Sprache: DE

What does the Packaging Act (VerpackG) regulate in Germany?

The Packaging Act in Germany

1. Introduction to the Packaging Act in Germany

1.1 Definition and Objective of the VerpackG in Germany

The Packaging Act (VerpackG) of the Federal Republic of Germany, officially known as the Act on the placing on the market, return and high-quality recycling of packaging, represents a fundamental set of rules that governs the handling of product packaging – from production to disposal. It was established to minimize the amount of packaging waste and simultaneously enhance resource efficiency through reuse and recycling.

The VerpackG pursues several core objectives, including:
 

  • Reducing the environmental impacts of packaging waste, especially through waste avoidance and promotion of recycling.
     
  • Ensuring a high level of protection for human health and the environment throughout the lifecycle of packaging.
     
  • Promoting innovations and technological advancements in the field of packaging production and recycling.

1.2 Historical Context and Legal Basis

The VerpackG was first enacted in January 2019, replacing the previous Packaging Ordinance (VerpackV). It serves to implement various EU directives, especially the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, into national law, thereby establishing the legal framework for dealing with packaging in Germany.
 

The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive was enacted to minimize the negative environmental impacts of packaging waste and to harmonize the collection, reuse, recycling, and disposal of packaging waste across the EU. It sets minimum targets for the collection of packaging waste and its reuse and recycling and obliges member states to take appropriate measures to achieve these targets.
 

The VerpackG sets specific requirements and obligations for manufacturers, importers, retailers, and consumers of packaged products in Germany. It regulates, among other things, the registration of manufacturers, the labeling of packaging, the provision of information, the collection and disposal of packaging waste, and reporting and monitoring.

2. Who is affected by the Packaging Act in Germany?

2.1 Manufacturers

Manufacturers, in the context of the VerpackG, are companies that produce or import packaged goods for the German market. They are responsible for ensuring their packaging complies with legal requirements and must ensure that all packaging placed on the market is licensed and meets recycling and reuse targets.

2.2 Importers

Importers play a crucial role in the VerpackG by introducing goods from other countries into the German market. They must ensure that the packaging of imported goods complies with the requirements of the VerpackG, including licensing and adherence to reuse and recycling targets.

2.3 Online Retailers

Online retailers who sell packaged goods directly to end consumers in Germany are also affected by the VerpackG. They must ensure that the packaging of their products is licensed and complies with legal requirements, regardless of whether the goods were produced domestically or imported.

2.4 Distributors

Distributors, who resell packaged goods to retailers or end consumers, must also adhere to the requirements of the VerpackG. They play a vital role in ensuring that the packaging placed on the market complies with legal requirements and bear responsibility for complying with licensing and recycling requirements.

3. Obligations under the Packaging Act in Germany

3.1 Obligation to Participate in a Take-Back-System based in Germany

The obligation to participate in a system is a central element of the VerpackG, intended to ensure that manufacturers and distributors of packaging contribute to the financing of the collection and recycling of packaging waste. Companies that place packaged products for private end consumers, i.e., sales packaging, on the German market are obliged to participate in a dual system. This includes licensing the packaging placed on the market and paying licensing fees, which are used to finance the collection, sorting, and recycling of packaging waste.

3.2 Reporting and Registration Obligations

Companies that place any packaging on the German market must register with the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (ZSVR) and regularly report on the quantities of packaging placed on the market. The registration and reporting of packaging quantities are prerequisites for the lawful placing of packaging on the market and serve to ensure transparency and compliance in the market.

3.3 Labeling Obligation

The VerpackG does not establish a specific labeling obligation for packaging in Germany. The Green Dot is not a mandatory label but merely a fee-based brand logo of one of the many dual systems in Germany.

4. The Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (ZSVR) in Germany

4.1 Definition and Purpose of the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister

The Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (ZSVR), established through the Packaging Act (VerpackG) of the Federal Republic of Germany, acts as a neutral and superior entity in the field of packaging disposal and recycling. The ZSVR serves as an administrative element between manufacturers, dual systems, disposers, authorities, and consumers. However, it does not impose sanctions; this task is the responsibility of the Federal Environment Agency.
 

