To make it easier for parties under obligation and users of the Packaging Register to understand the Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act) and the duties of the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR), the following explanations and descriptions of key terminology are supplemented on a continuous basis.
Comparable sources of waste generation are equivalent in legal terms to private households owing to the comparable nature of packaging waste that accumulates there. They include restaurants, hotels, canteens, administrative offices, hospitals, etc.
Grouped packaging bundles a certain number of sales units and is offered in this form to the final consumer. They may also be used for stocking retail shelves. One example of this is the packaging of multiple bottles together in a so-called bottle carrier.
Initial distributors within the meaning of the Verpackungsgesetz are those parties who are the first in Germany to hand over packaging that is subject to system participation and filled with goods to a third party on a commercial basis (possibly even free of charge) with the intent that it be distributed, consumed or used.
The LUCID Packaging Register is the platform on which producers register and on which the ZSVR receives, stores and checks the master data of the producers / initial distributors. In line with the ZSVR's statutory mandate, the registered producers are published with their brand names in a list in the LUCID Packaging Register. The database also incorporates and processes the data reports of the different parties involved.
Packaging subject to system participation is retail and/or grouped packaging that has been commercially given out by a producer and typically accumulates as waste with private final consumers (private households or comparable sources of waste generation).
A private final consumer is someone who does not go on to commercially place the goods onto the German market in the form delivered to them. Alongside private households, private final consumers also include what are known as comparable sources of waste generation (see above).
Usually, the producer of a product is the initial distributor in Germany. If the initial distributor is operating commercially, they must register. If this producer is located outside of Germany, it may also be the domestic importer that is deemed to be the initial distributor in Germany and hence the producer.
The Verpackungsgesetz provides for the following categories of registered experts:
- Publicly appointed experts
- Environmental verifiers or organisations
- Experts accredited by a national accreditation body
- Foreign experts (experts in another EU Member State or another country in the European Economic Area)
Experts are only deemed registered if they are listed in the ZSVR's register of auditors.
These registered experts check the volume flow records of the systems, the sector-specific solutions and also the evidence in the event that a producer requests the return of system participation fees for packaging on the grounds of damage or unsaleability of the same. A second division of the register of experts lists auditors, tax advisers and sworn accountants; these may also audit declarations of completeness.
Retail packaging is made from any desired materials and used for housing, protecting, handling, delivering or presenting goods. Retail packaging is typically offered to the final consumer as a sales unit consisting of goods and packaging. It also includes service packaging and shipment packaging, all components of the packaging as well as packaging aids, e.g. labels, aids for hanging, seals.
Reusable packaging is intended to be reused multiple times for the same purpose. Their actual return and reuse must be enabled by adequate logistics and encouraged by suitable incentive schemes. Reusable packaging is frequently subject to a deposit system. This would be an incentive scheme as per the legal definition.
A sector-specific solution is a producer's free return and recovery system for packaging subject to system participation that said producer has placed onto the German market. A sector-specific solution is restricted to packaging for which evidence can be produced of delivery to a so-called comparable source of waste generation. The solution must be indicated in advance, and evidence must be produced annually of how the obligations set forth in the Verpackungsgesetz have been fulfilled.
Service packaging is packaging that is not filled with goods until it reaches the final distributor and that is used in order to enable or support handing the goods over to the private final consumer. Typical examples include bakery bags, butcher paper, trays for chips, takeaway coffee cups, or bags for fruit and vegetables. In this case – and only in this case – those who are the first to place the packaging filled with goods onto the German market (e.g. bakers, butchers, snack bars, cafes or retailers) can buy the packaging with system participation.
Shipment packaging facilitates or supports the shipment of goods to final consumers. All of the packaging material, including filler material, that is placed onto the German market in the process of sending or handing over goods to the final customer where it accumulates as waste is considered shipment packaging and is subject to system participation.
System, or also 'dual system', means a company that has received authorisation from the competent state authority for operating a system for the return of packaging subject to system participation. For this purpose, different conditions must be fulfilled, including providing evidence of nationwide collection structures, coordination with waste management organisations regulated by public law, and the availability of the required sorting and recovery capacities.
Since 1993, packaging in Germany has been collected separately from other waste – in yellow bags/bins, glass containers or paper bins/containers. There are systems in place which take care of nationwide packaging collection, sorting and recycling. Their services are financed through a system participation fee. Companies that place packaged goods on the German market must pay for the collection, sorting and recycling of their packaging. This is referred to as system participation – a requirement that has also been in place since 1993.
Whether a company has to comply with the system participation requirement or not depends on the packaging it distributes. The requirement only applies to packaging which typically accumulates as waste with private final consumers after use, such as retail, grouped or shipment packaging. This packaging is referred to as 'packaging subject to system participation'.
To fulfil the system participation requirement, companies have to enter into an agreement with one or more systems (a system participation agreement). The system participation fee is based on the volumes and the material of the packaging used by the company to place its goods on the market.
Each party under obligation is free to decide which system(s) they will enter into an agreement with. Several system providers exist in Germany. A list with all contact details can be found on our website: https://www.verpackungsregister.org/en/systems-overview
System participation requirement – yes or no? The ZSVR’s system participation requirement catalogue allows you to quickly check in an online database whether you have to participate your packaging with a system or not. The catalogue is an administrative regulation that is designed to make it easier for companies to classify their packaging.
Which packaging for nuts is subject to system participation, and which isn’t? What applies to packaging for paints and coatings, noodles, TVs, shoes or shaving products? Are all quantities treated the same, or does the filling or packaging quantity impact the system participation requirement? Our database includes a search function that allows companies to look for products, product groups and packaging that is relevant to them.
Alarms, bricks, combs,... The catalogue comprises 37 product groups with a total of 506 individual products, spanning numerous sectors. It covers many relevant food and non-food consumer goods.
Packaging that typically accumulates as waste with private finale consumers after use is subject to system participation. It does not matter where an individual item of packaging actually accumulates, but whether similar packaging of the same product mostly accumulates as waste with private final consumers in Germany or not. This depends on an overall market assessment.
The system participation requirement catalogue is accessible via our website, under https://www.verpackungsregister.org/en/foundation-authority/system-participation-requirement-catalogue/catalogue-search. You might also want to have a look at this guideline to help you use the catalogue.
Transport packaging means packaging which facilitates the handling and transport of goods in such a way that direct contact with the goods and damage in transit are prevented, and which typically is not intended to be passed on to the final consumer.