This section serves as your personal guide to navigate the often complex topics of the circular economy by providing clear, understandable answers to the questions we are asked most often.

A collection of knowledge in which we answer the most frequently asked questions and concerns about recycling, sustainability and our vision.

This section serves as your personal guide to navigate the often complex topics of the circular economy by providing clear, understandable answers to the questions we are asked most often. From beginners just starting their sustainability journey to experts who want to dive deeper into specific topics, our knowledge collection is for anyone who wants to learn more.

Commercial Waste Ordinance

The current version of the Commercial Waste Ordinance (GewAbfV) has been in force since 1 August 2017. The aim of the amendment is to adapt the ordinance to the requirements of the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act (KrWG). The aim is to improve the separate collection of recyclable waste and thus recycling. In order to significantly increase the recycling rate, energy recovery is now only permitted in exceptional cases.

In addition to the introduction of a documentation obligation, the obligation to separate waste has been extended. In addition to paper, cardboard, cardboard packaging, glass, plastics and metal, wood, textiles and biowaste must now also be collected separately and prioritised for recycling.

If a waste producer achieves a separation rate of at least 90% of its waste, it may send the remaining waste mixture (max. 10%) for energy recovery. In order to be able to prove this rate, a certified expert must draw up a written report.

If waste cannot be collected separately, there are exemptions due to technical impossibility or economic unreasonableness (see below).

The following waste fractions must be collected and transported separately for construction and demolition waste:
Glass, plastics, metals, concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics, and new: wood, insulating material, bitumen mixtures and gypsum-based building materials

The following types of commercial municipal waste are affected:
Paper, cardboard and cardboard with the exception of sanitary paper, glass, plastics, metals and new: wood, textiles and biowaste. In addition, other commercial and industrial waste that is comparable to waste from private households in terms of type, composition, pollutant content and reaction behaviour.

Not affected are electrical waste, batteries and waste that is disposed of as part of the dual systems (yellow bag).

Waste producers and owners must document the implementation of the separation obligation and must be able to present the relevant documentation to the competent authority upon request. Proof must be provided in the form of descriptions, site plans, photos, practical evidence such as delivery or weighing notes or similar documents.

The ordinance defines exceptions to the basic separation obligation, namely in the event of technical impossibility or economic unreasonableness. However, the producer must then prove that the waste mixtures are sent to a pre-treatment plant. The disposal company or the pre-treatment plant usually issues the producer with a receipt for this. From 1 January 2019, the producer must also obtain confirmation from the pre-treatment plant that the plant complies with the technical requirements in accordance with the GewAbfV and fulfils the sorting quota.

Technically not possible
Separate collection is technically impossible if there is not enough space available for the waste containers for separate collection. Another reason may be publicly accessible waste bins that are filled by different people so that separate collection cannot be guaranteed (e.g. railway station, aerodrome).

Economically unreasonable
It is economically unreasonable if the costs for separate collection (e.g. due to very small quantities) are disproportionate to the costs for mixed collection and subsequent pre- treatment. Up to 50 kg per waste fraction per week (guideline value) is to be regarded as a small quantity (assessment according to LAGA).

For construction sites where a total of less than 10 m³ of construction and demolition waste is produced, the documentation obligation does not apply. If, for example, a bathroom is renovated on a construction site by one tradesman and a ventilation system is replaced by another tradesman, the 10 m³ limit applies to both construction projects. If several companies are involved in one and the same construction project, they are all subject to the 10 m³ limit.

Non-mineral waste mixtures that predominantly contain plastics, metals (including alloys) or wood must be sent to a pre-treatment plant. Mineral waste mixtures, such as concrete, bricks, tiles or ceramics, must be sent to a treatment plant.

The obligation to feed the waste mixtures into a pre-treatment or processing plant does not apply if the treatment of the mixture is not possible for technical reasons or is not economically reasonable. In such cases, the waste mixtures must be sent for other high- quality and proper utilisation (e.g. energy recovery or disposal).

Commercial municipal waste refers to commercial waste similar to household waste, such as wallpaper and metal scraps. Waste generated in private households is excluded from the ordinance. Paper, cardboard and cardboard packaging, glass, plastics, metals and biowaste, which were previously subject to the GewAbfV, must be collected separately by material fraction at the point of origin. Wood, textiles and all other types of commercial waste that are not explicitly named in the GewAbfV and that have been excluded from disposal by public waste management authorities (e.g. paint buckets or leather residues) have been added.

Failure to comply with the documentation obligation and violation of the requirement for separate collection constitutes an administrative offence that can be punished with a fine of up to EUR 100,000. Proof can be demanded retroactively for up to 3 years.

