The Packaging Act makes an important contribution to improving the management of packaging waste. For example, the Act requires that manufacturers, distributors and retail users of packaging materials register with a newly established central authority. The principle of "extended product responsibility" applies under this legislation: any enterprise that puts packaging materials into circulation must seek to minimize its potential impact on the environment. In line with this approach, the Act also sets higher recycling quotas.
However, some aspects of this legislation need to be clarified and made more stringent. The IASS Policy Brief "Moving towards stronger packaging waste legislation in Germany: An analysis of the German Packaging Act" highlights three opportunities to heighten the impact of this legislation:
1. Introduce legal provisions and targets to reduce packaging waste
The Packaging Act focuses on improving the recycling rate and recycling processes for packaging waste, but it can be further strengthened by including provisions aimed at reducing or avoiding packaging waste.
2. Incorporate strong market mechanisms to meet ambitious recycling targets
The Packaging Act contains revised and ambitious recycling targets for various types of packaging waste, including plastic waste. While the eco-fee modulation regulations promote the use of recycled and recyclable material in packaging, without economic instruments such as a tax on virgin plastic, it may not be possible to realise the full potential of these measures.
3. Clarify and strengthen the regulatory framework for the bottle deposit scheme
The Packaging Act aims to promote a bottle deposit scheme and achieve the goal of reusable beverage packaging in more than 70 % of all beverages. The legal provisions on the bottle deposit scheme need to be further clarified and strengthened, and potentially extended to bottles and containers for products other than drinks.
- Kumar P., Moving towards stronger packaging waste legislation in Germany: An analysis of the German Packaging Act, IASS Policy Brief (July 2020), Potsdam, DOI: 10.2312/iass.2020.036