A final consumer is someone who does not go on to commercially place the goods on the German market in the form delivered to them. Private final consumers include not only private households, but also comparable sources of waste generation within the meaning of section 3 (11) VerpackG. 'Comparable sources of waste generation' are not listed exhaustively in section 3 (11) VerpackG, but include, for example, restaurants, barracks, administrative offices, craft enterprises and agricultural holdings with a packaging volume that does not exceed 1,100 litres and can be collected at the rate that is normally associated with private households.
Retail packaging explicitly includes service packaging and shipment packaging. Service packaging is always subject to system participation; shipment packaging is listed in the catalogue and is also subject to system participation in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Packaging that is not subject to system participation, by way of contrast, includes export packaging that provably does not accumulate as waste in Germany, large commercial packaging (packaging that accumulates in industrial contexts – i.e., with non-comparable sources of waste generation), transport packaging, reusable packaging, single-use beverage packaging subject to deposits and retail packaging for hazardous contents.
Determining the system participation requirement of a type of packaging depends on whether it typically accumulates as waste with a private final consumer after use. In the catalogue, the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR) makes an abstract generalised assessment by product group and its corresponding packaging types in relation to the market overall. Based on the typical source of waste generation in this assessment, the ZSVR uses administrative regulations to define the system participation requirement.
This generalised assessment is the result of an analysis of an overall view of the market for the product group under consideration, along with its packaging, undertaken by GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung mbH. GVM had previously conducted their own investigation into where packaging for products typically accumulates in the overall German packaging market and listed these places by product group. They also considered the criterion of volume for sources of waste generation – something an individual producer is not able to do. GVM further assessed the concrete supply relationships for the different sectors / products groups, again taking account of the sources of waste generation and their volumes.
Because the initial distributor generally cannot and/or will not undertake this sort of an overall market assessment, the Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act) entrusts the ZSVR with the statutory duty of classifying the system participation requirement of types of packaging (section 26 (1) no. 23 VerpackG). The ZSVR determines the system participation requirement of packaging upon application.
System participation requirement catalogue
In order to prepare for the large number of expected classification decisions and to save producers within the meaning of section 3 (14) and (9) VerpackG (initial distributors) the time and effort of having to make case-by-case applications, the ZSVR has decided to publish norm-interpreting administrative regulations. These contain indications of how the ZSVR would likely decide an application concerning the classification of a type of packaging as being subject to system participation or not. For ease of use, the administrative regulations are published in the form of a system participation requirement catalogue.
In particular, the catalogue is intended to provide producers / initial distributors with objective assistance in classifying packaging in cases of doubt, setting out the system participation requirement in a transparent and understandable way. Clearly classifying packaging prevents initial distributors with producer responsibility and other players in the industry from not registering packaging that should participate with a system, using expert opinions to justify a different classification and defining non-deductible packaging volumes, which would lead to under-participation.
The catalogue is arranged in multiple sections so that users are presented with the wide range of information in a practical way:
|Guideline||Background, approach, catalogue structure, area of application, dealing with different types of packaging and information about its practical application.|
|Table of contents||Overview of the product groups contained in the catalogue.|
|Product group sheet files||
Distinctions are made between different products within the product groups and the classifications are detailed. The individual product sheets are structured as follows: |
1) Definition sheet with explanation
2) Brief system participation requirement summary
3) Detailed system participation requirement overview
In addition to describing the background of the catalogue, as well as how to use it and its structure, the guideline for using the system participation requirement catalogue also explains how to deal with different types of packaging, and contains information about its practical application. In particular, the guideline covers the application of differentiation criteria, often volumes/sizes (food sector), the definition of a sales unit, and details about transport packaging. There is also a description of how to deal with cases that are not set out in the catalogue. The explanations are accompanied by clear examples; the guideline also contains a section on frequently asked questions and a glossary. The guideline is part of the administrative regulation. The product group sheet files should not be used in isolation, but always together with the guideline.
Table of contents
A table of contents makes orientation easier.
To make things simpler for users, the range of goods covered is arranged into product categories (= catalogue sheets) that are in turn assigned to product groups. Product group assignments are oriented around known schemata (sector-specific solutions, the Austrian Packaging Ordinance) to make applying the catalogue as simple as possible.
