New Packaging Act launching in Germany

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On 1st January 2019, a new packaging law came into effect in Germany. What does this law mean? Who does it apply to? And what is its purpose? We’re going to be taking a look at what this means for online retailers selling in Germany.

What does the Packaging Act mean?

This new law replaces the current regulations dating back to 1991. This law aims to increase the rate of recycling, as well as reduce the production of packaging waste in order to protect the environment.

Called Verpackungsgesetz, this regulation targets manufacturers and distributors / importers who sell packaged products that German consumers end up throwing away: in households or similar organisations (restaurants, cinemas, canteens, hospitals, etc). This act applies to packaging made of the following materials: cardboard, glass, aluminum, plastic, natural materials, cardboard composite materials, and more.

Note: reusable packaging, consumers that are outside of Germany, and packaging that has already been introduced on the German market and has been registered are excluded from this law.

The recycling rate of plastic packaging is set to reach 63% by 2022 – currently it’s at 36%. Recycling rates of metals, paper and glass, will reach about 90%.

What are the rules?

1/ Registration in the National Packaging Register

According to Article 9 VerpackG, manufacturers or distributors/importers must register in the National Packaging Register: Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (https://www.verpackungsregister.org/). That is, any firm putting packaging on the German market for the first time for both consumers and on a commercial basis.

On the other hand, if an English company entrusts the distribution of its (packaged) products to a distributor in Germany (or to its German subsidiary), the registration of the packaging must in principle be carried out by the distributor/importer.

However, as the issue of liability can be complex, any English exporter must quickly settle the obligations of the new law with its German importer, including the issue of risk transfer. Finally, to avoid any issues, it is recommended to register at the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister.

Note: Packaging that isn’t been placed on the market for the first time is not subject to registration.

Registration must be done before placing any packaging on the German market. This registration is mandatory and free for companies. It guarantees complete transparency, as it’s possible to find the list of all manufacturers and distributors/importers on the “LUCID” website: https://lucid.verpackungsregister.org/

Without having registered, the manufacturer or distributor/importer will not be able to sell their products. In case of breach of the law, he will be liable to a fine of up to 200,000 euros.

2/ Participation in a German eco-organisation (dual system)

The second rule concerns participation in a German eco-organisation, for all that concerns the collection and recovery of sales packaging waste. Non-participation in this eco-organisation is an offense punishable by a fine of up to 100,000 euros.

In conclusion, if these rules are not respected, the products in question will be subject to a sales ban on German territory.

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Maud Leuenberger

Editorial Project Leader @lengow