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Rachel MacLeod

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Rachel MacLeod is a senior associate in Baker McKenzie's London office.

On 15 September, during the 2021 State of the Union Address, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Commission’s intention to introduce a ban on the import of products made with forced labour into the EU market. In her Address, the Commission President noted that there are “25 million people…who are threatened or coerced into forced labour” and that “doing business around the world…can never be done at the expense of people’s dignity and freedom”.

On 12 July the European Commission and the European External Actions Service (EEAS) published guidance on “due diligence for EU businesses to address the risk of forced labour in their operations and supply chains”. The non-binding guidance seeks to provide European companies with practical advice on the implementation of effective human rights due diligence practices to address forced labour risks in their supply chains.

On 12 July, the European Commission and the European External Actions Service published guidance on “due diligence for EU businesses to address the risk of forced labor in their operations and supply chains.” The non-binding guidance seeks to provide European companies with practical advice on the implementation of effective human rights due diligence practices to address forced labor risks in their supply chains.

On 1 July 2021, the majority of the provisions in the UK’s Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations 2021 came into force ensuring the UK’s Ecodesign regime remains aligned to the EU’s regime post-Brexit. It introduces tighter rules for how much energy white goods, such as washing machines, can use and sets out new ‘right to repair’ rules which impose a legal obligation on manufacturers to make spare parts and repair and maintenance information for particular appliances available in order to facilitate repairs. Manufacturers will have to incorporate ‘reparability’ into their designs and processes to ensure compliance with the new rules.

On 12 July the European Commission and the European External Actions Service (EEAS) published guidance on “due diligence for EU businesses to address the risk of forced labour in their operations and supply chains”. The non-binding guidance seeks to provide European companies with practical advice on the implementation of effective human rights due diligence practices to address forced labour risks in their supply chains. It also provides an overview of international standards and principles on responsible business conduct and due diligence relevant to combatting forced labour, including the OECD Due Diligence Guidance For Responsible Business Conduct (the OECD Guidelines), the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) fundamental conventions.

The UK government has recently published further information about its proposed Plastic Packaging Tax that will apply to plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic content from 1 April 2022. This latest information is intended to help businesses prepare while the relevant primary legislation, the Finance Bill 2021, is considered by Parliament. Companies who manufacture in, or import into, the UK 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging over a 12-month period will need to register and account for the tax at the rate of GBP 200 per metric tonne of packaging containing less than 30% recycled content. Record-keeping requirements will still apply even if the 10-tonne threshold is not met.

The UK government has recently published further information about its proposed Plastic Packaging Tax that will apply to plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled plastic content from 1 April 2022. This latest information is intended to help businesses prepare while the relevant primary legislation, the Finance Bill 2021, is considered by Parliament.

On 10 December 2020, the European Commission published its proposal for a new Sustainable Batteries Regulation (“Regulation”), as part of its wider strategy for a climate-neutral, resource-efficient EU economy. The draft legislative proposal aims to ensure that all batteries placed on the EU market are sustainable, circular and safe, by introducing specific requirements across different stages of the product life cycle as well as new CE marking requirements for batteries. It represents a sweeping overhaul of the existing regulatory framework for batteries in the EU, with potentially significant implications for manufacturers, producers, importers and distributors of batteries and products containing batteries.