Generators are basically the natural or legal persons who decide that materials are no longer used as intended and can therefore be labelled as waste. Producers are, for example, construction companies or trading companies.
Disposers are the companies that recycle or dispose of the waste received at various stages.

Packaging Act

Here you will find information on when packaging is sales, outer, transport, shipping or service packaging and when there is an obligation to participate in a dual system.

Sales packaging is used to hold, protect, handle, deliver or present goods. It is typically offered to the end consumer as a sales unit consisting of goods and packaging. This also includes service packaging and dispatch packaging as well as all packaging components and packaging aids, such as labels, hanging aids and closures.

Outer packaging summarises a certain number of sales units and is offered to the end consumer in this form. Alternatively, they are used to stock the sales shelves. An example of this is packaging that groups bottles together as so-called “carriers”.

Transport packaging is packaging that facilitates the handling and transport of goods in such a way that direct contact and transport damage are avoided and which is typically not intended to be passed on to the end consumer.

Shipping packaging enables or supports the dispatch of goods to the end consumer. All packaging material, including the filling material, which is placed on the market as part of the handover or dispatch to the end consumer and accumulates there for disposal, is considered to be dispatch packaging and is subject to system participation.

Service packaging is packaging that is only filled with goods at the final distributor in order to enable or support the handover to the private end consumer. Typical examples are bread roll bags, butcher’s paper, trays for French fries, coffee-to-go cups or bags for fruit and vegetables. Here – and only here – the person who places this packaging filled with goods on the market for the first time (e.g. bakers, butchers, snack bars, cafés or other retailers) may already purchase the packaging with system participation.

Packaging subject to system participation is sales, service, outer or shipping packaging filled with goods that typically remains with the private end consumer as waste after use.

Anyone who fills packaging subject to system participation, which typically accumulates as waste with private final consumers, with goods is considered a producer.
A company is a producer if it fills packaging subject to system participation that typically accumulates as waste with private final consumers with goods.
This explicitly does not include producers of unfilled packaging; exceptions apply to service packaging.

Distributors (resellers) of externally sourced and already packaged goods are not producers of packaging subject to system participation within the meaning of the Packaging Act.

Please note: In addition to private households, other sources of waste generation fall under the definition of private final consumers. These include, in particular, restaurants, hotels, service stations, canteens, administrations, barracks, hospitals, educational institutions, charitable organisations and branches of freelancers. In addition, typical sources in the cultural sector such as cinemas, operas and museums, as well as in the leisure sector such as holiday resorts, leisure parks and sports stadiums. Comparable sources of waste generation are also agricultural businesses and craft businesses whose packaging waste can be disposed of using standard household collection containers for paper, cardboard and carton as well as for plastic, metal and composite packaging, but with a maximum of 1 100-litre emptiable container per collection group, at the usual household collection frequency (Section 3 (11) VerpackG).

Please note: From 1 January 2019, a distribution ban will apply to packaging subject to system participation if it is not registered with a dual system and the manufacturer is not registered with the Zentrale Stelle. To check registration, the Central Agency Packaging Register will provide an overview of all registered manufacturers and brands at from January 2019.

All manufacturers of packaging subject to system participation must licence it with a dual system.
All manufacturers of packaging subject to system participation are obliged to participate in a dual system. This is intended to ensure that sales and secondary packaging is taken back across the board.
Without participation in a dual system, packaging subject to system participation may not be passed on to third parties.
When registering with a dual system, the material type and mass as well as the registration number must be provided to the Central Agency (new).
The systems are obliged to confirm participation to the producers without delay, stating the material type and mass. Participation in a dual system can be carried out by an authorised third party (e.g. broker, auditor, consultant).

Exceptions to the system participation obligation: Service packaging (see also “What types of packaging are there?”):

If goods are delivered using service packaging, the upstream distributor (producer/wholesaler from whom the packaging material was purchased) of the service packaging can be required to participate in a dual system. In this case, the obligation to participate in the system is transferred to the upstream distributor.
There is no obligation to participate in a dual system for this packaging. The mandatory registration with the Central Agency and the obligation to report data and submit a declaration of completeness also no longer apply.
Note: The upstream distributors will often already state on the invoice documents that the packaging in question is licensed with a dual system. If this is not the case, the upstream distributor should be requested in writing to participate in a dual system. Zusätzlich sollte darauf bestanden werden, dass dieser dafür eine schriftliche Bestätigung übermittelt
In addition, you should insist that they provide written confirmation of this You can register your packaging with one of the following dual systems:

From 2019, the fees charged by the dual systems will also be based on whether packaging is as fully recyclable as possible and consists of recycled/renewable raw materials.
From 2019, the legislator will oblige the dual systems to promote the use of packaging
that consist of materials and material combinations that can be recycled to the highest possible percentage
and/or consist of recycled and renewable raw materials.
Please note: Companies that use packaging that fulfils these requirements will therefore pay lower fees in future than companies that use packaging that is difficult to recycle and/or is not made from recycled material or renewable raw materials.

