UPDATE: don't forget to file for the previous year 2019. The deadline is May 31st.
Do you or your business sell physical products to consumers in Germany? If so, you need to comply with the new German packaging laws introduced in January 2019. Don’t worry; it could be more straightforward than you think. I went through the whole process in a little under 2 hours. Let’s dive right in:
Germany is keen to lead the world in recycling and in reducing their waste footprint. This new law is meant to enforce a stricter policy on packaging producers who sell their goods in Germany. The law is known as VerpackG (it replaces the previous law known as VerpackV) and sets out the obligations of packaging producers. The law is also referred to as the "dual system" and separates the responsibilities in two distinct conditions:
- Each applicable business has to register their expected annual packaging waste with the German packaging authority (Zentrale Stelle). They have opened a public database called LUCID. The database tracks your annual waste, the brands that you operate and holds information on your company such as tax and company registration ID and Director information.
- Once you are registered for LUCID you will get an ID. You are then obliged to use this ID to open a contract with a System Operator. System Operator partners are the companies in Germany who take care of the waste disposal and recycling. You need to provide an estimate how much waste you will produce by forecasting your annual sales and then calculate the total waste number for each material.
Who is required to comply?
Basically any business who sells or distributes products to end consumers in the German market. If you have an online store or sell via online marketplaces such as Amazon into Germany, you definitely need to take action. The law includes suppliers of packaging materials, packaging converters, pack/fillers, retailers, importers and distributors.
What if I simply ignore it?
Any company who fails to comply with the new regulations is liable for a fine of up to €200,000 Euro as well as potential trade sanctions. If you’re a small company, the risk of direct prosecution by the German state may be fairly small. However, what COULD happen is that your direct competitor checks the public database, finds your brands are not registered, and reports you to the authorities. OR one of your customers decides to check if you’re in the database and can’t find you. This could lead to potential serious problems for your company (and your competitors taking all your customers).
So how do I comply?
Just follow these easy steps:
- Go to the LUCID website: https://lucid.verpackungsregister.org/
There is an option to switch to English in the top right corner of the page
- Click: Launch registration process under “Producers”
Go through the process of filling out all the data. It won’t take too long.
- Then, once you are registered, you can find a system operator partner by clicking into “Volume Report” and then "Intra-Year Volume Report": I chose Bell and Vision GmbH as they had a good English language website with clear instructions. Don’t complete this form yet, as LUCID does a cross-check with the system operator that you have a contract with them. So I went to the system operator's website here first, in my case: https://www.bellandvision.de/
- Simply register your details. It’s easiest to sign an annual contract with them to renew automatically. They want to know the waste amount (in KG per year) for each of the materials, after which they give you a price. At this stage there is no need to be super precise, because you will most likely need to do an adjustment at year-end anyways.
Then, once this is completed you can go back to LUCID and provide your contracted waste disposal, they run a cross-check, and if all is well, you have registered for the dual system packaging law in Germany.
I hope this has been helpful.
Please leave any comments and questions below.
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Q: Should I also declare the Amazon packaging (ie the box or wrapper that amazon puts on my product before shipping out)?
A: No, Amazon has to declare their own packaging waste to the German authorities.
Q: If we sell other brand's products who is liable for the product packaging?
A: This law applies to all manufacturers and/or retailers who “are the first” to sell a packaged product – regardless of whether large or small – to the customer directly at the counter in a walk-in retail business or online to the end customer. So if you sell it to the end-consumer, you have to declare it.
Q: Where can I look up the formal guidelines?
A: Click here for the link to the formal guidelines from LUCID, which includes an English-language FAQ file