Russia: Extended producer responsibility lies with trademark owners

A letter issued by the Russian environmental protection authority (RosPrirodNadzor) No. AC-10-02-36/13739 dated 28 June 2017, explains that it is the trademark owner who is responsible for compliance with the recycling targets or for paying the environmental charge in relation to products and packaging they have placed on the Russian market.

Currently a vast number of manufacturers (e.g. textile manufacturers, petrochemical processing industry, tyre industry, etc.) are working pursuant to the “off-take” system and with customer-supplied raw materials. During this process, the terms “manufacturer” and “customer” are used. However, none of the current Russian statutory instruments provides a clear definition of the term “manufacturer”.

It is important to note, that a manufacturer (a plant) may render product manufacturing services pursuant to a contract and may use equipment and raw materials (including customer-supplied raw materials) belonging to the owner of the trademark under which the product is released on the market. The contract will normally set out provisions regulating the obligations of the two contracting parties, including the provision determining which party has the right of ownership to the finished products.

If the contract does not regulate these issues, the Russian environmental protection authority (RosPrirodNadzor) is required to consider the following: when the manufacturing facility provides manufacturing services, it receives a fixed payment for such services and has no further right of ownership to the manufactured goods.

This means that the trademark owner has the full ownership rights to the manufactured products and has the right to sell these products and therefore – has the obligation to take them back for the purpose of recycling.

Based on the above, the extended producer responsibility is to lie with the trademark owners. It is them who are required to fulfil the set recycling targets for the products and packaging they place on the market and to submit the relevant reports. At the same time, the product manufacturing facility may take this responsibility but this has to be reflected in the contract between this facility and the trademark owner.