Am I EPR-compliant and how do I get a certificate of participation for my packaging?

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certificate of participation germany

Why do companies have to be EPR-compliant?  

EPR is a concept in which manufacturers and producers are responsible for the collection, sorting, and recycling of their products and packaging to reduce environmental impact and conserve resources. If a company fails to properly fulfill its legal obligations around packaging in Germany, it faces serious consequences. This can lead to substantial fines of up to 200,000 euros and even a ban on distribution. It is therefore of the utmost importance to carefully follow the legal requirements to remain competitive.

Which companies are obliged and require a certificate of participation?

According to the German Packaging Act (VerpackG), manufacturers in Germany must comply with various regulations, including registration in the LUCID packaging register, regular volume reporting, and compliance with recycling standards for packaging.

First, the term “producer” must be explained. According to the German Packaging Act, a producer is a person who places packaging filled with goods on the German market for the first time on a commercial basis. This can be either :

  • a manufacturer of goods,   
  • a retail company,  
  • an importer or   
  • a mail-order company and e-commerce seller.   

In principle, this applies to any company that fills sales packaging (product packaging, transport packaging, service packaging) intended for private end consumers in Germany.  

  • fills, 
  • commissions the filling (fulfillment) or 
  • imports packaged goods.) 

For a better understanding, you can read more about the EPR obligations for manufacturers in Germany here in the blog article “Understanding packaging licensing in Germany: A comprehensive guide“. 

Each European country has its own regulations and legal provisions regarding packaging (or its disposal). It is therefore impossible to give a blanket answer regarding obligations for all European countries. If you deliver your goods to several countries, it makes sense to check your obligations and your individual situation with a consulting organization. If you have any questions, you can arrange a free and non-binding consultation here. 

What is a certificate of participation from a dual system? 

A certificate of participation for packaging is an official document that companies receive when they discharge their packaging to a dual system in accordance with extended producer responsibility (EPR). It serves as proof that the packaging has already been released and can be requested by customers, trading partners, e-commerce platforms or other partners in the downstream distribution chain.

What is the quickest way to obtain a certificate of participation?   

The online portal activate by Reclay is the easiest and quickest way to participate in a dual system for packaging placed on the market in just a few minutes. Here, quantities can be participated at any time (subject to legal deadlines) for the selected licence year and system participation fees can be paid for sales and transport packaging. Immediately after completing the payment, the company receives the invoice and the quantity confirmation by email. A certificate of participation is available for download as proof that all packaging placed on the market has been properly participated in. 

Which packaging quantities and fractions must be reported to receive the certificate of participation?

For Germany, obligated companies must determine exactly how much packaging is generated per year and which fractions (glass, paper, cardboard, tinplate, aluminum, plastics, beverage cartons, or other composites) it can be allocated to. The annual costs for the participation of this packaging always depend on the quantity and type of packaging. Finally, it must be mentioned that companies must comply with their reporting obligations both to LUCID and to their dual system (if they place packaging subject to system participation on the market). The reporting intervals and deadlines for the dual systems may differ from those for LUCID. Notification deadlines must be strictly adhered to, otherwise, there is a risk of severe sanctions. You can find out more about LUCID and how your company can obtain a LUCID number in the blog article “What is LUCID Packaging Register?“. 

Attention: There is no minimum quantity regulation in Germany! 

In Germany, system participation must be carried out from the first time the packaging is placed on the market; there is no minimum quantity regulation. In the online portal activate by Reclay, the exact prices for the various materials and weight classes can be calculated even without logging in. The payment of the annual participation fees is valid for one calendar year. This means that a company must check every calendar year whether the packaging placed on the market is correctly involved.

Smaller companies sometimes take “used packaging” to ship products to customers. There is often the idea that this supposedly “used packaging” does not have to participate, either because the original manufacturer has already done it or because it is considered “transport packaging” that is exempt from the obligation to participate. However, this is a misconception: as soon as transport packaging is converted into sales packaging and delivered to private final consumers, it must participate in a dual system. 

The importance of extended producer responsibility (EPR) 

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is both a concept and a policy aimed at making manufacturers and producers more responsible for the environmental impact of their products. Essentially, EPR means that every company that manufactures and markets products (including packaging) is responsible for its entire life cycle. Including disposal and proper recycling at the end of their life.

The non-compliant decommitment of packaging (system participation) and the lack of compliance with legal obligations around packaging disposal can have a significant environmental impact.

Here are some of the main impacts:  

  • Pollution: Failure to properly dispose of and recycle packaging waste can lead to pollution. Packaging can end up in the environment, including water bodies, forests, and urban areas, and have a negative impact on wildlife and the landscape.   
  • Waste of resources: Instead of using recycled materials, valuable resources are extracted. The production of packaging materials requires raw materials and energy, and if the packaging is simply disposed of after a single use instead of being recycled for reuse, these resources are lost. 
  • Overfilled landfills: When packaging is not recycled, it often ends up in landfills, filling up over time and causing space issues. 
  • Climate change: The production of packaging materials and their disposal contribute to the emission of greenhouse gases that affect climate change. Inefficient disposal of packaging can lead to an increased carbon footprint. 
  • Hazardous ingredients and loss of biodiversity: Some packaging materials can contain hazardous chemicals that are released into the environment if they are not disposed of properly. This can cause soil and water pollution. Or they endangered wild animals that eat them or become entangled in them. This can cause injury or death to animals and endanger biodiversity.  
  • Economic impact: Companies that violate laws and regulations can face fines and sanctions, which can affect their financial stability and competitiveness in the marketplace.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a forward-looking way for companies and society to take joint responsibility for our environment. EPR creates an incentive system to promote sustainable practices and minimize environmental impacts. EPR compliance is therefore not only a legal obligation but also a moral responsibility that companies should exemplify. By making our products and packaging more sustainable and ensuring that recyclable materials are kept in circulation, we are helping to conserve our natural resources and reduce environmental damage.

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