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European Packaging Law

As a seller, you use packaging material for every order you ship. The way these materials are used in Europe is not entirely without restrictions, as European legislation exists for the recycling of product packaging. Enforcement of these laws will intensify in the coming months, particularly in Germany and France. Failure to comply with packaging legislation can result in steep fines. On this overview page for packaging law in Europe, we share how the laws came into being, what the applications are and what you, as an entrepreneur, should pay attention to.

IMPLEMENTATION DIFFERS BY COUNTRY

The EU agreed in 1994 that each member state should ensure packaging materials are recycled as extensively as possible. By 2025, EU countries must recycle 65% of packaging.

Each country has chosen its own way to enforce this law. In the United Kingdom, legislation is not yet very strict: companies are only required to register starting from 50,000 KG of packaging waste. Germany and France are very different stories. Starting from the first gram of packaging material you introduce to the market as a company, you are obliged to take care of recycling. In theory, you’d have to ensure that each container is collected from the customer for recycling, or monitor reuse by customers. This, of course, is taking things a bit far.

For this reason, Germany and France have devised a system whereby waste managers recycle a quantity of waste corresponding to the numbers they have introduced to the market. This means that each year, you have to declare how much and what type of packaging has been used. In France, registration is mandatory, but you only have to give exact numbers from 10,000 products onwards. In Germany, you declare starting from the first product sold to any German customer.

How this works for other countries is outlined in the overview further down this page.

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PRACTICAL EXAMPLE WITH CALCULATION – GERMANY AND FRANCE

So: for every product that goes to Germany, you’ll have to keep track of how much and which packaging materials are used. For example, if you sell neck pillows, a new neck pillow will likely come wrapped in plastic. A cardboard box is placed around it when you send it to the customer. The plastic bag weighs 5 grams, while the cardboard box weighs 120 grams. 

You don’t have to re-weigh the package for every neck pillow. After all, you can make an accurate estimate based on the previous numbers. Suppose you sell 30,000 neck pillows to German customers, then that comes down to 150 KG of plastic and 3600 KG of cardboard. You declare this to the waste management company and in the national register. In Germany this is done at LUCID and a random German waste manager, and in France, only at a waste manager such as CITEO. Based on the figures declared, you then pay a fee to ensure that the packaging is recycled.

Overview per country

We’ve compiled an overview of the EU countries in which sales are most commonly made and the packaging rules that apply there.

         
Country Registration required from this amount Register name Packaging requirements? Max. fine
Belgium 300 kg IVC No €2.000.000
Germany 0 grams LUCID No €200.000
France 0 grams ADEME Yes, Triman on packaging €100,000
Greece 0 grams EMPA No No fines for SMEs
Lithuania 0 grams PPWIS No No maximum
Netherlands 50,000 kg OPEN No No maximum
Poland 0 grams BDO Yes, BDO-Nr on invoices €220.000
Spain 0 grams ECOEMBES Yes, Green Dot No maximum
United Kingdom 50,000 kg NPWD No No maximum
Sweden 0 grams EPA No No maximum

BELGIUM AND THE THREE-YEAR PREVENTION PLAN

You are required to register with the packaging directory in Belgium if you want to sell to Belgian customers through, for example, bol.com. In addition, you must draw up a three-year prevention plan. We can set this up for you directly and guide you through the process, ensuring you immediately comply with Belgian packaging legislation. You’re also required to make an annual declaration to the waste management authority. We can help with this as well.

Questions about Belgian packaging law? Feel free to contact us – no strings attached.

verpakkingswetgeving
verpackg Duitsland

GERMANY AND THE VERPACKG

In Germany, you are required to register with the national packaging directory and also register with a German waste management company (known as a dual system). We can set this up for you directly and guide you through the process, ensuring you immediately comply with German packaging legislation. You’re also required to submit an annual declaration to the waste management authority. We can help with this as well.

Questions about German packaging law? Feel free to contact us – no strings attached.

FRANCE AND THE TRIMAN

In France, it’s not only mandatory to register directly with a central directory, but also to have the Triman printed on every package. The Triman is a free, downloadable symbol that shows packaging is recyclable. This lets your French customers know that they should separate the plastic packaging, for example.

Questions about French packaging law? Feel free to contact us – no strings attached.

Triman

SPAIN AND THE GREEN DOT

In Spain (and Cyprus), it’s not only mandatory to register directly with a central register, but also to have the Green Dot printed on every package. This lets Spanish customers know that they should separate cardboard packaging, for example. In these countries, it’s mandatory to become a member of the Green Dot (a fee applies).

Questions about Spanish packaging law? Feel free to contact us – no strings attached.

green dot amazon

SELLING IN MULTIPLE COUNTRIES?

We help companies in every European country comply with the various European packaging acts. If you sell to several countries in Europe, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to look into each country’s requirements and provide you with an overview of the expected costs.

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