Bundestag passes amendment to Packaging Act

As reported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, restaurants, bistros and cafés that offer take-away beverages and food will also have to offer their products in reusable packaging from 2023. In addition, the legislature is extending the mandatory deposit to include all disposable plastic beverage bottles and beverage cans. From 2025 onwards, disposable PET beverage bottles are to be made of at least 25 per cent recycled plastic. In the future, online marketplaces and fulfilment service providers will need to check that the manufacturers of packaged goods are listed in the Packaging Register and have participated in a dual system.

As reported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, from 2024 restaurants, bistros and cafés that offer take-away beverages and food will also have to offer their products in reusable packaging. This obligation also applies if the food is brought home via delivery services. This is provided for in an amendment to the Packaging Act (Verpackungsgesetz/VerpackG); this amendment was passed by the German Bundestag on 6 May 2021. In addition, the legislature is extending the mandatory deposit to include all disposable plastic beverage bottles and beverage cans. From 2025 onwards, disposable PET beverage bottles are to be made of at least 25 per cent recycled plastic.

The amendment to the Packaging Act enables all consumers to obtain take-away food and beverages in reusable packaging. The rule is that the reusable variant must not be more expensive than the same product in disposable packaging. Moreover, reusable cups must be available for all sizes of take-away beverages.

Only small sales outlets are exempt from this obligation, e.g. snack bars, late-night shops and kiosks in which no more than five employees work and which have a shop floor space of no more than 80 square metres. However, they must allow their customers to fill reusable containers they have brought along themselves.

In addition, from 2022 a deposit will also be mandatory on all single-use plastic beverage bottles. Moreover, a deposit must then be charged on all beverage cans. This amendment ends the previous exemptions for certain beverages in plastic bottles and cans. Previously, carbonated fruit juice spritzers, for instance, were subject to a deposit, whereas non-carbonated fruit juice was not. The rules in future are as follows: If a beverage bottle is made of disposable plastic, then it is subject to a deposit. Exemptions for fruit juices or mixed alcoholic beverages in non-refillable plastic beverage bottles or beverage cans have been eliminated. A transitional period until 2024 applies to milk or milk products. Beverage containers already on the market may continue to be sold without a deposit until July 1, 2022 at the very latest.

The extension of the mandatory deposit makes it easier for all consumers to understand the system. After all, in future the rule simply is: A 25-cent deposit is payable on all non-refillable plastic beverage bottles and beverage cans, irrespective of content.

In order to increase the demand for recycled materials from the recycling process, as of 2025 PET disposable beverage bottles must consist of at least 25 per cent recycled plastic. From 2030, this quota will automatically increase to 30 per cent and will then even apply to all single-use plastic beverage bottles. Manufacturers can decide for themselves whether they want to meet this quota per bottle or spread over a year in relation to their entire bottle production output.

Furthermore, the legislative amendment contains numerous regulations intended to improve the enforcement of the Packaging Act, especially with regard to imported packaging. Operators of online marketplaces and fulfilment service providers will need to verify that manufacturers of packaged goods on their platform are listed in the Central Agency Packaging Register (Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister – ZSVR) and have participated in a dual system.

Following the decision by the Bundestag (lower house), the amendment to the Packaging Act still needs to be passed by the Bundesrat (upper house). Most of the regulations will then already take effect on 3 July 2021.

If you have any questions on the Packaging Act, the take-e-way consultants will be pleased to assist you. Call +49/40/750687-0 or send an e-mail to beratung@take-e-way.de.

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