Packaging Ordinance (Germany)

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Basic data
Title: Ordinance on the prevention and recycling of packaging waste
Short title: Packaging Ordinance
Abbreviation: Packaging Ordinance
Type: Federal Ordinance
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Issued on the basis of: Section 62 of the KrWG
Legal matter: Special administrative law , waste law
References : 2129-27-2-10
Original version from: June 12, 1991
( BGBl. I p. 1234 )
Entry into force on: predominantly December 1, 1991
and January 1, 1993
Last revision from: August 21, 1998
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 2379 )
Entry into force of the
new version on:
August 28, 1998
Last change by: Art. 11 G of July 18, 2017
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 2745, 2753 )
Effective date of the
last change:
July 29, 2017
(Art. 12 G of July 18, 2017)
Expiry: January 1, 2019 (Art. 3 G of July 5, 2017, Federal Law Gazette I p. 2234, 2260 )
GESTA : E057
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The German Packaging Ordinance ( VerpackV ) was passed in 1991 by the then CDU / CSU-FDP federal government with the approval of the Bundestag and Bundesrat. It was the first set of rules that laid down manufacturers' responsibility for the disposal of their products. The system of the packaging ordinance, which is largely successful from today's perspective, almost collapsed several times in the first few years. It was about the pilot project of the later closed cycle law (KrW- / AbfG) - from 1996 - comprehensively and detailed regulated product responsibility. The Packaging Ordinance has been amended several times, including the lifting of DSD's monopoly (see Green Dot ). On January 1, 2019, the Packaging Ordinance was replaced by the Packaging Act.


With product or producer responsibility, the responsibility for the disposal of certain goods is transferred from the municipalities to the economy. The legislator or legislator

  • removes - here for packaging - the mandatory connection (obligation to hand over household waste to the municipalities),
  • obliges consumers to return packaging to producers through retailers and
  • the manufacturers to take back their products through the trade (§ 6 VerpackV, version 2001).

Since taking back contaminated packaging in the shop would be associated with many problems (hygiene, space requirements, etc.), retailers and manufacturers were given the opportunity to create an organization that could deliver the packaging directly to the consumer (yellow sack, yellow bin, container in the parking lot ) picks up. The collection system can also be expected to have a higher collection rate (Section 6 (3) Packaging Ordinance 2001).

With product stewardship and its take-back obligations, a new, market-based, flexible environmental policy instrument has been developed. It allows for flexible responses because a manufacturer can weigh the amount of the recovery costs or the DSD fee with other advantages of a particular package. For example, blister packs have disappeared from the household goods sector (kitchen knives, etc.), but not from toy stores.

The organization of collecting and sorting was initially only taken over by the Dual System Deutschland (DSD). It later also organized the recycling of plastic waste. The obligation to take back through the retail trade was only exempted if - in terms of the result - certain recovery rates (differentiated according to material) were met. The system had to be coordinated with the municipalities. Some used this opportunity to force DSD to use a certain disposal company as their vicarious agent. Cost-saving tenders then had to be avoided. In other cases, the tender was tailored to a disposal company in accordance with the requirements of the municipalities.

Classification of packaging

The packaging ordinance differentiates between sales packaging, outer packaging and transport packaging.

Sales packaging

Sales packaging occurs at the distributor or the end user. They protect the content.

Outer packaging

Outer packaging is not absolutely necessary additional packaging , for example the folding box for a toothpaste tube. They are used for advertising or facilitate storage (stackability). In terms of quantity, outer packaging is negligible. End consumers have the right to return outer packaging when shopping at the point of sale. Outer packaging is essentially treated like sales packaging.

Transport packaging

Transport packaging protects the goods from damage during transport or makes them easier to transport. They do not therefore arise from the end user, but only from the distributor of goods.

Special regulations

Beverage packaging

At the beginning of the 1990s there was a consensus that reusable systems had to be stabilized in the beverage sector. At that time, for example, a ban on aluminum cans was politically discussed. The European Economic Community or the European Community would have classified this as a trade barrier and prohibited it.

If the reusable quota was not reached by 72%, the legislator threatened to introduce a deposit on one-way (Section 9 (2) of the Packaging Ordinance of 2001). At that time, it was still assumed that the introduction of the deposit would stop the growth in disposable goods (see § 8 VerpackV 2001). The rate of 72% corresponded to the current situation.

