Selling products online - should you pay a product fee?

Many companies that sell products online are unaware of the packaging obligations associated with shipping.
Author:
Maria Hyży-Grimau

A lack of awareness with recovery and recycling obligations does not exempt from liability for the failure to submit annual reports, pay fees (for the absence of recycling), and adhere to other obligations for a period of 5 years from the date of the obligation’s emergence.

What is the product fee?

The product fee is a penalty for the failure to achieve recovery and recycling levels of packaged products introduced into the Polish market. This also applies to packaging products are put into before being sent to the end customer (physical person), such as clothing, toys, building materials, and many others.

The obligation to recover and recycle arises when entrepreneurs introduce products in cardboard or plastic stretch wrappers, pallets, and send them by mail or courier to a client. All these packages should be counted, recorded and weighed to establish the level of recycling and recovery, and to set the fee for educational campaigns.

Important: The establishment of the BDO database has sealed the system for checking entrepreneurs! The Marshal's Office has greater capability to check whether obligations arising from the introduction of packaged products were fulfilled in the previous year.

Sanctions

In regards to introducing packaged products:

  • for not keeping records of packaging in which products were placed on the Polish market,
  • for not obtaining an official entry in the register

you must be aware of a penalty ranging from PLN 10,000 to PLN 500,000 imposed by the Regional Inspector for Environmental Protection.

Failure to pay the product fee may result in financial penalties ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of zlotys.

Deadline

The product fee for the previous year must be paid by March 15 to the account of the Marshal's Office appropriate to the location of the company. In case of foreign companies, it is the account of the Marshal's Office in Warsaw.

Example No. 1

An entrepreneur runs a small store with clothes, which he sells stationary and online via a popular online platform. He buys goods from Italy, which come in large cardboard boxes and plastic bags. After selling online, he packs the products in cardboard and sends them to the customer through a courier service.

The entrepreneur becomes a party introducing packaged products due to the packaging with which intra-Community acquisitions of products are made, and due to the packaging in which clothes being sold to the customers are packed. As such, the entrepreneur has the following obligations:

  • Registering in the BDO system;
  • Ensuring an appropriate level of recovery and recycling of packaging in which the clothes have been shipped from abroad and in which the clothes are then packed, and transferring 2% of the value of the packaging to educational campaigns - it can be done by signing an agreement with a recovery organization;
  • Keeping records of packaging in which products were introduced in a given calendar year;
  • If the recovery and recycling level is not ensured, a product fee calculated on the basis of the amount of packaging in which the clothes were sold must be paid (calculated on the basis of kg);
  • Maintain documentation including registration number;
  • Preparing an annual report on packaged products;
  • If an entrepreneur sells clothes in plastic bags in a store, there is an obligation to collect the recycling fee from the customers and pay the recycling fee to the account of the Marshal's Office after the end of the quarter. It is also necessary to keep records of plastic bags purchased and issued and to prepare an annual report.

Example No. 2

An entrepreneur runs a building materials store and sells cement, tiles and building tools online. Materials are bought from various sources, some from Poland and some from other European Union countries. The online sales are conducted through a popular online platform. The entrepreneur packs the tools in additional foil and cardboard before making a shipment to the customer. In a stationary store, at checkout, building materials are packed in disposable plastic bags. The entrepreneur is introducing packaged products and therefore has the following obligations:

  • Registering in the BDO system;
  • Ensuring an appropriate level of recovery and recycling of packaging in which building materials and tools are ordered and in which they are sent to customers, and transferring 2% of the packaging value for educational campaigns - this may be done by signing an agreement with a recovery organization;
  • Keeping records of packaging in which products were introduced in a given calendar year;
  • Maintaining documentation including the registration number;
  • In case the level of recovery and recycling is not ensured, a product fee calculated on the grounds of the quantity of packaging in which the products were sold must be paid (calculated on the basis of kg);
  • Preparation of an annual report on packaged products;
  • In the stationary store, due to plastic bags, the entrepreneur has an obligation to collect the recycling fee from the customer, keep records, pay the recycling fee to the account of the Marshal's Office, and prepare an annual report.

As a result of the introduction of electric and electronical construction tools, as well as tools that contain batteries, company owners have a vast array of ensuing obligations specified, among others, by the Act on Used Electronical Equipment or the Act on Batteries.

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