Information & Orientation

Extended producer responsibility for packaging in the context of the Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act)

In Europe, packaging is subject to so-called extended producer responsibility. That means that, by placing packaged goods onto the market, the parties that do so also assume responsibility for ensuring that the packaging damages the environment as little as possible.

Of course, if packaging never comes into existence in the first place, this will cause the least amount of damage. That is why the prevention of packaging is at the very top of the hierarchy of goals. The changes that society has undergone in recent years, such as the sharp rise in online retail and takeaways (to-go coffee), an increase in single-person households, and more working parents (more processed foods and ready meals) have led to a marked increase in the use of packaging. The ecological footprint of packaged goods is generally much greater than that of the packaging itself. Against this backdrop, requirements for packaging have also increased. In keeping with the principle of prevention, packaging is designed to increase the shelf life of products considerably. However, it is precisely this issue which currently leads to situations where occasionally packaging is used that is only partly suitable for recycling, or which cannot undergo high-quality recycling, for example because of the use of barrier coatings. Another example is small 'single-serving' packaging, which prevents food waste but increases the use of packaging and leads to an increase in the number of packaging units. These conflicting ecological goals highlight the complexity of the issue.

It is for this reason that it is all the more important that in situations where the use of packaging cannot be prevented, such packaging should be reusable or suitable for high-quality recycling. Producer responsibility must be structured comprehensively; the entire value chain has to be engaged, and consumers need to be provided with more information. In order to make this a reality, it is necessary to set and achieve high quantitative and qualitative targets. This is what the Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act) of 12 July 2017 is designed to implement.

Role, duties and goals: Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR) and the Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act)

Click here for the Packaging Act

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