Foundation & Authority

Minimum standard for determining the recyclability of packaging

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.

Regulation circle for recycling design

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:



To learn more about the background of the minimum standard, the legal provisions that the minimum standard is built on and the constitution of the Expert Committee, take a look at this fact sheet.

Revision cycle of the minimum standard

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.

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 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.

The minimum standard is reviewed and updated yearly based on technical progress and the reports of the systems.

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 has worked together with the Umweltbundesamt and developed an audit standard regarding the minimum content of the reports and comprehension of the legal terms for the systems (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.