Product group sheet files and catalogue search function
The system participation requirement catalogue is also available for use on the ZSVR's website as a database with a search function.
In addition to using the catalogue database to conveniently and quickly search for your product groups and products, you can also download the catalogue's product data sheets and any other information in a separate file. The product group sheet files can be found here.
How the catalogue was created
The ZSVR's starting point for the structure of the catalogue was the feature of 'typicality'. For all of the products, the question was whether waste could typically be deemed to accumulate with private final consumers, bearing in mind prevailing practice. The assessment based on prevailing practice uses objective criteria, such as the contents of the packaging (who usually consumes/uses the packaged goods/product) and the design of the packaging, including its size and other properties (e.g., content volume/size, material, weight) as well as the typical distribution channel (e.g., retail shop, wholesaler).
Using this as a basis, GVM Gesellschaft für Verpackungsmarktforschung mbH conducted in-depth analyses of the data they had on hand and sourced additional information. This work included evaluating concrete reference lists of sources of waste generation, telephone surveys, store checks, evaluating online product ranges, evaluating distributors' distribution data, evaluating statistics on size categories to delineate the volume criterion for craft enterprises and agricultural holdings.
The methodology used to create the system participation requirement catalogue is set out here.
These results for the individual product groups were discussed with the ZSVR as part of regular evaluations and then explored further with other involved authorities.
The ZSVR has published the system participation requirement catalogue ('catalogue') for 2023. A draft version of the catalogue was first published in August 2018 as part of a public consultation to engage stakeholders in the industry. Once this consultation had been concluded, the catalogue was published as an administrative regulation that same year.
The catalogue has been reviewed annually since then, amended as necessary and expanded to include missing products. The ZSVR has added one new product group and a total of 79 product sheets during these annual consultations over the past years, and published a new catalogue taking these additions and amendments into account every year.
The ZSVR again reviewed and edited the catalogue before publishing its 2023 edition, with a total of 25 products and corresponding product sheets being added across nine existing product groups.
Service packaging is '[…] packaging that is filled by the final distributor for the first time and that is used in order so enable or support transfer to the final consumer […]'' (section 3 (1) no. 1 (a) VerpackG and it is a type of retail packaging.
A feature of service packaging is that it will usually be filled at around the same time that it will be placed on the German market, i.e. handed over to the final consumer.
Service packaging includes the following segments (for example):
- cups for hot beverages, including lids;
- cups for cold beverages;
- vending machine cups;
- cups for ice cream, milk shakes, spirits, etc.;
- containers and cups for foodstuffs, e.g., soups, smoothies, cereals, popcorn, etc.;
- plates and bowls for soups, combination plates, etc.;
- salad containers, combination meal containers, with or without lids;
- trays and bowls, e.g., for cakes, sausages, salads, chips, etc.;
- combination meal and snack boxes, e.g., lunch boxes, noodle boxes, pizza boxes;
- bags, wrapping, sheets, conical bags, e.g., sandwich bags, thermal bags, wraps, chip bags, etc.;
- produce roll bags, bags, conical bags and wrappings given out in the course of fruit and vegetable retail – in direct sales, weekly markets or in the fruit and vegetable areas of grocery stores;
- bags, sheets, wrappings given out at fresh food counters in stores, artisanal food production businesses or fine food retailers;
- carrier bags of all kinds;
- gift packaging (wrapping paper, gift bags/boxes) to cover goods as long as it is not purchased as a separate product;
- wrapping and bags given out by laundrettes and dry cleaners;
- netting, flower wrapping, flower foils, wrapping materials given out by florists, gardening centres or given out with Christmas trees;
- other packaging, including cake doilies, cake toppers, manchette, carriers, etc.
It is only on an exceptional basis that service packaging does not accumulate as waste with private final consumers.
As such, all service packaging is subject to system participation without exception.
Because of this fact, no such listing is included in the catalogue.
Do you have questions or comments about applying the system participation requirement catalogue? If so, please write to the following email address:
In your email, please provide your full contact details and, if applicable, the complete address of your company or organisation.
We thank you for your understanding that
- inquiries by telephone will not be answered.
- anonymous questions will not be answered.
- questions not accompanied by complete contact details will not be answered.
- answering questions may take some time.
- press inquiries sent to this contact address will not be answered. Please direct these exclusively to presse[at]verpackungsregister.org.