Before the development of deposit return machines, the Union would have liked to have prevented the "return by retailers, return enforced by the deposit". The trade did not consider the personnel costs for two return systems (reusable and disposable) to be reasonable. Experts also pointed out that after the introduction of a one-way deposit, retailers would often opt for a take-back system. This does not necessarily have to be the reusable system.

The introduction of the deposit on one-way beverage packaging during the term of office of Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin ( Greens ) was controversial. In the newly formulated Packaging Ordinance, an 80 percent share of ecologically beneficial packaging was aimed for in beverage packaging. Section 9, Paragraph 1 of the Packaging Ordinance obliged all distributors of beverages to charge a deposit of 25 cents on packaging up to a volume of 3 liters. Without any recognizable ecological justification, one-way beverage packaging was exempted from the deposit if it contained fruit juices, wine or beverages with a milk content of at least 50%. It is noticeable that the privileges were based on the content of the packaging and not on the properties of the packaging.

While returnable glass systems for beer remained stable (share of returnable beer in 2009, according to the last survey: 88.49%. Total returnable share of 2009: 44.33%), all other returnable systems have lost market share. Retailers have come to terms with one-way, they need additional storage space, but not more staff, because they have set up reverse vending machines across the board.

The ecological balance of reusable glass is only positive if beverages are marketed regionally, in an area of ​​around 100 km. In terms of transport and energy costs, the heavy glass does worse and worse with increasing distance. The dispute for and against reusable beer was at least an economic conflict that was fought out with ecological arguments. Southern Germany still has many small and medium-sized breweries that could not and cannot afford a can filling system. The fight for “can-free zones” in Bavaria, supported by the state government and municipalities, was intended to protect the regional breweries on site from the beers of the large breweries in the north. In the 1990s they still threw surplus quantities on the market cheaply in cans. The large breweries wanted and want to keep disposable. Selling throughout Germany and exporting beer abroad is at least made more difficult if you can only use reusable glass. After all, the empty bottle cannot be transported back from the USA for refilling in Germany. When in doubt, you are dealing with a multi-trip bill; refillable bottles are used which are not refilled.

Reusable systems have been and are being undermined by the fact that more and more breweries use individually designed glass bottles for advertising reasons ( embossing ). These bottles cannot be transported to the nearest brewery for refilling, as required to reduce transport energy. Reusable only works effectively with standardized bottles.

Years ago it was proven that composite cardboard packaging such as Tetrapak and tubular bags made of plastic also perform well in life cycle assessments. You cannot therefore raise a deposit on them (Section 9 (2), last sentence of the Packaging Ordinance 2001). For several years now, PET has been available as a plastic through which the carbon dioxide contained in many soft drinks - as in the glass bottle - cannot escape. Mineral water in particular is therefore increasingly being offered in returnable PET bottles. In contrast to glass bottles, they have a significantly reduced weight of the packaging, which results in reduced energy consumption during transport. Like glass, PET can be recycled very well. PET disposable and reusable bottles have therefore replaced glass bottles for cola, lemonade, etc. This can be reusable or disposable.

Alternatives to the deposit on one-way beverage packaging

The position is taken that with the deposit on most one-way beverage packaging, politics has completely unnecessarily split up a disposal path that worked years ago. Until the introduction of the one-way deposit, all one-way packaging was generally disposed of in DSD's collection bins. The proportion of non-returnable drinks in the yellow bin was approx. 25%. Disposable packaging especially for beverages is now being recorded through the trade. Both material flows are brought together again in sorting and recycling plants. The deposit only brings advantages in terms of varietal purity. The collection and sorting of packaging via different paths, which then end up in the same recycling facility, is associated with additional costs. Statistics now show that reusable cannot be stabilized in this way. Before the introduction of the deposit on January 1, 2003, the reusable share (weighted, i.e. taking into account the market shares of the various beverages) fell from 71.69% (1991) to 56.2% (2002). After a brief recovery, the reusable share fell further in 2009 to 44.33%. This development in the beverage market away from reusable and towards disposable would have been even more pronounced if consumers had also accepted beer from plastic bottles. The quota of a little over 44% is only achieved because the reusable quota for beer even rose to 88.49% in 2009. This increase is likely the result of public criticism of canned beer. Canned beer has been removed from their range by some manufacturers. The Council of Experts for Environmental Issues has been speaking out against the one-way deposit for years. It is noticeable that the retail sector, which used to criticize the introduction of the one-way deposit, has now waived the requirement to remove the one-way deposit from the packaging ordinance. A study that the Federal Environment Agency commissioned to evaluate the Packaging Ordinance also speaks in favor of retaining the deposit. This is not justified by the fact that the one-way deposit has achieved its environmental policy goals. On the contrary, it is admitted that if one were aware of the development of the reusable rate, one would forego the introduction of the deposit solution today. The “system exit costs” are given as the main reason. The trade has invested a lot of money in vending machines; These investments would have to be written off if there was another system change. From an ecological point of view, in favor of the one-way deposit, the authors state that reusable has at least been stabilized in the beer sector.

