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Story 3: Germany’s New Packaging Legislation – An Enhanced EPR Approach
The new German Packaging Act, 2019 replaces the Packaging Ordinance of 1991. It is an updated piece of legislation that aims to increase responsibilities of producers, include online marketplace sellers, and set targets for multiple material categories including recycled content as well as recycling rates.
The new German Packaging Act was driven by the 2018 EU Packaging Waste Directive. The new Packaging Act sets a target for plastics recycling as 90% of all plastics placed on the market to be recycled. Starting in 2022, a deposit will also be mandatory on all single-use plastic beverage bottles. Starting in 2025, PET non-returnable beverage bottles must contain at least 25 % recycled plastic and starting in 2030 this will increase to 30% and will then apply to all non-returnable plastic bottles.
The updated Act aims to make retailers more responsible for promoting the use of eco-friendly and recyclable packaging, including deposits on all single-use beverage packages as well as compulsory labelling of the shelves as either “ONE WAY” (i.e., single use) or “RETURNABLE” beverage packaging by the distributor. Owners of restaurants will have to offer reusable alternatives instead of single-use plastic packaging from 2023 when selling food and beverages for immediate consumption. The reusable options must not be more expensive than the product in the disposable packaging.
The Act requires a central packaging registry to ensure data traceability. Every manufacturer, distributor, and importer, retailer, including online retailers, have obligations in the new legislation. In addition, there is no threshold limit to exempt small companies, unlike the former Packaging Ordinance so it provides a level playing field for all producers. The registry will track legally compliant distribution of packaging, as well as tracking recycling volumes. The centralized packaging register is an EPR approach that requires manufacturers, as well as in-person and online retailers to register prior to placing their product for sale.
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