Germany’s Single-Use Plastics Legislation

Liberty Lemm summarises how the introduction of Germany's Single-Use Plastics Fund Act holds manufacturers accountable for the lifecycle of their products with an aim to incentivise sustainable practices. She outlines the reporting compliance requirements, penalties for non-compliance and the next steps affected producers need to take to ensure they meet their legal obligations.

In a significant move towards environmental sustainability, Germany passed the Single-Use Plastics Fund Act, or ‘EWKFondsG,’ on 11 May 2023. On 1 April 2024, this legislation marks a crucial step in the country’s ongoing efforts to mitigate plastic pollution. Here’s an in-depth look at what the EWKFondsG entails and how it impacts manufacturers of single-use plastic (SUP).

Legislation aims

The EWKFondsG obligates manufacturers of single-use plastic products, such as takeaway food containers and tobacco filters, to contribute financially to the costs associated with the collection, cleaning, and disposal of these items in public spaces. This measure aims to reduce the environmental impact of SUPs and promote responsible production and disposal practices.

The DIVID Platform

Starting 1 April 2024, producers of SUPs can register on the DIVID platform, an online system developed by the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, or UBA). This platform functions similarly to the LUCID platform, which is used for packaging registrations in Germany. Notably, the registration and reporting on DIVID must be done directly by the producers themselves; third parties are not allowed to handle these processes on behalf of the producers.

Reporting and compliance requirements

Producers must report the quantities of SUPs placed on the market starting 1 January 2024, by 15 May 2025. This deadline will be consistent annually. The legislation does not impose any minimum thresholds for registration and data declaration on the DIVID platform. However, companies whose SUPs exceeds 100kg in a calendar year may be subject to an audit. In such cases, their declarations must be supported by a qualified report from a registered expert, the same auditors used for the declaration of completeness.

Foreign producers must appoint an Authorised Representative (AR) within Germany to handle compliance matters. Although this AR does not submit declarations, they serve as the point of contact for the authorities in case of audit disputes. The written agreement for the AR must be in German, but there are currently no specific criteria on who can act as the AR.

Penalties for non-compliance

Non-compliance with the EWKFondsG can result in substantial penalties, including fines of up to €100,000 and other sanctions. Therefore, it is crucial for obligated companies to ensure they are fully compliant with the new requirements.

Producer next steps

To comply with the EWKFondsG, manufacturers should begin preparing now. This involves:

  1. Registering on the DIVID Platform: Producers placing SUP onto the market were able to register on the platform from 1 April 2024 with a deadline of 31 December 2024.
  2. Gathering and reporting data: Collect accurate data on SUP products placed on the market from 1 January 2024, and prepare to report this by the 15 May 2025 deadline.
  3. Appointing an authorised representative: Foreign producers must secure an AR and ensure all agreements are in German.
  4. Preparing for potential audits: If your SUP packaging exceeds 100kg annually, arrange for a qualified expert to support your data declarations.

Germany’s EWKFondsG represents a significant advancement in reducing the environmental impact of single-use plastics. By obligating producers to take financial responsibility for the lifecycle of their products, the legislation aims to foster a more sustainable and accountable approach to plastic use. As the implementation date approaches, manufacturers must take proactive steps to ensure compliance and avoid hefty penalties. This legislation not only safeguards the environment but also encourages innovation and sustainability within the industry.

For further insights into the Germany Single-Use Plastics Act, to understand your potential obligations, or to seek assistance from our dedicated team at Valpak, please contact us by emailing [email protected]