Waste experts who are close to the Union take the view that one-way beverage packaging belongs back in the yellow bin. For one-way packaging, there would then only be one collection system, the yellow bin or, in future, the uniform recycling bin. This would eliminate the additional costs of separate collection systems for one-way in the beverage sector and other one-way packaging.

In order to further encourage reusable use, there is an option with little administrative effort: the collection of a one-way fee. The alleged and in part proven ecological disadvantage of one-way use is thus taken into account. Non-taxed reusable systems would become more interesting again from a cost perspective.

However, environmental taxes or incentive taxes are predominantly rejected by the economy. They were seldom enforceable against the opposition of the economic politicians of most parties.

The bad reputation of plastic packaging is due, among other things, to the fact that the frequent use of chlorine-containing plastics such as PVC was still criticized in the 1990s . The plastic PVC is now mostly being replaced by PET. PET non-returnable and returnable bottles can be recycled very easily. You can even use the secondary raw material to manufacture beverage bottles again. PET as a secondary raw material is also exported to China. Fibers made from this material are used in the local textile industry.

The discussion, which has also been characterized by emotions for decades, about the promotion of ecologically beneficial beverage packaging, especially reusable, must be continued on the basis of objective data. This requires comparative life cycle assessments for returnable glass, returnable PET and non-returnable PET.


With the third amendment to the Packaging Ordinance of May 27, 2005, an exemption for biodegradable materials was introduced. The rules say:

  • Section 16 , transitional provisions (2) Section 6 does not apply to plastic packaging made from biodegradable materials and all of the components of which are compostable according to manufacturer-independent certification according to recognized test standards until December 31, 2012. The manufacturers and distributors must ensure that the highest possible proportion of packaging is recycled.

This regulation was taken up and expanded in the fifth amendment of the Packaging Ordinance of April 2, 2008, which came into force on April 1, 2009:

  • Section 16 , transitional provisions (2) Sections 6 and 7 do not apply to plastic packaging made from biodegradable materials and all of the components of which are compostable in accordance with manufacturer-independent certification according to recognized test standards until December 31, 2012. The manufacturers and distributors must ensure that the highest possible proportion of packaging is recycled. Section 9 does not apply until December 31, 2012 for one-way plastic beverage packaging that meets the requirements specified in sentence 1 and is made from at least 75 percent renewable raw materials, insofar as manufacturers and distributors use one or more systems in accordance with Section 6 Paragraph 3. The fulfillment of the condition mentioned in sentence 3, according to which the one-way beverage packaging must be made from at least 75 percent renewable raw materials, must be proven by an independent expert within the meaning of Annex I No. 2 Paragraph 4. Otherwise, Section 9 remains unaffected. In the case of sentence 3 and insofar as disposable beverage packaging made of biodegradable plastics according to sentence 1 according to § 9 paragraph 2 is not subject to a deposit, manufacturers and distributors have to participate in a system according to § 6 paragraph 3, in deviation from sentence 1, insofar as they participate it is about packaging that occurs at private end consumers.

With this exemption and the resulting competitive advantage through the exemption from license fees for the dual system as well as the obligation to take back packaging and the obligation to deposit one-way bottles up to 2012, the development of the market for bio-based plastics and biodegradable materials should be boosted.

Recovery rates

Self-disposal companies and dual systems must recycle a certain proportion of the packaging they have brought into circulation (self-disposal companies) or the packaging they have licensed (dual systems). The recycling rates are the same for dual systems and self-disposal and depend on the material:

60% of plastic packaging must be recycled; however, 36% of all packaging placed on the market has to be recycled. The remaining 24% can be used for other purposes (e.g. energetic or raw material).

According to the last amendment from December 2005, since 2009 at least 65% of all packaging waste must be recycled and at least 55% materially recycled.

Minimum targets since 2009:

  • Glass, paper, cardboard: 60%
  • Metals: 50%
  • Plastics: 22.5%
  • Wood: 15%

The minimum targets have been met for all materials in the Federal Republic of Germany since 2005; the total recycling rate for packaging in 2002 was already 77.9%.

In practice, most manufacturers participate in a dual system. There are currently nine dual systems established nationwide, namely that of DSD GmbH (“Green Dot”), Interseroh , Landbell, BellandVision , EKO-Punkt, Vfw, Zentek, Veolia Umweltservice Dual GmbH and Redual.


"Free rider"

In the first few years, some manufacturers tried to register as little or no packaging as possible with DSD. This saved them the license fee for the Green Dot. The problem of free riders was brought under control in the 1990s with the help of trade. Large retail chains listed products for which no license fee was paid for packaging.

Today there are again a lot of free riders, around 30 percent. The reason is that the Federal Cartel Office and the EU have forced more competition in the system. DSD now has to collect packaging from other dual systems with its collection containers. Self-disposal from a specific manufacturer is permitted; industries can also develop their own systems. The competition, also politically wanted by the FDP, has meanwhile gone so far that one can no longer monitor the various disposal paths, the flows of recyclable materials. The highest waste authorities in the federal states are overwhelmed with this. The law-abiding packaging manufacturers help finance the disposal of free riders' packaging.

In addition, the dual systems that collect via the yellow bin have the problem that a lot of wrong throws end up there. It is non-packaging. Toothbrushes, clothes hangers, frying pans, children's toys, etc., so-called "intelligent missiles". From a legal point of view, they have no place in DSD's collection systems. From a technical point of view, these items can be disposed of or recycled without any problems with the packaging. The "stupid mistakes" are non-recyclable waste that belongs in the residual waste bin. Including all incorrect throws, the yellow bin currently collects 27.7 kg per inhabitant per year. The new Recycling Management Act 2012 aims to solve the problem with intelligent incorrect throws via the “uniform recycling bin” (legal basis: §§ 10 Paragraph I No. 3, 25 (III) No. 2 KrWiG 2012). The average volume per inhabitant is expected to increase to 34.7 kg / year. The introduction of a recycling bin - probably through a Recycling Act - which only depends on whether recyclable materials fit into DSD's collection bins and can be recycled together, is currently failing due to the dispute between municipalities and the private waste management industry over responsibility for the content of this bin . Some, especially the municipal waste disposal companies, are more or less openly calling for the remunicipalisation of the disposal of recyclable materials in household waste, or at least the right to organize this collection of waste and recyclable materials. The last-mentioned demand is also supported by the reporter of the SPD parliamentary group for waste law, Gerd Bollmann. According to the opinion of experts in the governing coalition, the problem with this is that it would violate the principle “whoever pays, reports”. The private sector refer to the success of the privatization of the disposal of recyclable materials since the enactment of the Packaging Ordinance and the implementation of product stewardship according to the waste law of 1996, §§ 22 ff.

The Federal Association of the Waste Management Industry, BDE, is very cautious in favor of “more responsibility for private recycling”, knowing the current majority of the SPD and the Greens in the Federal Council. Against remunicipalisation, the following is argued - also by the Federal Environment Ministry: As soon as manufacturers are exempted from the obligation to dispose of their products themselves or to finance their disposal, they lose their interest in a recycling-friendly product design. It is no coincidence that the establishment of an efficient circular economy began with the enactment of the Packaging Ordinance in 1991, i.e. privatization through the introduction of the first take-back obligation of the economy. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the total volume of waste fell from 406.7 million tons in 2000 to 332.6 million tons in 2010. If one looks at the recycling rates of the main waste streams, according to the Federal Statistical Office, these have been over 60% for all categories of waste since 2005, and just under 90% for building rubble since 2000. In the case of municipal waste, which is much discussed in public, the 70% has been exceeded since 2007, in the case of the more significant waste from production and commerce it is now over 80%.

Several studies that the Federal Environment Agency in consultation with the Federal Environment Ministry deal with the problems with the implementation of the Packaging Ordinance, the free riders (so-called sublicensing), and the dispute as to who should be responsible for the "uniform recycling bin" now possible under the KrWiG has commissioned.

The introduction of the “uniform recycling bin” - possibly through a recycling law that would then largely replace the Packaging Ordinance - is currently failing due to the different majorities in the Bundestag and Bundesrat. The governing coalition does not want to restrict product responsibility under any circumstances through municipalization, the SPD and the Greens tend to take into account the demands of the municipalities for “system leadership”.

