Sourcing Spotlight: Product Compliance Beyond the EU

Product Compliance has become increasingly important in the ever-changing marketplace, as customers will only be confident in those which comply strictly to regulations. With such emphasis in mind, NewsBites took the chance to talk to Caspar ter Horst, Co-Founder & Managing Director of ProductIP, to shed light on product compliance from his 25+ years of expertise in this field.

Having experiences in supporting companies in the supply chain of non-food consumer goods in China and Europe to comply with the EU requirements, and seeing the increasingly complex regulatory landscape, Caspar and his co-founders set up ProductIP (which stands for Information Platform, and web address as well) to share compliance insights with the vast industry players. 

Know Your Brand & Business Model

With such rich product compliance background, Caspar believes the first thing is to ensure that your team is clear about what your brand worthiness stands for. As long as there is clarity in the company, it is easier to steer the company. It will be much helpful to conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis listing out your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and re-evaluate your business case regularly to place product compliance on your corporate agenda.

Caspar shared his views on the changing global compliance landscape during a face-to-face interview.

Product Compliance: Challenges & Opportunities

From a compliance point of view, the industry outlook could be more optimistic. Business owners should step back from the daily hassle and look at what Caspar described as a “Regulatory Tsunami”, one which implies not only hundreds of new regulations, but also more significant commercial trends: supply chain and due diligence transparency, the move towards a circular economy, and so on…the key is: Companies should be agile and get into a proactive mode!

Latest EU Compliance: Battery & Packaging Wastes Regulations

Maximize Battery Use Before It’s Too Early

Battery and Packaging Wastes Regulations are probably areas of concerns lately, and Caspar pointed out Electric Vehicles (EV), and Small and Light Means of Transport such as Scooters would be most impacted by the updated Battery Waste Regulation. On top of these, Power Storage Systems which consume most of the certified batteries will also be affected. Caspar foresees a lack of sufficient battery supplies from a certified supply chain, and advised that we should not throw away perfectly good products just because the battery is dead – redesigns and retests are feasible solutions.

Caspar at the Electronics Fair, one of the industries most affected by the latest Battery Waste Regulation.

Packaging Compliance Closely Linked to Sustainability

As for the Packaging Waste Regulation, Caspar believed Everyone will feel the impact as ALL products have packaging elements! In particular, drastic changes are likely to be there, for example:

  • Product Claims:

    Marketers like to make claims about recycled packaging materials, compostable materials, eco-materials, etc. Greenwashing is no longer allowed unless the claims come from a certified supply chain!

  • Circular Economy:
    There will be thresholds for the percentage of recycled materials used in packaging, which will increase over time. Certified recycled materials are still limited in availability and are still (or, as a result) more expensive than virgin materials.

Companies should have had an active policy in reducing the packaging footprint for decades before now – since we have too many packaging formats and 1st, 2nd, and Nth-tier packaging suppliers involved. Most companies need to start limiting the scale of the problem first. 

Read More:

Can ‘Green’ Product Claims Be Trusted?

Integrating ESG or Sustainability in Product Compliance

Talking about circular economy, the packaging rule, or compliance at large, in fact closely relates to Environmental Protection, or Eco-friendliness. To Caspar, Sustainability is part of brand worthiness rather than part of regulations – make it genuine and part of marketing communication, as you must be transparent about this and tell the world about your brand’s ESG/CSR aspects. 

Take Electronics as an example:

Start focusing on the use of recycled plastic materials (casings) from certified sources. As electronics have packaging as well, focus on packaging.
Next would be repairability. If the product has batteries, you’ll have to focus on the battery-related aspects, as mentioned earlier.

It will also help to meet as many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations as possible – no single goal should be isolated.

Think from customers' perspective: we are all consumers at the end of the day!

Advice to SMEs on Compliance

Wrapping up the conversation, Caspar addressed some of the concerns that small businesses have: some would read the above as “only applies to large companies and not yet to SMEs.” But remember: after all, who supplies the large companies? Who will be the first to face the compliance issues? There is no excuse for SMEs to ignore these trends!

For those engaging in manufacturing, sourcing and supply chain, whether large or small enterprises, Caspar advised mapping your 1st- and 2nd-tier suppliers. Check against the following questions:

  • Who are they?
  • What are they doing/supplying to you?
  • Do you have a copy of their business license?
  • Where are they based (geolocation)?
  • What contact persons do you have besides the commercial level: QA/QC, ESG/CSR, and Management?

Watch the Video Q&A Now!

About the Interviewee

Picture of Caspar ter Horst – Managing Director, ProductIP

Caspar ter Horst – Managing Director, ProductIP

Caspar has 25+ years of experience in product compliance. In 2008, he co-founded ProductIP together with Maarten van der Dussen. Caspar and his team are dedicated to support companies within the supply chain to efficiently demonstrate to customers, authorities, and users that their products meet applicable legislation and buying requirements. As a result, helping companies reduce costs, streamline operations, manage suppliers, and at the same time put compliant, safer, more sustainable products to the market.

At HKTDC, we value product compliance as much as Caspar does! Visit our e-Marketplace today to find out more: