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Packaging Act

What will be the effect of the amendment to the Packaging Act in 2021?

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The amendment to the Packaging Act came into force in July 2021. It contains a number of gradual changes for manufacturers and distributors of packaging up to 2025. What will change for those affected and what are the objectives?

Packaging Act 2021: Why is there an amendment?

The Packaging Act, which was passed in 2019, was expanded in July 2021 to include a number of crucial points. This so-called amendment of the Packaging Act aims at the further ecological development of the Packaging Act in order to further promote resource management and resource efficiency in Germany.

Basically, the Packaging Act implements the European Packaging Directive 94/62/EC in Germany and thus regulates the placing on the market of packaging and its return as well as the recycling of packaging waste. The 2021 amendment implements two further EU directives into German law: the Single-Use Plastics Directive and the Waste Framework Directive.

Both directives are intended to minimize the impact of waste on the environment, humans and animals, and to regulate the handling of waste, and have therefore now been included. The changes resulting from the amendment to the Packaging Act will be implemented gradually by 2025 and will affect both the dual systems and the distributors of various types of packaging.

For distributors who sell their goods to end consumers, the amendment mainly means an extension of the existing registration, verification and documentation obligations. Distributors of transport packaging and secondary packaging in the wholesale trade, as well as online retailers, are also affected.

Who will be affected by the Packaging Act 2021?

On the one hand, manufacturers and initial distributors of all packaging filled with goods, as well as transport, sales, returnable and reusable packaging, will be held more accountable. This also includes disposable beverage packaging and disposable plastic beverage bottles. On the other hand, operators of electronic marketplaces, fulfillment service providers and distributors of service packaging are also affected by the amendment.

You will find out in the next section what the changes will look like in detail for the respective parties affected. This also includes what will change for online retailers and their partners in particular.


In order to achieve the objectives of the Packaging Act, no distributor of packaging is now exempt from the legal regulations. In addition to the already existing guidelines on the system participation obligation, the following legal bases result from the 2021 amendment:

  • July 3, 2021: An information obligation applies to manufacturers and final distributors of packaging that is not subject to system participation, such as reusable packaging. They must inform end consumers to an appropriate extent about return options and the purpose behind them.
  • Companies based abroad without their own branch in Germany can appoint an authorized representative to fulfill the obligations under the Packaging Act on their behalf.
  • January 2022: The first stage of the so-called "extended deposit obligation for one-way beverage packaging" comes into force. Certain single-use beverage containers that were previously subject to the system participation obligation are now subject to a deposit.
    Manufacturers of transport, sales, reusable and outer packaging that does not typically accrue to end consumers must provide proof of compliance with the take-back and recovery requirements.
  • Manufacturers of transport packaging, sales packaging, reusable packaging and secondary packaging that does not typically accrue at end consumers must provide proof of compliance with the take-back and recovery requirements.
  • July 2022: All manufacturers and distributors of packaging must be registered with the Central Agency Packaging Register – ZSVR via LUCID. This now also applies, for example, to distributors of transport and reusable packaging as well as single-use packaging subject to deposit.
  • Distributors of service packaging must now also be registered with the ZSVR. Here, however, there is still the option of transferring system participation to the upstream distributor and purchasing packaging that has already been licensed.
  • Operators of electronic marketplaces must check whether the (online) retailers operating through them are properly registered with the ZSVR. The same applies to fulfillment service providers. If system participation cannot be proven, a distribution ban applies and no further activities may be performed in relation to packaging subject to system participation. This means that the fulfillment service provider may not, for example, store products/packaging on behalf of the online retailer.
  • January 2023: Restaurateurs must offer their customers a reusable alternative, about which they must provide appropriate information. This reusable alternative must neither be more expensive nor be offered at lower prices.

Are you unsure which obligations apply to you? We at zmart are your contact. Feel free to contact us via our customer service. In addition, you can conveniently carry out your packaging licensing with us online in just a few steps.

Conclusion: The amendment to the Packaging Act tightens legal obligations

For players who put packaging into circulation, the amendment to the Packaging Act basically means a tightening of their obligations. This means that all distributors are now affected and even those without packaging that is subject to system participation must register with the Central Packaging Register.

The documentation and verification obligations in particular have been extended, so that in future it will be easier to check whether a company is fulfilling its obligation to take back and dispose of packaging waste. The gradual changes brought about by the amendment to the Packaging Act thus mean consistent involvement of all parties involved and thus more efficient implementation of the legal requirements.