Verpackungsgesetz verpackte Waren bei der Produktion

The Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act (Ver­packG) – what’s it all about?

The Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act, known as the Ver­packG, is a Ger­man fede­ral law. It came into force on 1 Janu­ary 2019 to imple­ment the Euro­pean Pack­a­ging Direc­ti­ve 94/62/EC in Ger­ma­ny. Each EU coun­try has its own pack­a­ging legis­la­ti­on, and the Ver­packG only appli­es to the Fede­ral Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny. In gene­ral terms, the Ver­packG regu­la­tes the initi­al dis­tri­bu­ti­on, return and reco­very of pack­a­ging.

The Ordi­nan­ce on the Avo­id­ance of Pack­a­ging Was­te (Ver­packV) was pas­sed in 1991. It was the first offi­ci­al regu­la­ti­on that made manu­fac­tu­r­ers respon­si­ble for the dis­po­sal of their pro­ducts and pack­a­ging. The aim of the Pack­a­ging Ordi­nan­ce was to avo­id the crea­ti­on of pack­a­ging and to regu­la­te its reco­very. On 1 Janu­ary 2019, it was repla­ced by the Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act (Ver­packG). To under­stand the cur­rent legis­la­ti­on, we recom­mend that you focus on the Pack­a­ging Act.

The Pack­a­ging Act is regu­lar­ly amen­ded to keep it up to date. The two most recent amend­ments came into force on 3 July 2021 and 1 July 2022. A detail­ed descrip­ti­on of the­se amend­ments can be found here.

Why is the­re a Pack­a­ging Act?

The aim of the law is to mini­mi­se the envi­ron­men­tal impact of pack­a­ging. Any pack­a­ging that can’t be avo­ided should be reusable or at least recy­clable. To this end, the law defi­nes who is respon­si­ble for the pack­a­ging: the par­ty that first places the packa­ged goods on the mar­ket.

What does the Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act say?

In Euro­pe, pack­a­ging is cover­ed by the Exten­ded Pro­du­cer Respon­si­bi­li­ty (EPR): Anyo­ne who manu­fac­tures and/or dis­tri­bu­tes a pro­duct should con­sider the dis­po­sal of the pro­duct at the end of its ser­vice life from the design stage. This also appli­es to the pack­a­ging of the pro­duct.

Anyo­ne that places packa­ged goods on the mar­ket should, the­r­e­fo­re, also be respon­si­ble for the envi­ron­men­tal­ly sound dis­po­sal of their pack­a­ging. By law, the initi­al dis­tri­bu­tor of packa­ged goods is respon­si­ble for the coll­ec­tion, sort­ing and recy­cling of the pack­a­ging in ques­ti­on. As it would be impos­si­ble and extre­me­ly inef­fi­ci­ent for each dis­tri­bu­tor to coll­ect and sort their own pack­a­ging, this task is assi­gned to the dual sys­tems.

This ensu­res that as much of the pack­a­ging sub­ject to man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on as pos­si­ble is pro­per­ly coll­ec­ted from con­su­mers, sor­ted and recy­cled. Com­pa­nies pay a licence fee to the sys­tem in which they par­ti­ci­pa­te, the amount of which depends on the mate­ri­al type and weight (mass) of the sales pack­a­ging.

Pack­a­ging licen­sing

Beco­me com­pli­ant and par­ti­ci­pa­te in the sys­tem in just 3 steps.

ZSVR: Who moni­tors com­pli­ance with the Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act?

The Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act led to the estab­lish­ment of the Osna­brück-based Cen­tral Agen­cy Pack­a­ging Regis­ter (ZSVR), which has a wide ran­ge of tasks:

  • The ZSVR is an impar­ti­al insti­tu­ti­on with the task of hel­ping to moni­tor com­pli­ance with the law by com­pa­nies.
  • It is respon­si­ble for estab­li­shing a trans­pa­rent and fair sys­tem for dis­tri­bu­ting the cos­ts of was­te dis­po­sal
  • and to crack down on defi­ci­ent par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on. It is the ZSVR’s task to check whe­ther all busi­nesses sub­ject to man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on actual­ly do par­ti­ci­pa­te in a dual sys­tem.

