The packaging law

What is the aim of the Packaging law?

Due to the increasing numbers of packaging waste, the Packaging Act is omnipresent in Germany and has been regarded with high importance since 2019. Accordingly, there is a great focus on the transparency of the recycling system within Germany in order to minimise the negative aspects of packaging waste.

The Packaging Act creates a legal framework for so-called packaging companies, which must register and participate in the system. This ensures that companies also contribute to the goal of the circular economy and bear responsibility for their packaging. It replaced the previously applicable Packaging Ordinance in 2019. The main objectives of the Packaging Act are to increase the recyclability and recycling rate of packaging and to reduce the amount of waste generated.

In the table below you can see the change in the recycling rate, which has changed significantly by 2022.  

What will change with the new Packaging Act 2022?

1. New obligation to provide evidence

Previously, only manufacturers and distributors of sales packaging and secondary packaging containing hazardous materials had to prove compliance with the take-back and recovery obligations. The reason for this is that such packaging containing harmful substances is recognised in the Packaging Act as system-compatible and cannot be conventionally recycled.

As of 01.01.2022, manufacturers of shipping packaging, sales packaging and secondary packaging as well as reusable packaging that does not normally become waste after use by the end consumer will now also be included. This means that registration of the above-mentioned packaging is required with the amendment to the Packaging Act.  

Packaging placed on the market from the previous year, as well as packaging taken back and recycled, must be documented annually by 15 May, in auditable form.

Documentation may be requested on demand. This must be listed according to material type and mass.

The final distributors of packaging are only responsible for self-regulation. More detailed information on what the mechanisms should include is not given.  

2. The plastic bag ban takes effect

From 1 January 2022, plastic carrier bags with wall thicknesses between 15 and 50 microns may no longer be offered or sold. Excluded are very light bags - so-called shirt bags, such as those used to buy fruit, vegetables or meat. Thicker bags over 50 microns are still allowed.  

3. Extension of the one-way deposit obligations

The deposit on non-refillable containers is extended to PET bottles and aluminium cans. The previous deposit exemption no longer applies to these two types of packaging, as does the often-practiced deposit evasion, especially for energy drinks and juices. However, there are exceptions or temporary transition periods:

Drinks made from milk products, which are designated as such according to § 2 paragraph 1 number 2, continue to be excluded from the newly introduced mandatory deposit. However, this exemption does not apply to products made from milk products that contain substances from Appendix 8 (i.e. caffeine, taurine, inositol and glucuronolactone).

The exception to the mandatory deposit does not apply to other drinkable milk products that are filled in non-returnable plastic bottles! Here, the deposit obligation applies from 01.01.2024.

Until 01.07.2022, beverages may continue to be distributed without a deposit if they are put on the market by the manufacturer before 01.01.2022.

Compliance with the deposit obligation is assessed through self-monitoring mechanisms, which the legislator requires of producers and distributors anyway.  

What do you have to pay attention to in general?

Before sending the first package, the following must be observed:

Registration obligation:

It is mandatory to register with the "Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister" in order to be entered in the public registration register LUCID.

System participation obligation:

This means that companies participate in the disposal process of the packaging. The licensing process takes place via a dual system. There, companies must participate by paying a licence fee, which is determined according to the quantity and material type of the packaging. This finances the nationwide collection, as well as sorting and the recycling process of packaging.

Data reporting obligation:

Finally, the licensed packaging types and quantities, as well as the Dual System, must be registered with the reporting register (lucid.verpackungsregister.org).  

You are still confused and don't know whether you as a company have to participate in the registration?

In general, all initial distributors are obliged to register in the LUCID packaging register. This includes all companies that put filled packaging into circulation commercially in Germany and that ultimately end up as household waste at the end consumer.  

To be more precise...

Are you an ?

--> Online shop operator:

Online shop operators are usually affected by the Packaging Act, as they send goods to the end consumer in the form of product and shipping packaging that is subject to licensing. In this case, you must also note that the filling material and packaging aids are also affected by the Packaging Act.

--> Marketplace traders:

Online marketplaces can draw traders' attention to the obligations of the Packaging Act through the extended producer responsibility.  

In the case of fulfilment, the ordering party is responsible for the shipping packaging. In the case of product packaging, you are only responsible if you fill it.  

--> Producers

Product packaging as well as secondary packaging are affected by the licensing obligation and must therefore be registered with the LUCID register.  The reason for this is that they are generated as waste by the end consumer.  

--> Importers

When importing packaging, it depends on the contract who bears the legal responsibility when crossing the border. Normally, it is the company that imports and actively brings the products into Germany that bears the responsibility for all packaging and components of the packaging.

--> Intermediaries

If you buy from another German manufacturer as an intermediary, then you are responsible for registration if you fill products further or add further packaging components.  

If you have any further questions or discrepancies, it is best to contact LUCID and discuss your case with an advisor there. https://lucid.verpackungsregister.org/

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