Packaging registration and labelling obligations – simply explained
The registration and labelling obligations in Germany stem from the new Packaging Act (VerpackG), in force since 1 January 2019. The new act replaces the old Packaging Ordinance of 21 August 1998 and intends to increase recycling rates. The new act places obligations on manufacturers and consumers that affect the packaging material as a whole. So you can be sure that you are legally compliant, we have summarised the most important facts for you here.
What does the new act (VerpackG) intend to achieve?
First off, the act should contribute to implementing goals set at the European level arising from Directive 94/62/EC. In particular, the effects of environmental damage from packaging should be avoided. The act applies to all packaging, though there are some exceptions. Wherever possible, manufacturers and distributors should avoid packaging altogether. If this is not possible, packaging should be made reusable and recyclable. Multiple-use packaging should be preferred.
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What are the obligations and why is registration and labelling mandatory?
As a manufacturer and distributor of goods in Germany, you are obliged to “participate in the system”, as it is put: empty packaging from the end consumer must be accepted free of charge and the return and recycling of the packaging documented, ensuring traceability. As a manufacturer, you have the obligation of labelling packaging materials and participating in a recycling scheme. To this end, you must register with a central office and enter your packaging quantities in a system.
Not affected by the “system participation obligation” are:
- multiple-use packaging,
- single-use packaging on which a deposit is paid,
- the packaging of hazardous goods and that which does not make its way to the end of consumers – such as
- transport packaging: This must be accepted free of charge by the manufacturer or distributor at the place of purchase. There is no need for registration.
A special rule applies to service packaging. This could be single-use coffee cups, plastic bags or sandwich wrappers. This kind of packaging is filled by the seller as part of service – on site. Here, the actual distributor can take on the obligation to participate from the upstream supplier and is exempt from the registration obligations.
No packaging that requires participation in the system but which is not involved in any system may be brought into commercial circulation.
To ensure the rules are not circumvented, registration and labelling must take place as per § 9 VerpackG. This obligation is intended to lead to greater transparency, help the enforcement authorities in implementing the law and ensure that European law is implemented in full.
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What do these obligations mean?
To allow your packaging to be identified, it needs first and foremost to be labelled. The manufacturer is obliged to indicate the type of material and mass of the packaging in question. This is regulated under Appendix 5 of the new VerpackG act. Different labelling from that given there is not permitted.
The next thing the manufacturer needs to do is to register with the Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR). This can be done by logging in online at https://www.verpackungsregister.org and sending the data there.
When registering, the following information should be entered:
- contact data of the manufacturer
- name of the authorised representative
- manufacturer’s ID and tax numbers
- brand name of the product with the packaging
- declaration on return obligations
- declaration that the information is true
Information on the packaging must also be given. This includes:
- registration number
- type of material and weight of packaging
- name of the disposal system
- period of system participation
To fulfil the obligation to participate in a system (§ 7 VerpackG), the manufacturer must conclude a system participation contract with a disposal company. The ZSVR checks the correctness of the data by comparing them with those of the disposal company. Changes to the data should be reported at once to the ZSVR. After departure from the market, the data continue to be published for a further 3 years.
What deadlines need to be noted?
As part of its letter of representation, the manufacturer is obliged to make a declaration every year by the 15th of May regarding any sale and transport packaging newly brought to market in the last year. The information to be provided in the letter of representation is listed in § 11 para. 2 VerpackG.
Companies that bring to market less than 80,000 kg of glass, 50,000 kg of paper and card and 30,000 kg of other materials listed in § 16 para. 2 are exempt from the obligation to send a letter of representation.
What are the threatened consequences if compliance is not upheld?
Manufacturers may only put packaging on the market that requires system participation if it is registered with the ZSVR. The same applies to distributors: they are not permitted to distribute non-compliant packaging. Only if registered can it be purchased.
If manufacturers or distributors do not uphold the rules, they must pay a fine. The fines are regulated under § 34 VerpackG. Violations are punished by fines below € 10,000 up to € 200,000.
Who is affected by the obligation to submit registrations to the packaging registry?
All manufacturers, including brand names, are subject to the registration obligation if they bring packaging into circulation for the first time. Every packaging type needs system participation if it will likely end up as waste at a private end consumer. The registration obligation is intended to ensure the comprehensive, proper recycling of materials.
How can a consumer find out which manufacturers are registered?
So consumers can see which manufacturers and brands are registered with the ZVSR, the online database LUCID has been set up. The database is intended to create more transparency for end consumers. As an interested party, you can register on the platform and view the registry. LUCID publishes a registry of both manufacturers and inspectors.
Any more questions? Deutsche Recycling is happy to help you with your obligations and advise you on any relevant subject. Benefit from our full service and save time and money.