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Ready for the new packaging law? What to do now

*Have you digested the DSGVO yet? The next clou is already imminent: the new packaging law. The Packaging Act will come into force on 1 January 2019, replacing the previous Packaging Ordinance. What does this have to do with you? Well, if you are an online retailer in the B2C sector, then you have a lot to deal with. And as with the basic data protection regulation, there is a threat of high fines and warnings from competitors or the competition headquarters in the event of infringements. Since the new Packaging Act also affects many of our Fulfillment customers, we have summarised the most important points for you.

VerpackG - why all this and what is different now?

As an online shop operator, you have probably noticed for yourself that the volume of orders has grown enormously in recent months and years. But more orders also mean more shipping-processing and therefore also packaging. On the one hand, the new Packaging Act is now intended to ensure that the recycling rates of various packaging materials increase - for plastic packaging, for example, from currently 36 to 63 percent, and that by 2022. Even if the materials used - from the shipping carton to the parcel tape to the polystyrene bead - are to be thoroughly regulated.

The innovations in the Packaging Act are intended to encourage distributors to focus more on ecologically advantageous and recyclable packaging. But there are also new obligations and definitions. So far, so good. Now the question arises for many online shop operators: Does the whole thing also concern me? As a rule, it does, because your goods will usually arrive at the end consumer in packaging that you have put on the market for the first time. This makes you the "first distributor", and as a shop operator you are obliged to register with the Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister in future.

But when do you qualify as a first-time distributor? This applies to those who, for the first time in Germany, commercially hand over B2C packaging filled with goods, including filling material, to a third party with the aim of distribution, consumption or use. Even if the quantities dispatched are only very small.

As already mentioned, you must register as the first distributor of packaging. The Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister was founded specifically for this purpose. Registration is free of charge, but compulsory - before packaging is placed on the market and by 1 January 2019 at the latest. Caution: This deadline must not be missed, otherwise you may no longer place "packaging subject to system participation" on the market. Fines of up to 200,000 euros may be imposed if this ban is violated.

Packaging is then subject to system participation if it is filled with goods and finally accumulates as waste at the private end consumer. This usually applies to sales packaging and secondary packaging. However, reusable packaging or one-way drinks packaging subject to a deposit are exempt from the system participation obligation. According to § 3 Para. 11 VerpackG, "comparable sources" of packaging waste such as hotels, restaurants, cinemas or hospitals are counted in addition to private households.

Upon registration, you will be included in the database called LUCID as a distributor of packaging and will be publicly accessible on the website of the Central Packaging Register Office. When registering, online merchants then receive their own registration number. In addition to the registration obligation, there is also the new data reporting obligation according to § 10 VerpackG. You must provide the Central Office with information on at least the following questions:

  • What type of packaging material are you likely to use?
  • What is the total weight of the individual types of packaging that you put into circulation each year?
  • Which return system is used?
  • For how long will the system be involved?

Now it is not always easy for shop operators to quantify the total weight of the packaging they use, precisely because the individual packaging materials have to be listed by weight. All the better if you already know the annual total weights. Your licensing fee will then be calculated on the basis of these quantities. Since most dual systems operate their own online shops for packaging licensing in which corresponding calculators are available, you can enter and calculate the individual weights for each type of packaging material.

Not always easy to assess: The annual mass of packaging

But what if you don't know the packaging weights? Then we recommend that you start from the number of pieces of the respective materials and multiply these numbers by the weight of the packaging. There are also calculation aids for this Calculation aids for various dual systems, such as Lizenzero that you can use.

Conclusion: What do you as a shop operator have to do?

Don't forget to register with the Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister by 1 January 2019. Then provide the estimated quantities of individual packaging materials that will be produced by the end consumer, as well as all other necessary information. Calculators that can be found on the websites of various dual systems can help you determine the packaging volumes. Also check where you may be able to save packaging material or consider more environmentally friendly alternatives. Both measures are not only good for the environment, but also have the potential to save packaging costs.

It would be beyond the scope to go into every single point of the new Packaging Act here. You will find the wording of the Packaging Act and many more detailed information on innovations, changes and obligations on the website of the Stiftung Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister.