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Licensing packaging - explained simply in 4 steps

Huge amounts of packaging waste are generated in Germany every year. In 2018 alone, it was 18.9 million tons, according to the Federal Environment Agency. That makes more than 227 kilograms of (pure) packaging waste per person - and the trend is rising.

A large percentage of waste ends up in the garbage can for private consumers. In view of the disposal costs, however, product manufacturers and retailers are now also being asked to pay. In order to comply with this so-called system participation obligation, packaging licenses must be purchased in practice. You can find out how this works in detail here.

Who is obliged to license packaging?

Through the Packaging law (VerpackG), all manufacturers and distributors who use and circulate packaging for the first time are obliged to acquire packaging licenses. In other words: Anyone who fills packaging with goods in order to distribute them must also license the packaging.

The purchase of a license is obligatory from the first packaging that is subject to system participation. This means that even small companies that only circulate small quantities of packaging are not freed from the obligation to obtain a license.

What packaging must be licensed? 

In general, the Packaging Law concerns all types of packaging, regardless of their material, shape and size. However, the licensing obligation for packaging only applies to the following packaging categories:

  • Sales packaging: Packaging that is offered to the end consumer as a sales unit consisting of goods and packaging.
  • Shipping packages: Packaging that is filled with goods at the final distributor to enable or support the shipment of goods.
  • Repackaging – Packaging that contains a certain number of sales units and is typically offered together with them or serves to stock sales shelves.
  • Service packaging – Packaging that is filled with goods at the final distributor to enable or support the transfer of goods to the final consumer, such as to-go coffee cups.

 

Regulated by the Packaging Law, but not affected by the system participation obligation, is transport packaging, i.e. packaging that simplifies the transport of goods, prevents transport damage and is typically not intended to be passed on to end consumers.

Step by step: The packaging licensing 

Step 1: Registration with the Central Packaging Register (ZSVR) via the LUCID registration database.

Without registration with the ZSVR, it is not even possible to legally distribute packaged goods. If you are putting sales packaging into circulation for the first time, you must first register. You can do this via the public portal LUCID. After you have successfully created your profile, an individual registration number will be generated.

At the Central Packaging Register (ZSVR), you can register packaging licenses on the one hand, but on the other hand these can also be viewed by third parties, for example competitors. This makes packaging licensing more transparent, so that regulatory violations can be more easily detected, denounced and warned.

Step 2: Find the right license provider (dual system)

In Germany, the licensing of packaging goods takes place exclusively via the so-called "dual systems". Currently, there are about a dozen providers in Germany that fulfill the legal requirements of §18 VerpackG and are officially authorized to issue licenses. These include, among others:

  • Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland GmbH
  • BellandVision GmbH
  • INTERSEROH Dienstleistungs GmbH
  • Landbell AG für Rückhol-Systeme
  • NOVENTIZ Dual GmbH
  • PreZero Dual GmbH
  • Reclay Systems GmbH
  • RKD Recycling Kontor Dual GmbH & Co. KG
  • Veolia Umweltservice Dual GmbH
  • Zentek GmbH & Co. KG

Which provider is best for you depends mainly on what the dual systems have to offer. This is because the prices and service packages vary greatly in some cases. It is particularly important to calculate the annual packaging weight, broken down by material type:

  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Aluminium
  • Iron metals
  • Paper, cardboard, carton
  • Other composite packaging
  • Beverage carton packaging
  • Other material


This breakdown is necessary because the license prices vary widely depending on the packaging material, mainly due to cost differences in disposal and recycling processes.

In general, most providers offer an online calculator. There you can enter the yearly material quantities to calculate an estimated yearly price for the required licenses. At the same time, you can achieve the most adequate contract conclusion possible.

Step 3: License packaging: Data registration with license partner and ZSVR

After you have compared the license providers, it is time to sign a contract. If a company is already registered with the ZSVR, you can then proceed directly with the acquisition of the license. 

For licensing, you usually only need to set up a customer profile on the website of the respective license partner, which contains all the necessary data about your company. You can then enter the information on the packaging quantities in order to finally purchase the required licenses.

Caution: Licensing is not legally secure until the data has also been reported to the ZSVR.

 

Step 4: Declaration of completeness

Parallel to licensing and registration, you must submit a letter of representation if more than the following packaging weight quantities have been licensed within one year:

  • 80 000 kg glass
  • 50 000 kg Cardboard / paper / carton
  • 30 000 kg Metals, plastics and composites (in total)
 

Violations and consequences

A violation of the licensing obligation prescribed by the Packaging Law can be very expensive. For example, the Packaging Law provides for fines of up to €200.000, as failure to comply with the licensing obligation results in a ban on the sale of the packaged goods. In addition, warnings under competition law may also follow.

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