German Packaging Act (VerpackG) 2024 - Fulfillment-Box Skip to main content
Verpackungsgesetz (VerpackG)

In July 2022, changes to the German Packaging Law (Verpackungsgesetz or VerpackG) came into effect. These changes impact all companies that produce, import, or use packaging materials. The law obligates companies to participate in the dual system for packaging disposal and to register in the LUCID registry. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in serious consequences, including fines of up to 200,000 euros.

In this article, we will go through all the changes to the Packaging Act, including those up to the year 2023, to provide you with up-to-date information. You will be able to take all necessary measures to comply with the current regulations.

1. What Is the Packaging Law (Verpackungsgesetz)?

The German Packaging Law was introduced in 2019. Its main objective is the effective regulation of the life cycle of packaging materials and the minimization of their impact on the environment. The law is a continuation of the Packaging Ordinance that has been in effect since 1991.

The introduction of the new Packaging Law took place step by step:

Year of ChangeChanges to the law
2017A new version of the Packaging Act has been adopted, introducing stricter requirements for manufacturers and importers of packaging materials.
2018The fundamental provisions of the new law have been established, and a registration system for companies has been developed.
2019The new Packaging Act has come into effect. It mandates the registration of all companies that manufacture or use packaging in the German market. Companies are also required to take measures to increase the recycling and disposal rates of used packaging materials.
2021Changes have been made to the Packaging Act, affecting the registration and reporting systems for companies. Simultaneously, a ban on single-use plastic products came into effect. This also applies to online trading platforms, which are now subject to the regulations of the law.
2022Ban on polyethylene bags. The Packaging Act stipulates a registration requirement for manufacturers in the LUCID register.
2023According to the amendment (§ 33 of the Packaging Act), the mandatory use of reusable packaging for catering establishments, delivery services, and restaurants is now in effect.

The new Packaging Law was introduced to significantly tighten requirements for handling packaging. It obligates all "manufacturers" of packaging to actively participate in financing its disposal. The new regulations help control the production and use of plastic materials and encourage the transition to environmentally friendly alternatives.

Furthermore, the Packaging Law contributes to increasing the efficiency of waste recycling. It sets requirements for the separate collection and recycling of various types of packaging materials, such as plastic, glass, and paper. This helps reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills and promotes the reuse and recycling of materials. In 2021, 41% of Germany's 5.7 million tons of plastic waste were recycled .

The Packaging Law (VerpackG) also regulates the responsibility of manufacturers and sellers for packaging materials. They must register in a special registry and fulfill their obligations for waste processing. This helps create a responsible packaging industry where manufacturers make more conscious choices regarding materials and strive for ecological sustainability.

2. Who Falls Under the Regulations of the Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz)?

The Packaging Act applies to all "producers" of packaging. In the context of the law, this refers to the entity responsible for the creation and provision of packaging materials used for packaging goods. This means that anyone placing commercial packaging on the German market, whether it's a manufacturer, distributor, or retailer, is considered a producer and has specific obligations.

The law applies to both German companies and foreign companies exporting goods to Germany. All of them are obligated to fulfill the registration requirements of the Packaging Act in the corresponding packaging register.

3. What Type of Packaging Is Referred to?

The impact of the law extends to all packaging used for goods in the German market. This includes various types of packaging, especially:

  • Commercial packaging filled with goods for the consumer.
  • The outer packaging that becomes waste after use by the end consumer.
  • Transport packaging, including shipping cartons and other packaging for the transportation of goods.
  • Service packaging (packaging for take-away meals, packaging for baked goods in bakeries, etc.).
  • Single-use packaging for beverages subject to deposit, etc.

4. What Consequences Do Companies Face If They Do Not Comply with the Packaging Act?

Non-compliance with the requirements of the Packaging Act can have serious consequences for your company. Violations of the law can result in fines, ranging up to €200,000 and a sales ban on products, depending on the severity of the offense. Such a significant amount can inflict substantial damage to your company's financial standing.

Violations can also lead to negative impacts on the reputation of offenders. Modern consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues and assess companies based on their ecological responsibility. Non-compliance with the Packaging Act can result in public scandals and the loss of customer trust.

5. Changes to the Packaging Act in 2022: How Have They Influenced Ecommerce?

From July 1, 2022, changes to the Packaging Act were introduced, which mandate a registration requirement in the LUCID register for the packaging used by sellers and their participation in the dual system. Before sellers circulate packaging, they must ensure that it can be reintegrated into the material cycle.

The changes also affected online trading platforms. Since 2022, they are obligated to verify the registration of retailers in the LUCID register and ensure that they meet the requirements for participation in the system. Failure to confirm compliance results in retailers being unable to offer their products on these platforms. This also applies to providers of third-party logistics (3PL) services. They are only allowed to offer their services to customers who have fulfilled their obligations according to the Packaging Act.

