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Rachel MacLeod

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Rachel MacLeod is a senior associate in Baker McKenzie's London office. She advises companies on the "cradle-to-grave" regulation of a broad range of products sold on the EU and UK markets. She also advise companies on how to comply with their operational environmental and health & safety obligations.

In a major shakeup to businesses’ obligations relating to human rights, environmental standards and climate change, the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive is set to become law.
In this article, we focus on the nature of the due diligence obligations: what is required in terms of diligence, what types of impacts are covered, etc.

On 29 November 2023, the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2023 (“Regulations”), came into force, implementing a number of changes to Phase 3 of the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme which requires in scope organizations to undertake a mandatory energy assessment of their UK energy consumption. As a result of the changes introduced by the Regulations, participants are required to include more information in the Phase 3 notifications of compliance that they are required to submit to the Environment Agency to confirm that they have completed their energy assessment.

The new EU Deforestation Regulation (2023/1115/EU) will impose due diligence obligations from 30 December 2024 aimed at tackling deforestation and forest degradation. The Regulation will require companies dealing in in-scope products to undertake due diligence into the source of a wide range of commodities, including cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm-oil, rubber, soya and wood, to ensure that they have not been obtained as a result of deforestation.

Countries are approaching plastics regulation in different ways. Measures that have been proposed and adopted vary and include imposing plastic taxes, bans on single-use plastics, microbead bans, deposit return schemes, and consumer charges to discourage consumption (e.g., carrier bag charges). At an international level, in 2022, a UN resolution was endorsed to end plastic pollution and propose an international legally binding agreement by 2024.

The new EU Deforestation Regulation (2023/1115/EU) will impose due diligence obligations from 30 December 2024 aimed at tackling deforestation and forest degradation. The Regulation will require companies dealing in in-scope products to undertake due diligence into the source of a wide range of commodities, including cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm-oil, rubber, soya and wood, to ensure that they have not been obtained as a result of deforestation.

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new online content hub, the Product Risk Radar. The hub includes the latest important legal developments in product regulatory and liability risk impacting the UK and EU and we will post regular updates to help you navigate this increasingly challenging landscape. The areas covered include regulatory requirements, product liability and market surveillance and general product safety.

On 25 July 2023 the UK government announced that increased extended producer responsibility (EPR) fees for packaging waste will be deferred by a year from October 2024 to 2025. In the same week the government also launched a consultation on the draft legislation to implement the new EPR regime which will include the introduction of mandatory packaging recyclability markings for the UK market.

On 1 August 2023, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) announced an indefinite extension to the use of CE marking in Great Britain beyond the previous 31 December 2024 deadline, giving businesses flexibility to choose between the CE marking and the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) marking for the Great Britain market for the foreseeable future.

The announcement covers the regulations falling within DBT’s remit including the regimes applicable to toys, EMC, radio equipment, PPE, machinery and LVD. It confirms that other government departments will communicate their plans in respect of other CE/UKCA marking regimes (such as Ecodesign and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)) in due course.

On 28 July 2023, Regulation (EU) 2023/1542 concerning batteries and waste batteries was published in the Official Journal. The new Regulation repeals and replaces the existing Batteries Directive (2006/66/EC) and seeks to make all batteries placed on the EU market more durable, safe, sustainable, and efficient. It takes the extended producer responsibility (EPR) regime created by the existing Directive and expands it significantly through the introduction of more detailed mandatory design, content and conformity assessment requirements aimed at ensuring the sustainability and circularity of batteries. It also introduces new mandatory supply chain due diligence requirements from August 2025 to address the social and environmental risks inherent in the extraction, processing and trading of certain raw materials and secondary raw materials used in battery manufacturing.

On 19 April 2023, the European Parliament adopted the final text of a new EU Regulation aimed at tackling deforestation and forest degradation (the “Deforestation Regulation”) requiring companies to undertake due diligence into the source of a wide range of commodities, including cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm-oil, rubber, soya and wood, to ensure…