In the first part of our interview with Marlon Schrimpf, founder of Novelty Compliance, we talked about the UK’s Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill. In the second part, we will now take a look at the state of the UKCA marking.
testxchange: As a consequence of Brexit, the UK introduced the UKCA marking in order to replace the CE marking on products sold in the UK. The original deadline to comply with the new marking requirements was the end of 2022 for most products, but it was announced in November 2022 that this deadline has been extended for two more years. Marlon, in your work as a consultant for product compliance, have you observed certain challenges that companies were facing in regard to the UKCA marking? What might be a possible reason why some of them need this extension of the deadline?
Marlon Schrimpf: I'm not so sure if the extension was really necessary, because the majority of companies were ready. From what I have heard, the reason for extending the transition period was mainly to offer an easement for businesses in the UK due to the coronavirus crisis, and also in regard to the cooldown of the economy. The extension was granted to eliminate all potential obstacles for businesses selling products. Considering the economic cooldown, the extension might have even been beneficial to companies that were planning to be ready, as the planned sell out of non-marked products may not have happened as fast as planned. So for those, where the business did not go as planned, there is no need to scrap or relabel any products and the extension can be considered as overall beneficial. On the other hand, I understand that some may be frustrated because they already have scrapped materials, or even products without UKCA marking and lost revenue due to this. For sure an earlier announcement on the deadline extension would have been appreciated by everyone.
The overall transition to the UKCA marking was, at least for some cases, easy, because it was simply to add markings, change the instructions and to create a UK Declaration of Conformity. For some, depending on the conformity assessment processes that are laid down in the regulations, the change was more troublesome, as they had to additionally go to a British Notified Body. So not only marking and documentation efforts, but additional costs and troubles to obtain the type examination certificates accepted in the UK from now on.
testxchange: Do you have general advice for companies about how to act now in the face of this extension? Is it maybe now wiser to wait a little bit in case more regulation is added, for example? Or would it be wiser to get going now to complete the transition?
Marlon Schrimpf: There is no harm in doing the transition now. So, I would say if you haven't already changed your documentation, or your packaging and other marketing materials to conform with the UK requirements, then you should start now. Of course, if you still have big amounts of old marking material and packaging on stock, you should use them up first. But no new materials without the required marking should be ordered to enable the rolling change before the new deadline. As there are other new marketing requirements, like the ones in Italy and France, it could be wise to combine the changes to only change products and packaging once.
testxchange: Now that you mentioned additional markings from France and Italy, are you seeing a trend towards more individual national legislation in addition to EU regulations and directives?
Marlon Schrimpf: I wouldn't call it a trend, but some countries simply did not manage to achieve the EU recycling quotas and therefore tried to increase the amount of waste recycled by helping consumers to throw away trash correctly. It is hard to argue against the steps France and Italy have taken, but we can only hope that similar steps are not taken by any other EU member state too, as the management of all the changes is labor- and cost-intensive. Ideally the currently ongoing rework of the Waste Framework Directive will harmonize the markings on products and so the national labels will become redundant and can be removed at some point in the future.
testxchange: Marlon, thank you so much for your time. Is there any additional advice that you want to share with our readers?
Marlon Schrimpf: Cybersecurity should be a priority for many companies to look into, as this is in focus of the media and as this will likely become part of market surveillance authorities programs, once enforced. In the UK, there are many good resources directly from the Government to start looking into these matters and into the UKCA marking requirements.
If an overview of the many upcoming regulations is needed or if specific questions on matters arise, I can be contacted via LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/marlon-schrimpf) or more of my work can be found on www.novelty-compliance.eu .