The ZSVR pursues several core objectives, including:

  • Ensuring transparency and traceability of packaging materials and waste.
  • Monitoring and controlling manufacturers' participation in dual systems.
  • Providing and managing the LUCID packaging register for manufacturer registration.
  • Collecting, processing, and verifying data reported by manufacturers and dual systems.

4.2 Structural Context and Legal Basis in Germany

The ZSVR was launched as part of the VerpackG, which came into effect in January 2019, and has since played a key role in implementing and monitoring legal requirements and obligations in the field of packaging disposal. It acts as a central coordination agency, bringing together and regulating various actors in the packaging disposal system.
 

The VerpackG itself was introduced to minimize the negative environmental impacts of packaging waste and optimize the collection, sorting, and recycling of packaging waste in Germany. It sets minimum targets for the collection and recycling of packaging waste and obliges the involved actors to take appropriate measures to achieve these targets.
 

The ZSVR, in particular, takes on the tasks of registration, data management and control, and monitoring of system participation, ensuring that manufacturers comply with their obligations and that packaging is properly licensed.

4.3 Specific Requirements and Obligations within the ZSVR

The ZSVR sets specific requirements and obligations for manufacturers, importers, and retailers to ensure that the provisions of the VerpackG are correctly implemented. These include registration in the LUCID packaging register, collecting and reconciling data regarding packaging placed on the market, and participation in a dual system. The quantity reports entered by manufacturers are regularly compared intra-yearly with the quantity reports of the dual systems to uncover discrepancies.

5. Sales Packaging Subject to System Participation Obligation and Transport Packaging Not Subject to System Participation Obligation

5.1 Definition and Purpose of the Distinction in Germany

The categorization of packaging in the Packaging Act (VerpackG) of the Federal Republic of Germany is an essential aspect to clearly define the obligations and responsibilities of the involved actors. In Germany, a particular distinction is made between sales packaging subject to system participation obligations and transport packaging not subject to system participation obligations. This distinction is fundamentally important in Germany to clearly assign responsibilities regarding licensing, collection, and recycling of packaging and to optimize the efficiency of recovery processes.
 

The VerpackG pursues the following objectives:

  • Ensuring effective and efficient collection and recycling of packaging waste.
  • Minimizing environmental impacts through packaging waste.
  • Promoting the reuse and recycling of packaging.

5.2 Sales Packaging Subject to System Participation Obligation

Sales packaging in Germany includes all packaging that goes to the private end consumer as a sales unit. So-called "equivalent accumulation points" such as schools, hospitals, law firms, etc., are also included, so packaging there is also subject to system participation obligation. According to the VerpackG, they must be involved in a dual system to ensure the return and recycling. This includes, for example, beverage bottles, canned goods, secondary or service packaging.

5.3  Non-System Participation Obligation Packaging

Transport packaging refers to packaging that does not go to the private end consumer. All packaging, even those that go to private end consumers, is intended for the transport of a product, so the term is misleading and often misunderstood. The correctly defined transport packaging must be taken back and recycled by the trade or manufacturer themselves. This must be provable if necessary, so that professional return and disposal are ensured here.

5.4 Relevance and Implementation for Manufacturers and Retailers

The correct classification and handling of packaging according to the VerpackG is essential for manufacturers, importers, and retailers to fulfill legal obligations and avoid sanctions. It is therefore imperative to correctly classify packaging and handle it according to legal requirements. Each EU country has its own definitions and designations for what is known as "transport packaging" in Germany: commercial packaging, B2B packaging, and more. So this must be considered individually per country.
 

The implementation of processes for the correct classification, reporting, and handling of packaging requires precise knowledge of legal requirements and effective internal organization. External service providers and consultants can also assist in ensuring compliance and implementing efficient processes.

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