Germany just created a system to make packaging producers share the cost of the disposal and recycling of their used packaging. Beginning January 1, 2019, any company that ships goods to or within Germany to consumers for commercial purposes and puts packaging into commercial distribution must register as part of the new Packaging Act (VerpackG). There is no minimum reporting threshold, so whether you have one packaged product in Germany or 10,000, you must register. Failure to register can result in a fine up to $57,000 and prohibition in sales.
When registering, companies must provide information on their packaging quantities as well as type and weight of materials used. At the end of the year, they will report their actual packaging usage data to the system operator and Central Office. In addition to reporting corrugate, carton, and envelop data, they must report label, wrap, and protective packaging information as well. Each company’s annual participation fee will be calculated based on the amount of packaging they used for the year. In the future, Germany will implement higher fees for non-recyclable products and reduce the fee for environmentally-friendly packaging.
The collected fees will be used to fund the Central Packing Registry which will control the system and ensure all of Germany’s packaging waste is recycled as efficiently as possible. Germany has the best recycling rate in the world with 70% of paper, board, and cartons and 60% of plastic recycled. The goal is to increase both those materials to 90% recycled by 2022.
Experts recommend companies, especially online retailers, begin switching to more environmentally-friendly packaging now in anticipation of additional fees in the future for non-recyclable packaging.
For more information on the program, read this FAQ on the German Packaging Act.
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