Packaging Act entered into force in Germany: Less packaging – more transparency and recycling



As of 1 January 2019, far reaching new rules apply to the disposal of packaging in Germany. Considerably more packaging must be recycled. New standards define to what extent different types of packaging are actually suitable for recycling. In addition, provisions ensure that all businesses using packaging also pay for their collection and recycling. The new Packaging Act supplies the basis for all this. A key element of the legislation is the new Central Packaging Registry LUCID. Using LUCID, every citizen can check the extent to which manufacturers fulfil their product responsibility. 

In Germany, product responsibility for packaging was introduced in 1993. It means that anyone putting goods into packaging or importing packaged goods to Germany also has to pay for disposal of the packaging. In the area of packaging that ends up as household waste, this payment is collected as licence fees paid to what is known as dual system providers, companies that organise recycling. However, numerous businesses did not fulfil their duties. Because of this, no financial incentive existed to forego superfluous packaging. 

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze stated: "We want industry to really contemplate what packaging is necessary and what environmentally friendly materials could be used. This works especially well when environmentally harmful behaviour is expensive and environmentally friendly behaviour is being rewarded. This was the starting point for the new Packaging Act. Less packaging, but more recyclable – that is our goal." 

A great innovation introduced by the Packaging Act is the Central Packaging Registry foundation, which began operating as an official body at the beginning of the year. The registry’s aim is to improve transparency and control of both the use and the disposal of packaging. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze explained: "Environmentally conscious people who sort their waste must be assured that the packaging is actually being recycled. That is the only viable way to build people’s trust in our recycling system. The Central Registry is a key element in this." 

The Central Packaging Registry functions roughly as follows: Any business using packaging and packaging goods has to enrol in the registry; the business name and all of its brands will then be published. In addition, the business must provide information about the quantity of packaging destined to become household waste that it will use and sell or put into commercial circulation. The Central Registry will compare these data with the data provided by the dual system providers on the quantity of recycled packaging. It will then become public knowledge which businesses are fulfilling their financial product responsibility and thus ensuring that targeted recycling quotas can be met. 

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