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The new German Packaging Act - have you registered?

The new German Packaging Act - have you registered?
by Ellen Thornton at 13:14 in Emerging, Packaging

In Germany, the new Packaging Act (VerpackG) came into effect on 1 January this year with more onerous obligations placed on companies with significantly more packaging that needs to be recycled. Obligated producers must have been registered with the new Central Office by 1 January through the packaging register LUCID or will face fines of up to 200,000 Euros. The packaging system now becomes transparent and shows consumers along with businesses who is registered and complying with the packaging waste law.

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Packaging Law has been in force in Germany since 1993. Companies that import, pack or sell packaged goods in Germany are obligated to finance the take back and recycling of their share of packaging waste. Packaging that is disposed of by private consumers is funded by license fees paid to Dual Systems. The Dual systems in turn organise the collection and recycling of packaging waste from households and similar establishments. In the past many companies have not complied with the packaging regulations and this was clear when far more packaging was being collected than reported as being placed on the German market.

Under the VerpackG, a manufaturer can be:

  • The trading company that has packaged goods produced through a contract manufacturer and is names on the packaging itself;
  • A foreign company, which has exported goods with packaging to Germany and bears legal responsibility for the goods at the time that they cross the border;
  • The shipping merchant who fills the shipped packaged goods and distributes them to the end user;
  • The mail order trader who have packaged goods imported to Germany and bears legal responsibility for the goods at the time that they cross the border;
  • The online shop based abroad which provides packaged goods directly to private final consumers in Germany;
  • Online retailers based in Germany, which return repaired products in their own packaging to the customer in the case of returns;
  • For online transactions, where the online retailer gets the order of the customer from the producer of wholesaler based in Germany and delivers it to the end customer of the online retailers (so-called dropshipping or third-party business), the producer or retailer is responsible.

The regulations are designed to ensure that companies think carefully about how their packaging is designed. The idea is that companies using more packaging and and less environmentally friendly packaging will be penalised with higher compliance fees and those companies who are using less packaging and packaging that is easy to recycle are rewarded.

One of the most notable changes to the Pacakging Act is the introduction of the Central Office in order to boost recycling rates and prevent freeriders. Producers were given the opportunity to pre register in 2018 and it has been operating as an authority since the beginning of the year with the aim to promote transparancy and control in the use and disposal of packaging. To register, producers must report company details, brand names and forecast data for household waste and inform the Central Office which Dual System they are registered with. All registered producers will be published on the Central Office website. Following registration, producers will have to submit every data report to the Central Authority as well as to their dual system. The Central Office will then compare this information with the information provided by the Dual Systems on recycled packaging quantities. This will show publicly those companies that meet their producer responsibility and those that do not and ensures that the recycling targets can be met. Currently 130,000 companies are registered which is an increase of 70,000 since the new law has been introduced.

The Central Office has developed new standards and published a catalogue for the classification of packaging subject to mandatory system participation and a guide to measuring the recyclability of packaging which will help dual systems consider environmental issues when calculating license fees. There will be no fees paid to the Central Office with data reports and registration at no cost. Producer costs are generated through the material fees paid to the Dual Systems. It is important to note that registration and data reporting cannot be delegated to a third party, the obligated party must carry out these tasks itself.

Other changes to the German Packaging Act include the change of definition of sales packaging which now also includes shipment packaging. In addition, the deposit obligation will be extended to fruit and vegetable drinks and mixed beverages with a whey content of 50% or more.

If you have any questions about the German Packaging Act or need any help with registration and data reporting, please contact us to speak to one of our consultants. We can guide you through the process step by step. If you're interested in reading more articles and blogs like this one, sign up to receive our free monthly digest.​

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