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Environmental Contribution, Take-Back Obligation and Environmental Permits? This Is What You Need to Know If You Start a Webshop.

You are launching a brand-new webshop and will be selling electric devices and gadgets that run on batteries. Do you need to pay an environmental contribution? What permits do you need? What do you need to know before you start? Our frequently-asked-questions will guide you through it.

Do you need to pay an Environmental contribution?

For many products, such as electric appliances, batteries, packaging, etc., there is an obligation to take them back or a take-back obligation. This means that if your webshop buys products abroad to sell on the Belgian market, you are responsible for the collection and recycling of the product once it is discarded. This also applies to the packaging. As a webshop, you can choose to organise the collection of the discarded products yourself and report on this to the authorities. This is quite a task, for which most businesses call upon the services of management bodies such as Recupel, Bebat, Fost Plus and Valipac that take charge of the collection, recycling and reporting. For that service, you pay an environmental contribution. In exchange, they ensure that discarded products are given a new life. A brief overview of the relevant organisations in Belgium is provided below:

  • Recupel organises the collection and processing of discarded electric appliances and lightbulbs in Belgium.

  • Bebat takes care of the collection, sorting and recycling of used batteries. A contribution is also payable for batteries that are built into devices.

  • Fost Plus is responsible for promoting, coordinating and financing the selective collection, sorting and recycling of household packaging waste in Belgium.

  • Valipac focuses on industrial packaging waste.

 

Bebat takes care of the collection, sorting and recycling of used batteries.

 

What if my webshop is based abroad?

As a foreign webshop that sells to Belgian consumers, you are required to join the above-mentioned management bodies or to file your own reports with the Belgian authorities on how you organise the collection or acceptance of your discarded products for your customers. For more information, you can contact the above organisations directly.

Do I need an environmental permit?

As a webshop, you normally do not need an environmental permit, unless you carry out an activity for which you would require a permit off-line as well. Companies that store hazardous waste (products bearing the danger pictogram), work with such waste or produce chemical waste, for example.

In order to know for sure whether you need a permit, surf on over to a handy tool by VLAREM (Flemish Regulation on Environmental Permits) or ask for advice from your business counter or from UNIZO or COMEOS.

checklist VLAREM

Are there other permits that I do need to apply for?

That all depends on the type of e-shop that you are opening. For instance, if you are selling food, then you need to apply for a permit from the FASFC. If you sell alcoholic drinks, there is another set of rules and authorisations.

Important: are you planning to attend public markets regularly with your products so as to give your webshop more visibility? In that case, you are engaging in “mobile trading” and need to apply for a vendor's card.

Present your webshop's business plan to your business counter. They know about which specific permit is needed for your product.


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