What you need to know about your obligations under the German Packaging Act
Anyone who places packaged products for private final consumption on the market in Germany is responsible for the environmentally friendly disposal of the packaging after use. This so-called extended product or producer responsibility exists throughout the European Union and not just for packaging. In Germany, the Packaging Act (VerpackG) regulates how this works in detail.
The aim of the German Packaging Act is to avoid or reduce the impact of packaging on the environment. Where possible, packaging waste should not be generated in the first place or, if this is not possible, it should be reused or recycled to the highest possible quality. The aim of the law is also to ensure fair competition between both the obligated manufacturers and the systems that implement product responsibility for the manufacturers. For this reason, there are comprehensive registration and reporting obligations for both these and the system operators. All companies that place packaging on the German market – regardless of the type – must register. We explain what you need to bear in mind.
If you, as an online retailer, sell packaged goods via your online store or otherwise put them into circulation, you are considered a distributor. As such, you are obliged to register the sales and secondary packaging with a dual system such as Der Grüne Punkt (sometimes also referred to as “licensing”). In return, this system ensures that the packaging is collected and recycled after use. You can fulfill this “obligation to participate in the system” by registering with Der Grüne Punkt, for example.
As a retailer or manufacturer in terms of the act, you must also register with the “Central Agency Packaging Register” – before you send out packaged goods for the first time. This is because you are not allowed to put packaging that has not been properly registered into circulation. The registration obligation applies to large corporations as well as retailers. You can apply for the necessary registration number at www.verpackungsregister.org. Without packaging licensing, there is a risk of warnings and fines.
You also enter the new registration number with the dual system to which you register your packaging. The “system participation” takes place under this registration number. You have not yet registered your packaging? Then use the registration with Der Grüne Punkt, for example. With VerpackGO, you can carry out packaging licensing quickly and online.
Almost all the information you have provided as part of your participation in the system must be sent directly to the Central Agency by you – at the very least:
- Name, address and contact details of the manufacturer
- Details of a natural person authorized to represent the company
- National identification number of the manufacturer, including the European or national tax number of the manufacturer
- Brand names under which the manufacturer places its packaging subject to system participation on the market
- Declaration that the manufacturer fulfills its take-back obligations by participating in one or more systems or through one or more sectoral solutions
- Declaration that the information provided is true
Note: You must make the entry in the LUCID Packaging Register yourself. This is because no third parties may be commissioned to register you in accordance with section 9 VerpackG or to submit data reports in accordance with section 10 VerpackG (see section 33 VerpackG)!
Now you're almost there. Whether you as a manufacturer are obliged to submit a declaration of completeness to the Central Agency (Section 11 (4) VerpackG) depends on the quantities of packaging you put into circulation. You are exempt from this obligation if you have placed less than 80 tons of glass packaging subject to mandatory participation, 50 tons of paper, cardboard or paperboard and less than 30 tons of another material on the market. Most companies or online retailers are therefore not required to submit a declaration of completeness. However, the Central Agency has the right to demand the submission of a declaration of completeness even if the threshold values are not reached.
However, there are also the following regulations that you must keep in mind:
- The deadline for submitting your declaration of completeness is May 15.
- Only registered experts, auditors, tax consultants or sworn accountants may check your declaration of completeness.
- Quantity deductions due to damaged or unsaleable packaged goods that have not reached the end consumer are only possible if both the return for each individual case is documented in a verifiable form and the supply for recycling in accordance with the recycling requirements.
What does the Packaging Act mean for online retailers?
Many online retailers don't realize that they have to register and register their packaging with the dual system. This can end badly. Our expert Georg Schmidt explains in easy-to-understand terms what you need to look out for (sorry, available only in German).
The Central Packaging Register Office (LUCID) was founded to implement the Packaging Act (VerpackG) and assumes important tasks for this purpose, including providing a platform for the declarations of completeness. But also other new requirements such as the registration obligation according to § 9 and the data reporting obligation according to § 10 VerpackG for manufacturers and distributors (first distributors) are regulated by the Central Packaging Register (LUCID). The Central Office itself has published a detailed list of the new obligations for product responsibility and a registration schedule in a comprehensive How-To-Guide. If you are completely new to the field of packaging and have not yet had to deal with the subject, you will find a clearly arranged FAQ catalogue on our website for the correct implementation of the VerpackG.
The Central Packaging Register (ZSVR) was introduced by the German Packaging Act (VerpackG). Its purpose is to check whether the requirements of the Packaging Act are being complied with. Manufacturers, traders and online retailers who place packaging for private end use on the German market must
- register in the LUCID register of the ZSVR,
- estimate the quantities of packaging they will place on the German market in a given year and submit these planned quantities to a dual system in Germany such as the Green Dot,
- also report their data regarding the quantities reported to one or more dual systems to the ZSVR in the same way.
- The LUCID registration number is communicated by manufacturers, distributors and online retailers to their dual system so that the data reconciliation works.
The most important aim of the German Packaging Act (VerpackG) is to avoid or reduce the impact of packaging waste on the environment. This is to be achieved by avoiding, reusing and recycling packaging waste.
The Packaging Act also requires manufacturers and (online) retailers to promote the use of environmentally friendly and recyclable packaging.
The Central Agency Packaging Register (ZSVR) has the task of ensuring a transparent and fair distribution of the costs of the disposal and recycling system in accordance with the VerpackG. In this context, the ZSVR takes on the task of registering those responsible for products and thus making them public and ensuring transparency and legal clarity through other tasks (e.g. data reporting). The ZSVR monitors other ecological targets, such as the fulfillment of recycling quotas and the financial promotion of more sustainable packaging. The German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is responsible for technical and legal supervision.
Further information on the structures of the authority can be found directly on the website of the Central Agency Packaging Register Foundation.
All the threads come together at the ZSVR, as it checks compliance with obligations on the part of both online retailers and dual systems. It is a foundation under civil law and is responsible for the following tasks, among others:
- Registration of manufacturers before placing on the market
- Receiving data reports from manufacturers and systems
- Filing declarations of completeness
- Maintaining a register of inspectors (experts, auditors, tax consultants, sworn auditors)
- The Central Agency therefore collects and manages the registration data of the manufacturers and the data on quantities and types of packaging as well as the volume flow certificates that it receives from the systems.
Further information on the ZSVR can be found on the website www.verpackungsregister.org.
LUCID is the packaging register in which manufacturers and retailers, such as online retailers, must register the packaging they place on the German market. Retailers and manufacturers must be registered with the ZSVR in the LUCID packaging register. Each company or manufacturer must register once with the Central Agency in the LUCID Packaging Register.
Sustainability will pay off even more in future, and not just for the environment: the German Packaging Act encourages the dual systems to promote packaging that is particularly easy to recycle or is made from recyclates or renewable raw materials. This means that in the medium term, the calculation of participation fees should be based on ecological criteria.
Manufacturers and retailers also have a social responsibility and should also help to conserve finite resources by using sustainable packaging and recycling. The systems help with this! Many secondary and sales packaging can already be designed to meet these criteria. Der Grüne Punkt will be happy to support you with the recycling-friendly design, product development and optimization of your packaging or advise you on the use of high-quality recyclates.