Any UK companies that sell goods in Germany need to be aware of new domestic packaging laws coming into effect next year or face strict penalties. From 1st January 2019, the German Packaging Ordinance, VerpackV, will be replaced with a new packaging act, VerpackG, which will bring changes to packaging standards and product distribution.

VerpackG is designed to reduce the amount of waste packaging throughout the distribution process, whilst also promoting eco-friendly alternatives. The primary way it achieves this is by increased visibility and accountability for producers and distributors through the introduction of a dedicated ‘dual system’.

Germany is the second biggest nation for UK exports, after America, and the strict nature of this regulation means that all packaged goods must comply. If a company is unprepared for the January change, they can expect fines of up to €200,000 or, potentially, prohibition from selling on the German market.

What is VerpackG?

Announced earlier this year, VerpackG is the name for the new Packaging Act that will come into effect in the German market from 1st January 2019. For the most part, the requirements of VerpackG do not differentiate from the current legislation. It affects all packaging that fell under the original ordinance and will have little effect on the actual method of distribution used by companies to access the German market.

Where the important changes lie in VerpackG is the dual system. This new legislation will introduce a new ‘Central Agency Packaging Register’ to which all manufacturers have to sign up. This is the case for companies that are already selling goods through the current system and those looking to enter for the first time, and all must be signed up by the January deadline.

Currently, many German distributors run collection systems for their reusable waste; however, with no official regulations, it is often unclear which companies are doing enough, particularly for the expense. The new Central Packaging Registry – otherwise abbreviated as ZSVR – will help to allocate the real costs of the collection of recyclable packaging in a fairer way than before.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of the ZSVR, however, is its transparency. ZSVR will be a public database, showing what companies have signed up to the new packaging legislation. It will then be easier than ever for both consumers and the government to see what companies are not meeting their obligations. This means there will be little-to-no excuses for manufacturers that do not comply.

The Future Standard for Global Packaging

In an outlining document published by the Central Agency Packaging Register Foundation, they state that the participation fees for ZSVR will be “a way of creating incentives for promoting recyclable packaging materials”. They, and the German government, hope that, over time, the process will become cheaper for those who use reusables in their packaging. This base idea behind VerpackG is one that is likely to shape all future packaging legislation.

2018 has seen many reports and societal movements designed to engineer changes towards eco-friendly packaging. Single-use plastics have come under heavy criticism, and only a lack of viable alternatives has prevented short-term change. However, multiple governments around the world have committed to medium and long-term environmental practices. In mid-December, nearly 200 countries agreed on measures to make the so-called Paris Agreement on climate change operational in 2020. This is the latest measure set to kick-start an environmentally-conscious approach to all aspects of governance in the future. Packaging will likely be one of the first to see change as the most public-facing and widely-reported area of the fight against global warming.

VerpackG should not be seen as an awkward addition to current packaging and distribution practices, but the standard for what is likely to be far-reaching global changes in the sector. With many advances expected in the future, it can be easy to let packaging costs continue to climb if care is not given at this early stage. We at ERA are specialist in helping major businesses achieve packaging cost reductions. We have worked with many high-volume corporations to help them reduce costs in areas such as boxes, fillers, pallets and more. If you are interested in streamlining your future supply chains, why not get in contact with us today and see what our experienced packaging team could do for your business?