What are the environmental obligations of entrepreneurs?

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Running a business is always associated with specific obligations on the part of the entrepreneur. In fact, they relate to various areas of life, including such an important issue as environmental protection. So let's check what are the environmental obligations of entrepreneurs.

Waste management and economic activity

A large part of the economic activities performed in Poland is related to the production and provision of services that result in the creation of the so-called environmental waste. We are, of course, talking about companies which, as a result of their activities, may pollute nature, creating, among others, materials and production fluids, which are then released into the environment.

In order to counteract the negative effects of such actions, the Polish legislator introduced provisions regulating the principles of waste management in Poland. Let us remember that they also appeared as a result of European Union regulations, which forces Member States to comply with environmental regulations.

Polish entrepreneurs who produce industrial waste are required to fulfill a number of different obligations, mainly of an administrative nature. From 2021, such obligations will be performed by the electronic BDO system. However, these are not the only environmental obligations of entrepreneurs, as they also include the need to pay fees:

  • for the emission of pollutants,
  • for using the environment.

BDO

The basic environmental obligation of a large number of entrepreneurs is to submit environmental reports under the BDO (Waste Database) system. It is a register in which the data of entities whose activities are related to the broadly understood waste management are placed.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Act of December 14, 2012 on waste, the obligation to register with BDO applies to entrepreneurs who:

  • they generate waste and keep records of waste;
  • they introduce packaged products, lubricating oils, batteries or accumulators, vehicles, electrical or electronic equipment into the territory of the country;
  • they import or produce packages and / or goods in packages, they buy them as part of intra-Community transactions (from companies in the EU);
  • they operate in the form of shops or wholesalers that provide their customers with plastic bags subject to a recycling fee. Remember, however, that the register does not include very light bags with a thickness of less than 15 micrometers, the so-called skidding, which serve as packaging for food sold in bulk and are issued for hygiene reasons.

An entrepreneur obliged to register with BDO must submit annual reports on the amount and type of waste produced by him that ends up in the natural environment. From 2021, this obligation will be implemented only through the official website of BDO, which can be found at https://bdo.mos.gov.pl/

The electronic system of BDO was created in such a way that everyone obliged to report and pay for the use of production waste can independently set the deadlines for their obligations towards the competent administrative authorities. In other words, after registering on the BDO website, the entrepreneur gains access to his user panel, thanks to which he can complete all formalities related to a given environmental obligation. The system also informs about the deadlines of obligatory reports, the amount of possible environmental fees and the method of their payment. The user also has the option to obtain on-line help in case of any problem. From 2021, all activities related to BDO must be performed only through the BDO e-platform - it has replaced the current traditional form of paper handling of this type of case.

Obligations regarding the emission of pollutants

Each company that heats its headquarters or uses combustion vehicles in its activities is required to register with the National Center for Emissions Management (KOBiZE). At the same time, it has to account for pollutants that are discharged into the natural environment as a result of business activities.

The primary duty of each company registered in KOBiZE is to submit reports on the emission of harmful volatile substances to the environment. Entrepreneurs must do it by the end of February each year, and the report must include emission data for the previous calendar year - the report for emissions from 2020 must therefore be submitted no later than February 28, 2021.

The entrepreneur is required to provide the following information:

  • company data;
  • places of use of the environment, where activities generating emissions are carried out;
  • equipment the operation of which causes emissions;
  • installations, sources of formation and places of emission;
  • technical measures to prevent or limit emissions;
  • the emission levels;
  • production volumes and characteristics of raw materials and fuels accompanying the emissions;
  • integrated permits or permits for the introduction of gases or dust into the air;
  • the deviations from the emission limit values;
  • environmental impact of installations and devices for incineration or co-incineration of waste, necessary for the fulfillment of reporting obligations under international law or European Union law;
  • investment projects, deadlines for their implementation and projected emission levels from these projects or emission reduction efficiencies or substance concentrations in waste gases planned to be achieved as a result of the implementation of these projects.

Obligations regarding the use of the environment

Another environmental obligation of the entrepreneur is the so-called ROP (Extended Producer Responsibility). It is true that it will only be fully operational from 2023, but some of the regulations governing this system have been in force since January 1, 2021. The ROP will be introduced to Poland on the recommendation of the European Union bodies.

The basic assumption of the ROP is to transfer financial responsibility to producers of packaging waste. In practice, companies producing packages and products sold in packages are to contribute 80% of the costs of their disposal. The remaining 20% ​​of such costs will be covered by local governments or the State Treasury. Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

Generally speaking, once the ROP is fully implemented, entrepreneurs whose production will generate industrial waste will be required to pay appropriate environmental fees. The rulers announce that these costs will be paid in deposit form - if the entrepreneur produces less harmful goods, part of the money paid as an advance on the ROP will be simply returned to him. However, if the production is greater than the deposit paid, the entrepreneur will have to take into account a mandatory surcharge.

In 2021, the ROP system will not start operating at full capacity, mainly due to legislative delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, entrepreneurs are encouraged to check the ROP guidelines on a current basis - the scope of products and waste goods, which will require the payment of a new deposit fee. After the implementation of all relevant legal regulations, entrepreneurs will have to go through a registration procedure similar to signing up with BDO or KOBiZE. It is estimated that this may not happen sooner than the end of 2021.

Environmental obligations of entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs whose activities involve direct or indirect impact on the natural environment are mainly required to register in appropriate systems, submit periodic reports (reports) on their activities and pay appropriate environmental fees. The basic systems in which such companies must be listed are BDO, KOBiZE, as well as ROP, which will probably start functioning as early as 2023.