Sales packaging recycling in Germany

The German Packaging Ordinance obliges manufacturers and distributors to take back used, empty sales packaging from consumers free of charge and to forward it for recycling, regardless of whether they sell direct, via retailers, wholesalers or importers.

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Sales packaging is understood to be anything that helps with the containment, protection, handling, delivery or presentation of goods. The easiest way to determine what is sales packaging is to establish if the packaging in question is discarded by the consumer / end-user. Basically this is anything a consumer takes home with him upon purchase (eg. cartons, cans, tubes, jars, pots, polystyrene moulds and chips, bubble wrap, plastic bags etc). For all obligated companies, there is compulsory membership of a dual system (compliance scheme), which ensures that used sales packaging is regularly collected from private households and other locations throughout Germany. The German-British Chamber in London has for several years been advising British companies on how to comply with the many aspects of German environmental legislation. The Chamber works closely with compliance schemes to give British exporters a real choice of systems, suited to their needs.

Compulsory Deposit Scheme

Drinks manufacturers should also be aware that there is a compulsory deposit scheme in operation in Germany for drinks containers such as one-way glass bottles, one-way PET bottles and beverage cans from 0.1 litres to 3 litres.  This includes all beer, mineral water and carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks and alcoholic mixed drinks (eg alcopops).


Packaging for juices, milk and wine as well as ecologically advantageous packaging such as drink cartons, polyethylene tubular bags and stand-up bags remain exempt from deposit but are still subject to the recycling obligations under the Packaging Ordinance.