM Technology:

«Our country is a pioneer in controlling goods entering the European Union from third countries, where traditionally any product, regardless of quality, or certification could freely enter.

By implementing this regulation, we hope to ensure that products on our territory comply with corresponding standards and that users have access to products that are regulated and certified.

As a result of the control of unauthorized cartridges and equipment, we will be able to stimulate the remanufacturing industry and generate more jobs in the local area.

REACH compliance is also great news for the environment since non-compliant products will be more difficult to use, resulting in more remanufacturing and a smaller carbon footprint.

Our country is in the process of implementing brand-new regulations thanks to ETIRA’s immeasurable work, which aims at maximizing control of components used in cartridges and equipment, improving customer experience, reducing CO2 emissions, encouraging local employment, and combating e-waste landfills».



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