Anyone who commercially sells goods from Germany or abroad in packaging subject to system participation via an electronic marketplace (such as Amazon, ebay, etc.) and sends them to private end consumers in Germany is generally obligated by the German Packaging Act.
The German Packaging Act does not recognize de minimis limits: obligated online traders must already take action from the first packaging placed on the market.
The Packaging Act has far-reaching implications for online traders from Germany and abroad who use Amazon, ebay and other internet platforms as electronic marketplaces for sales in Germany. It is mandatory if the online trader packages his goods itself or imports packaged goods and sells them to private end consumers via electronic marketplaces in Germany. In this context, both the actual packaging of the products themselves and the additional shipping packaging used, such as cardboard boxes or plastic bags including filling material, are subject to the provisions of the VerpackG. In accordance with the requirements of the Packaging Act, the Central Packaging Registry (Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister - ZSVR) was established as a foundation under private law, among other things, to implement and comply with the requirements of packaging law. The decisive task of the ZSVR is to check whether the requirements of the Packaging Act are complied with by obligated companies. In the event of violations and misconduct on the part of the distributors, it cooperates with the relevant enforcement authorities to initiate sanctions. (fines of up to 200,000 euros).
As an obligated online trader, I need to know the following so that I can fully comply with my legal obligations:
- Obligation to register with the Central Packaging Register (ZSVR)
Anyone who is obligated by the Packaging Act as an online trader must register their company data with the Central Packaging Registry at www.verpackungsregister.org in the LUCID database, which is open to the public.
- Obligation to participate in a dual system for packaging recovery
According to this, online traders must participate in a dual system, such as the Der Grüne Punkt/Green Dot, for the packaging quantities they expect to put into circulation in a year in Germany. For this purpose, the online trader must report the registration number assigned to him by the Central Packaging Registry to his chosen dual system. This enables the exchange and comparison of information between the data of the obligated trader, the ZSVR and the respective dual system.
- Obligation to report data to the ZSVR
If the online trader has concluded his participation contract with a dual system, e.g. such as Der Grüne Punkt, he is obliged to inform the ZSVR of both the name of the dual system and the quantity reported there.
- Submission of a declaration of completeness
Large online traders who put several tonnes of packaging material (at least 80 tonnes of glass, and/or 50 tonnes of paper, cardboard, carton and/or 30 tonnes of lightweight packaging) into circulation per calendar year must submit an additional declaration of completeness in the following year, confirmed by an auditor registered with the ZSVR, in addition to the quantity report.
- Year-end quantity report
These reporting steps should be taken at the beginning of the year or at the time of sales starting in Germany. As a rule, the online trader concerned does not have to become active again until the beginning of the following year, to submit a quantity report on the packaging quantities actually put into circulation to his dual system and file the same in the LUCID database of the Central Packaging Registry. With the dual system Der Grüne Punkt, this change can be made in just a few steps in the online portal.
If I sell commercially to private end consumers via Amazon, ebay & Co., fill packaging (such as shipping or service packaging) for the first time and place it on the market in Germany, I am considered a "manufacturer" under the Packaging Act and am therefore obliged to participate in a dual system, such as Der Grüne Punkt. The same applies if I import goods from abroad for resale in Germany. As an importer I must
- register with the Central Packaging Registry (ZSVR)
- estimate how much packaging I will put into circulation in a year and participate these planned quantities in a dual system such as Der Grüne Punkt: Your license calculator
- report my data concerning the quantities reported to one or more dual systems to the ZSVR again in the same way ► inform my dual system of my ZVSR registration number so that the exchange of information and data reconciliation between these bodies functions in the sense of complete fulfilment of my obligation.
Please note: Private end consumers are not only private households. Comparable sources of waste also include, for example, hotels, restaurants and other catering establishments, hospitals, educational institutions and freelancers as well as, to some extent, craft enterprises, agricultural enterprises and numerous other establishments.
Dropshipping is a type of online trade in which online retailers offer products in their shops without even having them in stock themselves. If such a product is ordered in the shop, the shop operator does not ship the product himself, but orders the product directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler, who then sends it directly to the customer on his behalf.
With fulfillment (e.g. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)), on the other hand, the online retailer, for example in the case of FBA, first sends its goods to an Amazon warehouse. Amazon takes over the storage and packaging of the goods. If a customer orders, Amazon, for example, ships the goods in its own Amazon packaging directly to the customer on behalf of the online retailer.
In both cases, an external third party (manufacturer/ wholesaler/ e.g. Amazon) is the initial distributor of the shipping packaging, which then is subject to the registration, system participation and data reporting obligations. As a rule, the online retailer does not have to take any additional action for these shipping packages.
Attention: Change as of 1 July 2022. See separate information below.
Note on packaging around the goods: If the online trader is also the filler of the packaging of the goods he sells, he must fulfil the obligations under the Packaging Act for these. If he is not and only sends the goods on, this obligation lies with the manufacturer/pre-distributor.
Important information on importing goods: If the online retailer is legally responsible for the imported goods when crossing the border, which he later sells to the private end consumer via a fulfillment/dropshipping company, e.g. by means of FBA, he must participate in a dual system for all packaging components of the primary packaging. In addition, the respective trademarks of the items, if any, must be registered in LUCID.
- Electronic marketplaces such as Amazon and fulfillment service providers may no longer permit the offering of goods and/or provide services if proper registration and system participation has not been proven by their customers, i.e. electronic marketplaces such as Amazon will then be subject to verification obligations. Online traders must therefore prepare themselves for such demands and should be prepared.
- Fulfillment service providers (e.g. use of FBA) are no longer manufacturers within the meaning of the German Packaging Act for shipping packaging subject to system participation that they fill with goods. Rather, the distributor for whom the fulfillment service provider acts is considered the manufacturer with regard to the shipping packaging, who must carry out the registration and system participation. The information required for this, such as quantities and types of material, must then be requested from the fulfillment service provider.
Detailed information on this can be found in the ZSVR subject-specific paper "5. Issues and specific situations for mail order companies and online retailers" under Subject-specific papers (verpackungsregister.org)
Online retailers who sell to Germany and/or France and have been identified by Amazon, for example, as a "manufacturer" within the meaning of the German Packaging Act (VerpackG), must prove to the electronic marketplace operator in future that they comply with the respective national EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) requirements. This is done by reporting the corresponding EPR registration number(s), the link to which will be provided by Amazon in the fourth quarter of 2021. The background to this is that from 2022 Amazon must ensure that the relevant group of sellers acts in an EPR-compliant manner.
This applies to Amazon offers in Germany for packaging, electrical and electronic equipment and batteries. For electrical appliances with batteries, Amazon currently only requires the registration number for electrical and electronic appliances.
The following registration numbers are currently to be given according to
- German Packaging Act (registration with the Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister in the LUCID database)
- Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (registration of manufacturers of electrical equipment with the Stiftung Elektro-Altgeräteregister/Foundation for the Register of Waste Electrical Equipment (EAR))
Germany: Anyone who fails to provide the aforementioned information will have their offers suspended on Amazon's electronic marketplace on the following dates: for packaging, all offers from 1 July 2022; for electrical and electronic equipment, all offers from 1 January 2023.
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