As of 1 July 2022, new registration obligations will take effect in Germany for manufacturers and distributors of packaged products.
In accordance with the Packaging Act, manufacturers and distributors of packaged products are subject to various obligations with regard to packaging. These include
- notification requirements;
- return obligations;
- recycling obligations; and
- registration obligations.
These requirements for economic operators are designed to minimize the negative environmental impact of packaging. The registration obligation was extended on 1 July 2022 so that, as of that date, all manufacturers and distributors of packaged products will be required to register their products online before placing them on the German market. This applies regardless of which type of packaging is concerned: the obligation applies to packaging in both the b2b and the b2c market.
The definition of “manufacturer” under the Packaging Act
The registration obligation applies to all manufacturers in terms of the Packaging Act, who will be required to register their packaged products in the LUCID packaging register before they can be placed on the market. In accordance with the Packaging Act, “manufacturers” are those who
- place their packaged products on the German market for the first time for commercial distribution;
- import packaging into Germany for commercial distribution; or
- fill packaging with products for the first time and make it available on the German market.
The definition of “manufacturer” in the Packaging Act therefore includes a broad range of economic operators which market their packaged products in Germany. Aside from manufacturers of conventional products, the definition may also include stationary retailers and mail order/online distributors, as well as importers of packaged products. The registration obligation applies both to companies which are based in Germany and to foreign companies which distribute their products in Germany. The latter may appoint an authorized representative to comply with their obligations under the Packaging Act. However, registration in the LUCID packaging register may only be performed by the company itself.
Registration in the LUCID packaging register is online and free of charge. The following information must be provided:
- the manufacturer’s name, address and contact information;
- the manufacturer’s authorized representatives;
- the company’s national (commercial register) number;
- the brand names under which the packaging is marketed; and
- information about the type of packaging (transport packaging, sales packaging, grouped packaging, reusable packaging).
Requirements for making packaging available in the b2c market
Additional requirements apply for manufacturers of packaging which is subject to licensing requirements, a category which consists of sales and grouped packaging which is typically thrown away by end consumers. Manufacturers of these types of packaging were required to register their packaged products with LUCID placing their products on the market even before 1 July 2022. These manufacturers will also now be required to issue a declaration as to their licensing requirements in which they confirm compliance with their takeback obligations. Manufacturers can comply with their takeback and disposal obligations by concluding a licensing agreement with one or more of the systems or by participating in one or more industry solutions. Manufacturers of packaging which is subject to licensing requirements are also required to provide the LUCID packaging register with certain information about the type of material and quantity of packaging.
Legal consequences of violating the registration obligation
If manufacturers fail to register their products, operators of electronic marketplaces may refuse to allow them to offer their packaged products on their platforms. As of 1 July 2022, operators of electronic marketplaces will no longer allow mail order and online distributors to offer products on their platforms in packaging which is subject to licensing requirements unless they have licensed and registered their packaging. Moreover, in case of packaging which is subject to licensing requirements, fulfillment service providers may only provide their services for manufacturers which are registered in LUCID and which have complied with their licensing requirements.
In accordance with the Packaging Act, manufacturers who fail to register their products or do so improperly will not be allowed to distribute their products. Violations of the registration obligation may be penalized as an administrative offense, with a fine of up to € 100,000. Affected companies should therefore register as soon as possible if they have not done so already.