Back to Blog Overview

The dual disposal system simply explained

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Xing

One of the legal objectives in Germany is the recycling of sales packaging. Since 1991, companies that supply packaging to end consumers have been obliged to take back their packaging waste for disposal purposes. With the so-called dual systems, an association was created in Germany that collects packaging waste collectively. Companies fulfill their obligation by participating in this network. As a rule, packaging waste is collected close to the end customer via the yellow garbage can or yellow bag, waste paper garbage cans and glass containers. The packaging collected in the dual system is then disposed of professionally and in an environmentally friendly manner, processed and, wherever possible, returned to the materials cycle. Manufacturers and so-called "initial distributors" of packaging have the choice of which dual system they would like to have their packaging licensed with.

Disposal of packaging waste: Who bears the costs?

The dual disposal system only works if the costs for collecting, sorting and recycling packaging waste are covered. This entire process is financed through license fees. Manufacturers acquire licenses from the dual systems for the packaging they put into circulation. By acquiring these licenses, known as packaging licensing, the manufacturers of packaging hand over their individual collection obligation to the providers of the dual systems.

The amount of the license fees is based on the disposal costs incurred, which are calculated according to the number of pieces, the material and the weight of the packaging.

Requirements by the Packaging Act: What goals are to be achieved by the dual disposal system?

The Packaging Act (VerpackG for short) came into force in January 2019. This formulates important goals, which include the avoidance of packaging waste and the recycling of recyclable materials. Part of this is the recycling quotas that must be met and which have already been increased as of 2019. There will be a further increase in 2022.

The recycling quotas prescribe the following targets:

  • Plastics: from 2019, 58.5%; from 2022, 63%.
  • Ferrous metals and tinplate: from 2019 80%; from 2022 90%.
  • Aluminum: from 2019 80%; from 2022 90%.
  • Glass: from 2019 80%; from 2022 90%.
  • Paper, cardboard, carton: from 2019 85%; from 2022 90%.
  • Composites or beverage cartons: from 2019 55%; from 2022 80%.

In addition, the mandatory deposit has been extended to packaging for beverages with a whey content and for beverages with a fruit and vegetable content. From 2022, this mandatory deposit will apply to all PET bottles and aluminum cans without exception. In addition, restaurateurs and distributors of to-go packaging will be required to offer reusable alternatives from 2023.

Collection of packaging waste through the dual system

There are two different ways in which the dual systems collect packaging waste: the collection system and the drop-off system. The collection system involves the decentralized collection directly from consumers or equivalent collection points, such as hotels, hospitals, government offices, and other facilities. Waste is collected in yellow bags or yellow bins, paper bins, and glass containers, which are then picked up by disposal vehicles.

The drop-off system refers to recycling centers where consumers can bring their waste. However, this system is only used to a limited extent, as most recyclables can be conveniently collected through pick-up services.


Since 1995, Zentek has been active as a waste disposal service provider and is certified as a Waste Management Specialist (Efb) according to ISO 9001:2008. Since 2008, the Dual System Zentek has been approved as an integrated system for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Nine shareholders participate in this, creating a nationwide network of waste disposal companies and sorting facilities. This allows for short transportation distances and significant CO2 savings.

The primary goal of the company is to provide services in line with the ecological approach of the Packaging Act and to further develop packaging recycling in Germany.


The shareholders of the Zentek Group work closely together to achieve the goals of the Packaging Act. They operate highly specialized sorting facilities that filter packaging waste based on their materials, characteristics, and quality. To fulfill the duties of a dual system, the Zentek network consists of various facilities, including:

  • Processing facilities for recyclables
  • Chemical-physical treatment facilities
  • Intermediate storage for hazardous waste
  • Sorting facilities for paper, cardboard, and cartons
  • Neutralization facilities for acids
  • Vacuum-thermal soil treatment facilities, soil remediation facilities
  • Plastic processing facilities, recycling facilities for (mixed) plastic films
  • Central disposal facilities (ZEA) for liquid hazardous waste
  • Wood processing facilities
  • Metal sorting plants
  • Waste-to-energy plants

These facilities sort mixed packaging waste collected from households and businesses. They separate waste into different materials such as plastic, metal, and glass, in increasingly finer steps.

Not only are different materials identified, but also different types within a waste fraction. For example, metals can be distinguished as iron, aluminum, and alloys, and plastics can be sorted effectively based on their recyclability.

Thermoplastic plastics can be melted down to give them a new form, but they need to be as pure as possible. An example of the good recyclability of plastics is PET bottles collected through a deposit system. While contaminated or heavily mixed plastics cannot be recycled as pure materials, they can still be used for energy recovery.

Mandatory System Participation: Packaging Licensing with a Dual System

To integrate their packaging into the cycle of collection, sorting, and recycling, manufacturers and retailers must participate in a dual system if they are considered "first-time distributors." This means that anyone who first commercially introduces packaging into circulation in Germany, which typically becomes waste for end consumers, is obligated to participate in the system.

This system participation is accomplished through packaging licensing. As described earlier, through licensing, the manufacturer transfers their responsibility for disposal to a dual system and also financially contributes to the disposal process. Manufacturers can conveniently carry out packaging licensing with Zentek online.


Zentek's Dual System provides a convenient online solution for companies subject to licensing. Through packaging licensing with zmart, licensees can easily input their annual packaging quantities online and receive proof of it within minutes. The quantity declarations are categorized by the specific materials of the sales packaging put into circulation.


Companies that first introduce products with packaging for consumers are required to participate in a dual system. Customers typically take these products home or have them delivered and then dispose of the packaging. Packaging licensing with a dual system must be completed before the products are introduced to the market in Germany. Otherwise, a distribution ban applies in Germany.

An essential part of packaging licensing is also registration with the Central Packaging Register (ZSVR) through the LUCID online portal. This registration, like licensing, must be done before products are introduced to the market. The ZSVR serves as a controlling authority to ensure that manufacturers comply with their obligations under the Packaging Act.

After registering with the Central Packaging Register, manufacturers receive an individual registration number. The data submitted is automatically linked to this number.

The following reports must be submitted by manufacturers:

  • Planned quantity report for the following calendar year
  • In-year quantity adjustment if quantities need to be retroactively licensed
  • Year-end report for each completed calendar year
  • Completeness declaration if large quantities of packaging are introduced to the market


Packaging licensing through zmart is simple and quick. It is particularly suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as individual companies that deal with small quantities.

Using zmart's online calculator, you can easily input your quantities and get an overview of the prices for annual licensing. Then, select the start date of your contract and complete your packaging licensing conveniently through the online tool. Afterward, make sure to submit your data to the ZSVR to complete your licensing in compliance with the law.

Conclusion on the Dual Waste Disposal System

For a functioning circular economy, waste consisting of recyclable materials must be processed and recycled after use. To meet this requirement, packaging waste in Germany is collected, sorted, and either recycled or disposed of properly through the dual system.

Manufacturers and retailers who first commercially introduce packaging into circulation must register with the Central Packaging Register and participate in the dual system, depending on the type of packaging. This ensures the retrieval and proper disposal of packaging materials. The entire process, from collection from consumers to sorting and recycling, is funded through licensing fees. Therefore, the dual waste disposal system in Germany is not only responsible for collecting waste but also plays a crucial role in recovering and reusing the valuable materials contained within it.