Germany’s Bizarre New Packaging Act

I have a small business, with all my customers being online. I ship to many different countries, including European countries. My business is very small — it’s a one man shop. You would think that when a government creates restrictions for international businesses shipping goods into their country, those regulations would mostly only apply to large companies and corporations. But not Germany’s new VerpackG Packaging Act. This act applies to all, including one man businesses.

I sell on Etsy and here’s Etsy’s instructions of what’s required…

Register with LUCID. As an online retailer, sellers are required to register with the LUCID Packaging Register. You must register before sending any products to the German market. Even if you receive a single order from a buyer in Germany, you are required to register with LUCID and report it. It’s important to register as soon as possible, before July 1, 2022.

Update your buyers of return and recycling options. The Packaging Act also requires sellers to provide information to buyers about return and recycling options. You can communicate this information to buyers using your shop policies, Message to Buyers, or a terms and conditions document. Visit LUCID for additional information on this requirement, or reach out to a local legal expert.

Add your LUCID identification number to your Etsy shop. After you register in LUCID, you will receive a unique identification number, which must be provided to Etsy in your Shop Manager. To add this information for your shop, visit Shop Manager > Finances > Legal and tax information and click on the Add LUCID ID number button under the Government registration section.

If any seller sending to Germany does not comply with the above, their sent package(s) will be confiscated by the German authorities. Some sellers may even be fined up to 200000 Euros (although I don’t know how that would be enforced on small international businesses, so I don’t think the fines would apply to them).

Look at the second requirement. As a seller to Germany, I would be required to inform my German customer as to how they can recycle the packaging material my product came in. That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen.

The bureaucratic nightmare is worst for German citizens selling in their own country. Register this, pay a fee for that. All of this is happening under the EU Packaging Waste Directive, so Germany might just be the first EU country to go this route.

The easiest thing to do for a small business like mine, is to stop selling to Germany, and that’s what I’m going to do. If all the EU countries do like Germany, I’ll stop selling to them too. It’s not a huge deal for me as I don’t get much business from the EU.

What is the reasoning and history behind this act?

The German Packaging Act, also known as VerpackG, came into force in January 2019. It is based on the latest revision of the EU Packaging Waste Directive from 2018.

Both focus on the core principle of ‘extended producer responsibility’, or short EPR. This means that producers are made responsible for recycling the packaging of their goods. The term ‘producer’, however, includes importers and retailers, too.

Through EPR legislation, the government aims to reduce packaging waste and improve recycling rates within the EU. Any party responsible for placing packaged products on the market must pay a fee for the recycling of their packaging waste.

This fee depends on the type of packaging material and is typically a few cents per kilogram.

The law thereby creates an economic incentive for companies to use recyclable packaging and fewer resources altogether. The fees are also directly used to fund the national recycling system.

Thus, compliance with the Packaging Act is a step towards more sustainability in e-commerce.

The German Packaging Act (VerpackG): How to get your online shop compliant

What a nightmare!