Online retailers beware: The new packaging law comes into force on 01 January 2019

Online retailers beware: The new packaging law comes into force on 01 January 2019
Published on: Oct 4, 2018
Updated: Aug 19, 2022

After the DSGVO, which has already caused online retailers sleepless nights with regard to their customer communications, another law is soon to come that may bring sweat to the brow of online retailers. Or is it perhaps not as bad as one might first suspect? The new packaging law is on the way and will come into force on 01 January 2019. So what does this mean for online retailers?

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Packaging - what does it actually mean exactly?

The term "packaging" is more far-reaching than many online retailers realize. So what does the term actually mean?

[tooltip title="Packaging" color="blue"]Products made of any material to contain, protect, handle, deliver, or present goods, which may range from raw materials to processed products, passed from the manufacturer to the distributor or end user.[/tooltip]

So, if you thought your materials were not covered by this term now, you may be mistaken. The term packaging can be used for cans, cardboard boxes and filling materials as well as beverage containers and much much more. For online retailers, this includes both product and shipping packaging.

The new packaging law - what changes?

Unlike the existing Packaging Ordinance, under the Packaging Act online retailers must register with the newly created Central Packaging Register Office as soon as they put packaging into circulation. Without registration, circulation is prohibited and punishable by a fine of up to 200,000 euros. The creation of this central body is intended to strengthen transparency in the licensing of packaging.

The new Packaging Act applies to anyone who commercially circulates packaging filled with goods and accumulating at the end consumer. This also includes filling materials. All persons who put packaging into circulation are responsible for recycling or disposal and must participate in one or more recovery systems.

Packaging, as before, must be licensed with one of the dual systems. The dual systems are responsible for both the collection and recycling of used packaging. However, according to the new law, the dual systems must now transmit the data or packaging quantities of the online retailers to the newly created central office.

Here is a compact and comprehensible summary of the most important changes:

Aim of the new packaging law


The main aim of the new Packaging Act is to ensure packaging disposal on a sustainable and competition-neutral basis. The introduction of the law aims to increase recycling rates while reducing waste generation.

The law is intended to put Germany on the path to a sustainable recycling economy and thus strengthen environmental protection. It is also intended to reduce the thermal recycling of plastic packaging. In addition, there is to be less deposit-free packaging in the future. The reason for this is that these place a considerable burden on the ecosystem.

Recycling rates for plastic packaging are set to increase from 36 percent to 63 percent by 2022. The rates for metals (60 percent today), glass (75 percent today) and paper (70 percent today) are to increase to 90 percent by 2022.

The new packaging law - what online retailers should remember

  • The law comes into force on 01 January 2019
  • .
  • The Packaging Act replaces the currently applicable Packaging Ordinance
  • .
  • The law applies to all who commercially circulate packaging that accumulates at the consumer
  • .
  • The principle of extended product responsibility
  • thus applies.
  • Participation in one or more recovery systems is mandatory
  • .
  • A central body is created to strengthen the transparency of licensing
  • .
  • The law aims to create packaging disposal on a sustainable and competition-neutral basis
  • .

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