Packaging Act 2022: This will be important this year

Globe with packaging
The European Union has set itself the goal of promoting better protection of the environment by its member states. To this purpose, Directive 94/62/EC was passed, which in Germany was converted into national law by the Packaging Act (VerpackG). It affects manufacturers of packaging as well as retailers who supply packaged goods, including filling material, to end or business customers online or in stationary stores. Compliance with the law is intended to reduce packaging waste and promote recycling, for which the market players must firstly participate in a dual system and secondly register with the authority "ZSVR" that operates the LUCID register. The recent changes in the German law have implications on many businesses such as producers and retail. In this article, you will learn what has specifically changed and why the amendment was made.
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What’s new in 2022?

The basic principle continues to apply. What is new is that the registration obligation, which is stipulated in Section 9 of the Packaging Act, has been extended. It now also affects distributors of service packaging and also transport packaging.

In addition, it will become mandatory to charge a depositon almost all non-refillable bottles containing beverages. Beverage cans must now also be integrated into the deposit system without exception.

Another innovation is that the marketing of plastic carrier bags has been prohibitedsince January 1, 2022. This excludes very thin plastic bags that are available in stores for customers to pack fruit and vegetables in. The thickness of these bags must not exceed 15 micrometers. Thicker carrier bags, whose wall thickness is at least 50 micrometers, are not covered by the ban.

The third change is that recycling ratesmust be increasedby the dual systems. From January 1, 2022, 90 percent of packaging made of cardboard, paper and cardboard, glass, ferrous metals and aluminum must be collected for recycling or reuse. This represents an increase of ten percent. The proportion will also rise from 75 to 80 percent for beverage cartons and from 55 to 70 percent for other composite packaging. The rate of recycling as a material has been increased by the amendment from 58.5 to 63 percent.

Companies that produce reusable packaging are now subject to the same recycling and take-back obligations that previously applied to packaging. This also affects distributors who pass on this packaging. There is also an obligation to provide information, through which distributors must inform their customers how they can return the material. In addition, producers and final sellers must be able to prove that they have fulfilled their obligations.

Who do the changes apply to?

If you are a retailer, i.e. you are at the bottom of the retail chain and you sell your goods to end consumers, the ban on plastic carrier bags applies to you. As a manufacturer and distributor of beverages of any kind, you must comply with the requirements for the deposit. However, there are two transitional periods for this, which you can find out about in the next subsections.

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Why are the amendments in place?

The introduction of the extended mandatory deposit is intended to reuse a greater amount of resources and at the same time create an incentive not to dispose of empty beverage containers in the environment. Likewise, it aims to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is often found in inland waters and ultimately in the oceans. This will protect rivers as well as oceans and especially animals living there.

The addition of the registration requirement improves the possibilities for monitoring Extended Producer Responsibility and ideally leads to companies switching to less packaging in total and to more sustainable materials. By extending the information requirements, end consumers are given the opportunity to make conscious disposal decisions as well as enabling competitors to put pressure on companies that are not yet compliant.

Deadlines and dates

The aforementioned regulations regarding plastic carrier bags and mandatory deposits came into force on January 1, 2022. There are only two transition periods:

Dairy products and mixed milk beverages do not have to be included in the deposit system until January 1, 2024.

Deadline expired

The transition period for products subject to depositsince January 2022, which were put on the market before January 1, 2022, runs until July 1, 2022.

Deadline expired

The extension of the registration obligation also applies from July 1, 2022.

If you manufacture or supply reusable packaging to end users, May 15 is an important deadline for you. By this date, you must provide annual evidence that you are complying with your take-back and recovery obligations.

What do distributors and other parties have to consider now?

As a distributor and producer, you must ensure that you register in good time by entering your company in the LUCID register. You should also address the registration to a dual system in a timely manner. Further updates and changes to the legal requirements are possible, so you should always stay up to date.

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