The seller must fulfill their obligations according to the specified regulations:

5.1 Registration in the Packaging Register (LUCID)

Without a registration number, your company cannot participate in the dual system, and thus, you are not allowed to use packaging for commercial purposes. To obtain a number, you must register in the LUCID register through the Central Packaging Register (ZSVR) .

The ZSVR monitors manufacturers and retailers under the Packaging Act, verifies their registration, and checks the proper payment of fees for the use of packaging. Its task is to ensure complete transparency and efficiency in the dual system.

5.2 License for Participation in the Dual System

After obtaining the registration number, you can license your packaging with your dual system provider and introduce it into circulation. The dual system is a key element of the Packaging Act. It is a comprehensive system for the collection and recycling of packaging waste. According to this principle, manufacturers and retailers are obligated to take responsibility for their products once they become waste.

The system is based on the principle of "The producer pays." This means that the seller has to bear the costs for the collection and recycling of used packaging materials. This is intended to encourage them to use environmentally friendly materials and packaging methods.

5.3 Reporting to the ZSVR (Central Packaging Register)

Compliance with the law requires companies to report continuously on the volume of their licensed packaging. Before the changes in 2019, companies submitted their declarations twice a year to the dual system provider. At the beginning of the year, an estimate was made based on which a contract was concluded, and at the end of the year, companies reported on the actual volume of the used packaging. With the introduction of the new Packaging Act, packaging manufacturers are now also obligated to send these declarations to the ZSVR.

Fulfillment-Box will assist you in fulfilling your obligations under German legislation without additional difficulties. We provide support for registration in the LUCID register and the dual system. Within just two days, a company representative will provide you with all the necessary data for access to your personal account and assist in submitting the initial report. With Fulfillment-Box, you can meet all the requirements of the Packaging Act and gain the assurance that all necessary steps have been carried out efficiently and on time.

6. Mandatory Reusable Packaging: Who Is Affected by the New Changes in 2023?

As of January 1, 2023, a change to the Packaging Act from 2021 came into effect, introducing mandatory the use of reusable packaging. This obligation applies to all businesses offering takeaway food and beverages. Exceptions include small businesses with a sales area of less than 80 square meters and a staff of fewer than five individuals. However, they are not allowed to refuse customers the filling of their own reusable containers.

It concerns packaging that is entirely or partially made from single-use plastic. The reusable alternative should not be more expensive than the product in single-use packaging. However, the seller has the right to charge a deposit fee, ensuring the return of the packaging for reuse. Companies are also obligated to inform their customers about the option of using reusable packaging. This can be done through a sign in the sales area or a printed flyer if the company offers delivery services.

7. What Challenges May Packaging Manufacturers Face From the Year 2024 Onward?

On June 27, 2023, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMUV) presented a draft law with new changes to the Packaging Act. As part of the draft law, the following amendments were proposed:

  • A complete ban on single-use packaging for fast food. All fast-food restaurants will be required to provide reusable tableware. Exceptions still apply to establishments with a total area of less than 80 square meters and a staff of no more than 5 employees.
  • Expansion of the obligation for reusable packaging to other materials. Currently, the obligation applies only to single-use plastic packaging. From 2025 onwards, there are plans to extend this requirement to packaging made from other materials.
  • Expansion of the obligation for reusable packaging to other materials. Starting January 1, 2025, supermarkets and retailers must offer at least one reusable packaging option for various types of beverages.
  • Simplified return of deposit bottles. Currently, a beverage retailer only accepts its own reusable containers. Under the new draft law, they will be obligated to take back all reusable and external packaging, regardless of the brand.
  • Prohibition of deceptive packaging. Starting July 1, 2024, manufacturers are required to provide information about a reduction in the quantity of their product in the packaging.

It is worth noting that this draft law has sparked dissatisfaction from the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The main points of criticism revolved around the obligation to provide reusable alternatives for beverages, affecting supermarkets and retailers. The party argued their objections based on the lack of sufficient evidence that reusable solutions are indeed environmentally advantageous. Due to these concerns, the project has been temporarily blocked. The introduction of new changes has been postponed until a solution is found that satisfies all parties.

8. Conclusion: The Packaging Act - Striving for a Sustainable Future

The recent changes in the Packaging Act not only heighten the requirements for businesses but also emphasize the ecological responsibility of companies. Adhering to the new standards is a crucial aspect for your company. This not only helps you avoid negative consequences but also demonstrates your responsibility towards the environment and society as a whole.

In light of the upcoming changes planned for 2024 and 2025, the German Packaging Act underscores the urgency of environmental conservation measures. In the event of the enforcement of these changes, packaging manufacturers must actively seek sustainable business solutions and adapt their practices to the new requirements and standards. The new Packaging Act could set the stage for the development of an environmentally friendly industry. This is a crucial step towards a more sustainable future for both current and future generations.

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Julia Gordon

AuthorJulia Gordon

Head of the Fulfillment-Box Prep Centers network

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