For an answer to the question, please see the following excerpt from our FAQ page.
The Verpackungsgesetz (Packaging Act) defines reusable packaging as follows:
'Packaging that is designed and intended to be used multiple times for the same purpose and whose actual return and reuse is facilitated by suitable logistics, and encouraged by an appropriate incentive system, usually a deposit.'
All of these constituent elements must be satisfied cumulatively; even the appropriate incentive system is mandatory. Where a producer/distributor sells exclusively reusable packaging, the system participation, registration and recovery requirements do not apply to them.
Yoghurt jar example:
The jars are sold in a shop with a deposit (incentive system). The distributor accepts their return (actual return) and delivers them back to the filling party (reverse logistics). The filling party then cleans the jars, re-fills them with their product and again sells the filled jar to the distributor, who offers the yoghurt jar for sale to consumers (reuse). In this situation, all of the elements are satisfied; the packaging is reusable packaging.
Since 1 July 2022, initial distributors of reusable packaging have been required to indicate this packaging type when first registering with the LUCID Packaging Register. Producers who had already registered before 1 July 2022 have to undertake a registration amendment to reflect this packaging type.
Single-use beverage packaging subject to deposit refers to sealed or largely sealed packaging (e.g. not coffee cups with a to-go lid) for liquid foodstuffs (section 3 (2) VerpackG), which is not defined as reusable packaging (cf. 5.1 'What is reusable packaging?').
Exemptions from the deposit obligation:
(1) Certain single-use beverage packaging is expressly exempt from the deposit obligation due to its volume. The exemption applies to packaging with a volume of less than 0.1 and more than 3.0 litres.
(2) Certain single-use beverage packaging is expressly exempt from the deposit obligation due to its design. Exemptions apply exhaustively to square, gable-top or cylindrical beverage cartons, or tubular bags for beverages made from polyethylene, or foil stand-up pouches.
(3) Certain single-use beverage packaging is expressly exempt from the deposit obligation due to its contents (cf. section 31 (4) no. 7 VerpackG), with beverage cans always being subject to deposit regardless of their contents. With few exceptions, this also applies to single-use plastic bottles for beverages (cf. Overview of key amendments of the extended deposit obligation starting January 2022 (verpackungsregister.org)).
(4) The exemption from the deposit obligation also applies to single-use beverage packaging for which it can be documented that its sole purpose is to be handed over to final consumers outside of Germany (exports).
Single-use beverage packaging subject to deposit must participate in the DPG's deposit scheme (DPG Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH, dpg-pfandsystem.de) (section 31 (1) VerpackG); it is not subject to system participation (section 12 VerpackG). This exemption from the system participation requirement applies to packaging aids for closing the single-use beverage packaging subject to deposit, such as screw caps, lids and crown caps. The exemption from the system participation requirement also applies to the labels of single-use beverage packaging subject to deposit, since they are considered to be components of the beverage packaging.
However, grouped packaging and retail packaging with a bundling function may be subject to system participation, even if the single-use beverage packaging subject to deposit covered itself is not. This includes, for example, bundling foil, trays, cartons, and bottle crates / bottle carriers (cf. 'When is packaging considered to 'typically' accumulate as waste with private final consumers?'). However, such packaging itself may be defined as reusable packaging (e.g. bottle crates), provided it fulfils the respective requirements (cf. 'What is reusable packaging?').
The ZSVR's decisions on the classification of single-use beverage packaging as subject to deposit can be found at: https://www.verpackungsregister.org/en/foundation-authority/classification-decisions/beverage-packaging-deposit.
Since 1 July 2022, initial distributors of single-use beverage packaging subject to deposit have been required to indicate this packaging type when first registering with the LUCID Packaging Register. Producers who had already registered before 1 July 2022, have to undertake a registration amendment to reflect this packaging type.