How do I register? What other obligations must be observed?
New: Registration with the Central Agency
From 1 January 2019, all manufacturers of packaging subject to system participation are obliged to register (free of charge) with the Central Agency Packaging Register.
Registration must take place via the website of the Central Agency:
Please note: Registration must be done in person and may not be done via third parties.
Tip: Registration requires a list of the brand names under which packaging subject to system participation is first placed on the market by the obligated party (e.g. producers, mail order companies, importers). If you purchase goods of a certain brand and sell them on, you do not have to state the brand name as you are not the first to place the goods on the market.

Data reporting to the Central Agency

Manufacturers of packaging subject to system participation are obliged to notify the Central Agency of all data reported to the dual systems as part of the system participation obligation:

  • Registration number with the Central Agency,
  • Material type and mass,
  • name of the system
  • and period of system participation.

Please note: The data must be reported personally and may not be submitted via third parties.

All manufacturers of packaging subject to system participation are obliged to submit a declaration of completeness to the Central Agency by 15 May each year
The declaration of completeness must be submitted electronically to the Central Agency together with the associated test reports. It must be provided with a qualified electronic signature.

Exception: The obligation to submit a declaration of completeness does not apply to packaging subject to system participation of the following material types

  • Glass of less than 80,000 kg,
  • cardboard, paper and cardboard (PPK) of less than 50,000 kg
  • as well as ferrous metals, aluminium, beverage carton packaging and other composite packaging and plastic totalling less than 30,000 kg

was placed on the market for the first time in the previous calendar year.
The following information must be provided when submitting the declaration of completeness:

  • Material type and mass of all packaging subject to system participation placed on the market for the first time in the previous calendar year
  • Material type and mass of all sales packaging and secondary packaging filled with goods placed on the market for the first time in the previous calendar year that does not typically accumulate with private final consumers
  • Participation in one or more dual systems with regard to packaging subject to system participation placed on the market for the first time in the previous calendar year
  • Material type and mass of packaging taken back via industry solutions in the previous calendar year
  • Material type and mass of all packaging taken back by the manufacturer in the previous calendar year due to damage or unsaleability – to fulfil the recycling requirements for sales and secondary packaging taken back by the manufacturer that does not typically end up with the private final consumer after use
  • to fulfil the recovery requirements of all packaging taken back by the manufacturer in the previous calendar year due to damage or unsaleability

The information must be broken down by the following material types:

  • Glass,
  • Paper, cardboard, carton (PPK),
  • ferrous metals,
  • aluminium,
  • Beverage carton packaging,
  • other composite packaging (excluding beverage carton packaging),
  • plastic,
  • other materials (to be summarised in a uniform declaration).

As before, manufacturers and distributors of packaging that is not subject to system participation are obliged to take back used, completely emptied packaging.
Manufacturers and distributors of

  • transport packaging,
  • sales and secondary packaging that does not typically accumulate as waste with private end consumers after use (e.g. products that are packaged and sold to other tradespeople/companies),
  • sales and secondary packaging that is incompatible with the system (the Central Agency can declare packaging subject to system participation to be incompatible with the system if environmentally sound recycling is not possible)
  • and sales packaging containing harmful substances

are obliged to take back used, empty packaging of the same type, shape and size as the packaging they have placed on the market at the place of actual handover or in the immediate vicinity.

For final distributors (delivery to the end consumer), the take-back obligation is limited to packaging from their own product range.

Manufacturers and distributors can reach different agreements with each other and with end consumers – provided these are not private households – regarding the place of return and cost regulations.

If it is not possible to take back system-incompatible packaging or packaging containing harmful substances at the place of delivery or in the immediate vicinity in an environmentally and health-friendly manner, it can be taken back at a central collection point within a reasonable distance. Final distributors/mail order companies must clearly and recognisably indicate this return option.
Manufacturers/distributors must prioritise the preparation for reuse or recycling of the packaging they take back. This obligation can also be fulfilled by returning it to the previous distributor.
In the case of packaging that is incompatible with the system/packaging containing harmful substances, proof of fulfilment of the take-back and recycling requirements must be provided. For this purpose, the material type and mass of the packaging taken back must be documented in a verifiable form by 15 May each year for the previous calendar year and submitted to the competent state authority on request.

