In January 2019, the new German Packaging Act (VerpackG) came into force, replacing the German Packaging Regulation from 1998.
What does it mean for your company and your business and what needs to be done? Ecovis Beijing explains what you need to know and to do when selling into Germany.
What is the new Packaging Law?
The new Packaging Law differs from the old Packaging Regulation mainly in two ways:
- Mandatory registration via the online platform LUCID, provided by the new Central Register (Zentrale Stelle, ZSVR) for manufacturers or distributors:
As the Packaging Regulation from 1991 introduced the principle of product responsibility, these packaging materials already have to participate in a system. The manufacturers and distributors of packaging are obligated to comply with regulations on taking back and recycling packaging. Therefore, dual systems were established to enable those under obligation to properly recycle the packaging generated by a private final consumer.
What is NEW is: Manufacturers or distributor of packages subject to mandatory system participation must register from 1 January 2019 on the Packaging Register of the Foundation Central Agency Packaging Register (ZSVR). Manufacturers who are not registered with the ZSVR will as from 2019 no longer be able to have their packages participate in a dual system, a sales ban will then automatically apply.
2. Cross-border e-commerce is now included:
The new packaging act explicitly states that it also applies to shipping packaging and so-called secondary packaging, in which packaged products are additionally packed. That means, the VerpackG applies to all companies, both national producers and importer, online dealers, etc, whose packaging materials from their commercially sold products end up as waste for private end consumer in Germany.
The new Packaging Law is compulsory. It requires manufacturers and vendors to register and license any packaging materials that enter the German market for the first time. This includes outer packaging, retail packaging, disposable containers and dishes as well as transport packaging. Therefore, e-commerce vendors must now report material, type and weight of any packaging they add to the product.
I‘m an online vendor, what do I have to do?
Since the new Packaging Law includes transport packaging, online vendors must now register their packaging and pay license fees accordingly. We recommend to do so, in order to avoid fines or even bans.
First of all, you need to check whether the product you are selling counts as packaging itself. For example, If you sell plastic cups on Amazon Germany, your product title needs to contain the German terms “Einweg” (single-use) or “Mehrweg” (multiple-use).
Secondly, for transport packaging you need to complete the registration with the Central Register as mentioned above.
Do all online vendors need to register?
The Packaging Law regulates packaging of consumer products. If you are only doing B2B as an e-commerce vendor, the law does not affect you. Moreover, the ZSVR provides further information for e-commerce: if your company uses drop shipping, the onus to register is on the manufacturer, not on the vendor.
How do I register?
Vendors must provide basic information, such as company name, address, sales tax ID number and national code. In addition, they must list all their brands and all packaging that they will introduce into the market. The official registration platform is currently only available in German and can be found here.
If packaging is subject to the German dual system of waste collection or similar systems (systembeteiligungspflichtig) you need a license from a recycling provider participating in the corresponding system.
For further information on what type of packaging is subject to these systems, see the website of the ZSVR
What fees do I have to pay?
That depends on the material and weight of your packaging.
Let´s assume you register with Germany‘s largest recycling provider „The Green Dot“ (Der Grüne Punkt). 60kg of paper/cardboard and 2kg of plastic as well as a license to use the Green Dot logo, would cost you € 11,67 each month.
These amounts correspond to about 12 cardboard boxes plus bubble wrap per month. When planning the annual weight of your packaging, you need to be careful for that. If you surpass the registered weight, high fines might be issued against you. You can calculate your fees and register your packaging on the Green Dot website. Fees for not registering can reach up to € 20,000.
Besides the Green Dot, there are several other recycling providers that participate in the dual system: BellandVision GmbH，ELS Europäische LizenzierungsSysteme GmbH，INTERSEROH Dienstleistungs GmbH，Landbell AG für Rückhol-Systeme，NOVENTIZ Dual GmbH，Reclay Systems GmbH and RKD Recycling Kontor Dual GmbH & Co. KG.
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Business Development Manager
Zhiruo Zhao is a manager in our business development and marketing team. In our Heidelberg office, she is the primary contact person for Chinese and international customers who she supports in their endeavors to master the challenges of the German market. Ms. Zhao focuses on areas such as company formation, labor law, human resource management and German VAT compliance for e-commerce sellers. Ms. Zhao teaches Chinese law at SRH Hochschule Heidelberg as a guest lecturer.
Ms. Zhao has been living in Germany for 9 years. She studied in Chongqing (China), Osnabrueck and Heidelberg. Before joining Ecovis Beijing in 2016, she worked for a marketing research company in the field of marketing and data analysis. Previously, she worked on several projects for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in China and Germany. Ms. Zhao speaks Chinese, English, German and Spanish.
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