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EPR: What is extended producer responsibility?

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Manufacturers and distributors of products and packaging operating on the international market frequently encounter it: the EPR or extended producer responsibility. What exactly is meant by "extended producer responsibility"?

What does EPR mean?

The EPR, extended producer responsibility, applies throughout Europe. It makes manufacturers and distributors of products in Europe responsible for taking back, transporting and disposing of or recycling them.

What is meant here is the so-called after-use phase of a product. In other words, what happens to it after use? This is summarized in the extended producer responsibility. It applies to producers of various goods, such as textiles, clothing and shoes, batteries and electrical and electronic equipment, but also to manufacturers and distributors of packaging.

Through the EPR, the EU obliges these companies to take responsibility for the proper collection, sorting and disposal or recycling of their products and packaging.

Why does the EPR exist?

The goal of extended producer responsibility is a functioning circular economy. Accordingly, products and packaging should not end up as waste and be disposed of after use, but should at best be reused, repaired, reprocessed or at least recycled.

The EPR is thus the EU's answer to increasingly scarce resources and the unacceptable handling of waste, which has a massive (negative) impact on people and the environment. The polluter pays principle applies: companies that put products and packaging on the market are also responsible for the associated raw materials and their recycling. They can also have the greatest influence on which resources are used in the first place and whether they are recyclable.

To meet these requirements, companies should not only participate in the disposal process. There are also approaches that already start with the design of a product and its packaging, such as the use of recycled or recyclable material or the possibility of reprocessing and a high level of reparability.


Companies affected by the EPR comply by paying fees based on the quantities of packaging and products they place on the market. In addition, products that do not meet the EPR requirements may not be placed on the market in the first place. This means companies must comply with numerous requirements even before they are placed on the market.

Since the EU requirements are implemented in national laws by each member country, it is often complicated for manufacturers and distributors of goods and packaging to fulfill all their obligations in their target markets. The requirements are individual and sometimes very different. It does not matter in which country the manufacturer is mainly established. What matters is which country he exports to. With an EPR compliance partner, these companies can meet their responsibilities without having to keep track of every change in the law themselves.

In Germany, manufacturers and distributors of packaging meet their extended responsibility by participating in a dual system through packaging licensing. This applies to both large corporations and small businesses that only sell a few products with packaging each year.

In Germany, the dual systems organize the collection, sorting, disposal and recycling of packaging waste. For this purpose, consumers and similar sources of waste dispose of it in the yellow garbage can or yellow sack. Other waste, such as shipping cartons or leftover food, is disposed of in the other garbage cans provided for this purpose. This waste separation is intended to make the work of the dual systems easier and, above all, to enable clean sorting. This is a basic prerequisite for effective recycling.


Through zmart, you can fulfill several of your legal obligations as a manufacturer and distributor of packaging. In Germany, the Packaging Act (VerpackG) obliges you to participate in a dual system. In this way, you fulfill your responsibility for the proper collection and disposal of packaging waste.

zmart is happy to be your contact and offers you numerous advantages. Not only can you fulfill your packaging licensing in an uncomplicated and digital way, but you can also book our EU package via our full service international. We act as your authorized representative and support you with all your legal obligations, including all the documents you need to distribute goods to the respective destination country.

Conclusion: The EPR as an instrument for a functioning circular economy

In order to make companies that put products and packaging on the market more responsible for taking them back and recycling them, the extended producer responsibility - EPR for short - was adopted in the EU. It obliges manufacturers to participate in waste management. In addition, it sets requirements for the recyclability and reparability of products, such as textiles, batteries and electrical appliances, and their packaging.

With an EPR compliance partner like zmart-international, you can meet your legal obligations, including recyclable packaging design and market approval requirements. This allows you to establish your products on the market with peace of mind.

Feel free to contact us directly.