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Sustainability through system participation: This is how it works!

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By fulfilling their system participation obligation, manufacturers and distributors of packaging make an important contribution to greater sustainability in their company. How does this connection come about?

What does packaging licensing have to do with sustainability in the company?

The Packaging Act (VerpackG), which has been in force since 2019, obliges manufacturers and distributors of packaging to participate in the system. They fulfill this obligation by having their sales packaging licensed with a dual system.

Packaging licensing ensures that the packaging waste generated by consumers is collected and properly disposed of or recycled.

This process basically serves the manufacturers first of all to fulfill their legal obligations. So what does this have to do with sustainability? Let's take a closer look at both aspects.

What is sustainability?

There are various approaches to defining the term "sustainability". These differ in that they take into account different elements of sustainability and thus each define it from a different perspective. However, the various definitional approaches have one thing in common: sustainability is a principle of action in which resources are used only to a degree that guarantees that they can recover from their use.


The so-called "Three Pillars of Sustainability" represent a definitional model. This model includes ecological as well as economic and social aspects. According to it, environment, economy and social justice are equally relevant to achieve sustainable development. At the same time, all three aspects are interdependent, as a sustainable system cannot be maintained in the long term without their interaction.

The following diagram shows how ecological, economic and social sustainability are interrelated and why the aspects are mutually dependent.

Ecological sustainability is particularly oriented toward the idea of not overexploiting nature. This means not exploiting nature, but using its resources in a way that allows it to recover. Economic sustainability focuses on a proportionate way of life that can be pursued in the long term so that future generations do not suffer any losses. Lastly, social sustainability strives for a society in which tensions and conflicts can be resolved peacefully, civilly, and equitably for all involved.

And what is system participation?

The system participation or system participation obligation affects manufacturers and distributors who place packaging and secondary packaging on the market for the first time on a commercial basis that is generated as waste by private end consumers. This also includes importers and online retailers. They are required by the Packaging Act to have their sales packaging licensed by a dual system. In this way, they contribute financially to the proper disposal of their packaging waste and thus fulfill their obligation to participate in the system.

By licensing their packaging, manufacturers and distributors ensure that their packaging is collected, sorted and properly disposed of or recycled after use. This process enables the materials from which the packaging is made to be returned to the materials cycle.

What does system participation have to do with sustainability?

Packaging licensing is the decisive step that links system participation with sustainability. Packaging waste must be reprocessed or recycled in order for the materials cycle to function properly. In order for this to happen, the dual systems in Germany take over the disposal process and take care of the collection from consumers, the sorting of the waste in so-called sorting facilities and the subsequent processing of the recyclable materials for recycling.

This process is financed by the participation fees paid by the manufacturers. Without system participation or packaging licensing, the proper disposal process could therefore not take place.

The costs for fulfilling the system participation obligation also provide an incentive for manufacturers to take a critical look at their packaging. This can result in improvements in packaging design, such as reducing the material to a minimum. Manufacturers can save considerable costs at this point, as ecologically advantageous packaging is calculated more favorably in packaging licensing. Sustainable packaging design thus leads to advantages in system participation.


Companies that are required to participate in the system fulfill their legal obligations by having their packaging licensed with a dual system. There is no way around this. So how does this packaging licensing work?

The first step is to register with the Central Packaging Register. This serves as a control authority for compliance with the legal obligations. After the company that is required to participate in the system has registered there via the LUCID online portal, it can then conclude a participation agreement with a dual system. It is particularly important that the company then follows the last step of system participation: data reporting to the central office.

This data report must be received immediately after the packaging licensing. The planned quantity report for the following calendar year, the quantity adjustment during the year if packaging has to be subsequently licensed, the year-end report and the declaration of completeness must be submitted.


Small businesses and online retailers can now meet their obligation even more easily by fulfilling their system participation obligation online. Especially for distributors of small quantities, this type of packaging licensing is convenient and quick. It saves all paperwork, time and energy resources.

Use zmart's digital calculator to easily license your packaging that is subject to system participation. For each material type, you enter the quantity in kilograms, as well as the year for which you want to license the packaging.

If available, you can add a discount code. Then click on "License now". You will receive all documents by e-mail, so that digital options are also used in an environmentally friendly way here.

Conclusion: Sustainability and system participation are interrelated

A company that wants to position itself sustainably can include many different aspects in its sustainability strategy. It is not only the energy efficiency of electrical appliances, the commute of employees or whether reusable dishes are used in the kitchen that count. The products and packaging that the company sells also play an important role.

Packaging is an elementary component of a product. The distributing company must have it licensed with a dual system in order to fulfill its system participation obligation. Through this packaging licensing, the company participates in the disposal and recycling process of its packaging waste.

Without high-quality recycling of packaging materials, we would be more dependent on primary raw materials. However, recycling enables us to reuse raw materials that have already been used, in keeping with a sustainable circular economy. By participating in a dual system, manufacturers and distributors of packaging are thus making an important and sustainable contribution.

Would you like to license your packaging online in a legally secure and uncomplicated way? Or do you have questions about system participation or specifically about packaging licensing? Please feel free to contact us!