Non-registration with the Central Agency and/or non-participation in a dual system can result in substantial fines.

  • In the event of non-registration with the Central Agency Packaging Register or the distribution of goods – which already includes the offering of goods – whose manufacturer has not properly registered the brands it distributes, a fine of up to EUR 100,000 per case may be imposed.
    Non-participation in a system can be penalised with a fine of up to EUR 200,000.
    In addition, civil enforcement of the distribution ban by competitors is conceivable.

Single-Use Plastics Fund Act (EWKFONDSG)

Many plastics are extremely cheap and are used in large quantities, even for products with a very short lifespan. This is not only inefficient in terms of the responsible use of resources, but also contributes significantly to environmental pollution. The Single-Use Plastics Fund Act is intended to make those who put these plastics into circulation financially responsible: the manufacturers. They are to pay a levy for the products put into circulation in accordance with the polluter-pays principle. These levies are to benefit local authorities for the disposal of waste.

In its action plan for the circular economy and its strategy for plastics, the European Union sets out various measures, including the introduction of extended producer responsibility for certain single-use plastic products. This action plan is being implemented in Germany through the EWKFondsG, among other things.

The obligation will apply to most products from 1 January 2024. Fireworks will then also be included from 2027.

The law primarily imposes obligations on manufacturers: they must register with DIVID, the platform of the Federal Environment Agency, and pay levies for the products they put into circulation. Consequently, only manufacturers have to register with DIVID. However, the law also has an impact on retailers: they must ensure that the manufacturers of their products are actually registered with DIVID. If they are not registered, they will not be allowed to sell the products. The platform is due to be launched on 1 January 2024.

  • The following product categories will be affected
    Food containers (in the to-go and fast food sector)
  • Bags and wrappers (made of flexible material if they can be consumed directly from them)
  • Beverage containers up to 3 litres (including those with a deposit, but not those made of glass or metal)
  • Beverage cups
  • Lightweight plastic carrier bags
  • Wet wipes (for personal or household care)
  • Balloons (for the consumer sector)
  • Tobacco products with filters and filters intended for use in combination with tobacco products
  • From 2027: fireworks

The rates are set by the Federal Environment Agency. Manufacturers will be obliged to pay the annual single-use plastic levy for the first time from spring 2025. This levy is calculated on the basis of the quantity of single-use plastic products placed on the market in the previous calendar year and multiplied by a fixed levy rate per product type. The exact levy rate is determined by statutory order in accordance with the provisions of the Single-Use Plastics Fund Act.

The following levies are due for each kilogramme of products placed on the market:

  • Tobacco filters: 8.972 euros per kilogramme
  • To-go beverage cups: 1.236 euros per kilogramme
  • To-go food containers: 0.177 euros per kilogramme
  • Bags and film packaging: 0.876 euros per kilogramme
  • Beverage containers without deposit: 0.181 euros per kilogramme
  • Beverage containers with deposit: 0.001 euros per kilogramme
  • Light plastic bags: 3.801 euros per kilogramme
  • Wet wipes: 0.061 euros per kilogramme
  • Balloons: 4.340 euros per kilogramme

Manufacturers face fines if they violate the Single-Use Plastics Fund Act, e.g. if they fail to register products or declare incorrect quantities. This paragraph will be added as soon as up- to-date information is available.

In order to control the entire process, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is obliged to establish an informative system. The digital platform DIVID is currently being developed for this purpose. This platform enables the UBA to process all registrations and payments from manufacturers subject to the levy digitally and to distribute the funds to cities and municipalities in particular. Registration and use of the DIVID platform will be possible from 1 January 2024.

The law lays down the legal basis for the establishment and administration of a single-use plastic fund by the Federal Environment Agency, which will be anchored in the federal budget. The Federal Environment Agency also determines the amount of the levies on the basis of studies. According to current estimates, the fund volume is expected to be around 430 million euros per year.

The ordinance defines the levy rates and the payment system for the Single-Use Plastic Fund.

In 2020, the European Parliament adopted the compromise for the long-term EU budget and thereby decided to introduce a levy on non-recycled old plastic packaging – the so-called “plastic tax”. While a levy flows into a large budget pot, the contribution to the single-use plastic fund is earmarked.
Public waste management organisations and other legal entities under public law receive financial support from the Single-Use Plastic Fund to offset the costs of the services they provide.