Implementation, section 21 VerpackG (Packaging Act)
Section 21 VerpackG regulates the incentivised structure of participation fees promoting ecological design. It is primarily aimed at systems that have to create financial incentives in three sets of circumstances. This happens in order to encourage in the production of packaging subject to system participation
- under section 21 (1) no. 1: the use of materials and material combinations that allow the highest percentage possible to be recycled, taking the practice of sorting and recovery into account, and
- under section 21 (1) no. 2: the use of raw materials and renewable raw materials.
In order to provide the systems with a single framework for measuring recyclability within the meaning of section 21 (1) no. 1, section 21 (3) VerpackG requires yearly publication of a minimum standard by the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR) in collaboration with the Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency. The background to this minimum standard is that packaging must become more eco-friendly in order to ensure that the relevant recycling targets defined in the Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act) can be met. The minimum standard is addressed to the systems and requires them to create financial incentives for recycling-friendly packaging design.
On September 1, 2020, the updated version of the minimum standard was published in consultation with the Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency) in its 2020 edition. The current version of the minimum standard for determining the recyclability of packaging currently in force is available in English, and can be found here:
The minimum standard, based on the Verpackungsgesetz and in agreement with the Umweltbundesamt, was published for the first time on 1 September 2019.
International industrial and commercial companies also have a close interest in making the packaging of their goods more recycling-friendly. For this reason, the minimum standard for determining the recyclability of packaging is also available in English on our English website. However, only the German-language version of the minimum standard is legally binding.
The Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act) VerpackG provides for first-time publication of a minimum standard in collaboration with the Umweltbundesamt for 1 September 2019. Since the systems have to report on implementation of the provisions under section 21 VerpackG to ZSVR as of the reporting date of 1 June 2019 for the first time, ZSVR and the Umweltbundesamt have already decided in 2018 to make guidelines available in order to outline the framework / direction the development will take. These guidelines therefore constitute a starting point to establish incentives, which is then executed in the next step by the systems.
The final version of the guidelines for measuring the recyclability of packaging can be found here:
Please note that being a forerunner to the minimum standard, the guidelines are available exclusively in German. The most recent document is the minimum standard on the recyclability of packaging, published on 1 September 2019, which is also available in English.
The minimum standard for measuring the recyclability of packaging subject to system participation should not take any position on the specific setting of incentives by the systems or the incentive models due to the associated encroachment into the freedom of the systems to set prices protected under antitrust law.
This minimum standard is then reviewed and updated yearly based on technical progress and the reports of the systems. The updates are planned as follows:
The aim of the regulation under section 21 VerpackG is to set a regulation circle in motion. If producers receive financial incentives for packaging design that is more sustainable, they will think more about the relevant investments. This then means technical progress which impacts the standards. A schematic representation of the regulation loop is shown here:
Reporting obligation of the systems / auditing reports
The systems must draw up a report every year as of the reporting date of 1 June regarding implementation of the systems and present it to the ZSVR.
In order to ensure the same type of level insofar as possible in implementation of the reporting obligation by the systems, ZSVR will be working together with the Umweltbundesamt to develop an audit standard regarding the minimum content of the reports and comprehension of the legal terms (e.g. renewable resources, high-quality recycling).
The reports submitted by the systems are checked for plausibility by ZSVR. This might include cross-checking against the volume flow record of the respective system to check the percentage of packaging allocated to high-quality recycling. If there are no objections, ZSVR issues its approval in collaboration with the Umweltbundesamt for the report to be published.
The analyses of the reports will also be used as a basis for further developing the minimum standard.