Meeting the recovery rates

The second problem with the entry into force of the VerpV was that initially too few recycling plants were available - especially for plastics. The recycling of a ton of plastic cost up to DM 3,000 at that time. So it made sense for the less solid part of the waste management industry to collect the high fees and dispose of the plastic waste cheaply in a landfill in the new federal states or even in China. Disposal flows are now being controlled; dual systems must provide the federal states with evidence of recovery rates. However, the many free riders prove that there are still gaps in the controls.

Around the year 2000, the Greens and the SPD made the proposal to mark packaging that is difficult to recycle with a red dot. These should be thrown back into the municipal residual waste bin. The aim was to put the producers of these packaging under pressure by clearly labeling them as “ecologically bad”. From an economic point of view, everything speaks in favor of leaving the manufacturers of ecologically problematic packaging in the system (see Recycling Management Act, so-called 3rd disposal channel). If their packaging were to end up in the residual waste, these producers, of all people, would be exempt from disposal costs. DSD has long ensured that above-average disposal costs are allocated to the responsible parties, namely the manufacturers of packaging that is difficult or impossible to recycle (see the differentiated system of license fees at DSD).

Experience with the implementation of the Packaging Ordinance could be taken into account when issuing further take-back obligations. In this respect, the initially high system costs had a benefit in expanding the more comprehensive circular economy.


  • Kristian Fischer, Hans-Wolfgang Arndt: Comment on the Packaging Ordinance. 2nd Edition. Verlag Recht und Wirtschaft, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-8005-1212-6 .
  • Fritz Flanderka: Packaging Ordinance . Commentary and introduction to the Packaging Ordinance with the text of the Packaging Ordinance, the Recycling Waste Act and the EC Packaging Ordinance. 3. Edition. CF Müller, Heidelberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8114-3247-5 .
  • Walter Frenz, Monika Kaßmann (Ed.): Packaging Ordinance - 5th Amendment. Basics, theses, perspectives . Beuth, Berlin / Vienna / Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-410-16795-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: VerpackV  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. -01012019-28639.html
  2. see data on the environment from the Federal Environment Ministry / reusable shares in the beverage sector
  3. See the data from the Federal Environment Ministry on the environment. The last survey by the Society for Packaging Market Research in 2009 found a rate of 43.57% for mineral water and 36.53% for soft drinks with C02.
  4. See the statistics of the Society for Packaging Market Research u. a. published by the Federal Environment Ministry in the data on the environment.
  5. See again the statistics of the Society for Packaging Market Research.
  6. See for example the reports of the experts for environmental issues 2002, p. 407 ff., Bundestag printed matter 14/8792, and 2004, p. 352 ff., Bundestag printed matter 15/3600
  7. a b UBA texts on the Environmental Research Plan, No. 06/2011, see p. 10 f. and 14 of the abridged version submitted to the Bundestag Environment Committee
  8. ^ Gerhard Friedrich (CSU): Journal for Legal Policy from May 12, 2011, p. 108 f. (109)
  9. The Berlin SPD Senator Michael Müller recently spoke out in favor of a one-way delivery specifically for to-go packaging . The Edu-Magazin reports on an SPD paper in which several levy solutions are listed and demanded; in relation to the packaging area, the BT-Drs. 11/2188 pointed out.
  10. See the introduction of a wastewater tax and earlier discussions about eco taxes
  11. See the website of PET-Verpackungen GmbH, and a description of the properties of this plastic at
  12. Packaging Ordinance taking into account the 5th Amendment Ordinance ( Memento of December 9, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 198 kB); Unofficial version of the Federal Ministry for Environmental Protection, April 2008, accessed on June 2, 2019
  13. The President of the Federal Association of the Waste Management Industry complains about the lack of enforcement - at state level - and large loopholes in an interview in euroticker, edition of February 13, 2013; see also extracts on the BDE website
  14. a b Press release of the Association of Medium-sized Waste Management, bvse, dated December 5, 2012, the association's website.
  15. See the excerpts from speeches of the Bundestag debate on October 25, 2012 cited on the VKN website ( (article “Recycling law.
  16. See the Association of Municipal Waste Management Companies, VkU, website of the association, press release from March 17, 2011.
  17. see interview in Europaticker from February 13, 2013.
  18. see the graphics, published by the Federal Environment Ministry,, data on general waste management
  19. See texts on the environmental research plan, published by the UBA, in particular “Evaluation of the Packaging Ordinance”, No. 06/2011. Studies No. 8/2011 and No. 60/2011 report on simulation games for the further development of the Packaging Ordinance. The abridged version of the studies was submitted to the Environment Committee of the Bundestag under printed matter 17 (16) 359, meeting on September 28, 2011.