For this pur­po­se, the ZSVR ope­ra­tes the LUCID Pack­a­ging Regis­ter, an inter­net plat­form whe­re pro­du­cers must regis­ter. Using infor­ma­ti­on from the dual sys­tems, the cen­tral regis­ter can the check which com­pa­nies are sub­ject to man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on, and veri­fy that they have actual­ly paid fees to a dual sys­tem. If the ZSVR suspects non-com­pli­ance, it reports the com­pa­ny to the com­pe­tent enforce­ment aut­ho­ri­ties. Vio­la­ti­ons against the Ver­packG con­sti­tu­te a regu­la­to­ry offence, punis­ha­ble by hef­ty fines and sales bans. The Fede­ral Envi­ron­men­tal Agen­cy is respon­si­ble for super­vi­sing the cen­tral regis­ter.

What types of pack­a­ging are cover­ed by the Pack­a­ging Act?

Essen­ti­al­ly, the Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act distin­gu­is­hes bet­ween “pack­a­ging with man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on” and “pack­a­ging wit­hout man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on”.

What’s the dif­fe­rence?

  • With man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on:
    Initi­al dis­tri­bu­tors who are sub­ject to man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on must sign a licence agree­ment with a dual sys­tem and bear the cos­ts of coll­ec­tion, sort­ing and reco­very of the pack­a­ging, becau­se sales pack­a­ging and grou­ped pack­a­ging usual­ly end up with the con­su­mer, who dis­po­ses of them in the yel­low bag/bin, or in paper bins or glass con­tai­ners. Examp­les include wine bot­t­les and yoghurt tubs, but also bread bags and ship­ping pack­a­ging.
  • Wit­hout man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on:
    Pack­a­ging that doesn’t end up with the con­su­mer, howe­ver, is not sub­ject to man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on. The­re are spe­cial take-back sche­mes for reusable con­tai­ners, returnable bevera­ge pack­a­ging and trans­port pack­a­ging.


An amend­ment to the Pack­a­ging Act, which came into force on 1 July 2022, makes regis­tra­ti­on with the Cen­tral Agen­cy Pack­a­ging Regis­ter (ZSVR) man­da­to­ry, irre­spec­ti­ve of whe­ther par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in the dual sys­tem is man­da­to­ry. Every pro­du­cer must regis­ter with the ZSVR in the LUCID Pack­a­ging Regis­ter, regard­less of the type of pack­a­ging used.

Ver­packG: What exact­ly do initi­al dis­tri­bu­tors need to do?

To meet the obli­ga­ti­ons of the Pack­a­ging Act with regard to pack­a­ging that is sub­ject to man­da­to­ry par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on, manu­fac­tu­r­ers, importers, retail­ers, mail-order com­pa­nies and online retail­ers must com­ply with the fol­lo­wing points:

Pack­a­ging licen­sing

Com­ply­ing with the Ger­man Pack­a­ging Act has never been easier.

Pack­a­ging laws in other count­ries

A brief dig­res­si­on

The­re is no sin­gle EU-wide pack­a­ging law. If you want to export and sell packa­ged pro­ducts in other EU count­ries, you’ll find yours­elf in a con­fu­sing maze of natio­nal laws and regu­la­ti­ons. What’s more, the regu­la­ti­ons are usual­ly writ­ten in the natio­nal lan­guage of the coun­try con­cer­ned, with few texts available in Eng­lish. In order to com­ply with the law at all times and to avo­id any vio­la­ti­ons, you need to obtain infor­ma­ti­on from a num­ber of dif­fe­rent sources.

We are here to help you par­ti­ci­pa­te with your pack­a­ging, not only in Ger­ma­ny, but in other EU count­ries as well. We can take care of all the neces­sa­ry for­ma­li­ties of an EU licen­sing pro­cess to give you peace of mind when export­ing your goods within the EU.

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