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Commercial Angles' Newsletter - September 2001

German packaging regulations

Any organisation in the European Economic Area (EEA) which sends end-consumer products to Germany must comply with the German packaging regulations. The regulations apply to manufacturers, exporters and distributors of end-consumer products and even to importers of goods from countries outside EEA. For example a UK organisation importing end-consumer goods from Thailand or USA will be responsible for adhering to the German regulations if the products are distributed in Germany.

Under the German packaging regulations suppliers are under an obligation to take back and recycle up to 70% of their packaging and submit audited documents to prove it. Organisations which don't comply with the regulations could face fines of about £30,000. The costs to a UK company of setting up its own collection scheme in Germany could be huge but alternatives are available.

Der Grüne Punkt

The major alternative to taking back your own packaging is to use the Green Dot scheme operated by Duales System Deutschland AG (DSD). DSD is a not-for-profit organisation, separate from the local municipal recycling schemes, which recovers and recycles packaging put into circulation in Germany on behalf of its licencees. A company wanting to sell its end-consumer products in Germany can apply to DSD for a licence and in return is permitted to print a Green Dot on its packaging. This green dot is a trademark and may only be used by licencees of DSD. The Green Dot informs end users that the supplier of the products is a licensee of the Grüne Punkt trademark and thereby meeting the requirements of the German packaging regulations.

For companies which may be tempted to simply print a green dot on their packaging - beware. There are regular checks in shops that all products displaying the Green Dot are supplied by genuine DSD licencees. If they are not, they will receive a letter from DSD asking why they are infringing trademark law. The German-British Chamber of Commerce will follow up this letter on behalf of DSD in the case of infringements by UK organisations.

Applications for a licence may be made to DSD directly or through their UK agent at the German-British Chamber of Commerce. The costs of the licence depend on the type of packaging and its weight. As a rule of thumb the cost of the licence is about £1 per Kg of packaging. The definition of packaging is wide and includes CD cases, straw and carrier bags for example. Small companies with low sales in Germany are required to pay their fees in advance whereas larger companies may make quarterly sales statements. At the end of the year all licencees must submit an audit report to show they have complied with the regulations.

The procedure, although undoubtedly successful in achieving a high level of recovery and recycling of end-consumer packaging, may appear to be unnecessarily bureaucratic and a restriction on trade. In April 2001, the EU Commission announced that parts of the contract concerning the licence to use the Green Dot were incompatible with the single market. The commission pointed out that DSD was restricting competition by abusing its dominant position in the German sales packaging collection and recycling market. The EU decision means that DSD should no longer charge a fee for Green Dot packaging that had already fulfilled Germany's recovery obligations through another party or through self-management. The decision has been widely welcomed but DSD has announced that it will take legal action against the EU.

Articles from previous newsletters

Acquisitions & Mergers | Big Brother | Business Plans | Climate Change Levy | Company Car Tax | Contracts of Employment | Corporate Immigration | Corporate Responsibility | Data Protection | Energy Audits | Environmental Liability | Euro Notes & Coins | Exports to Germany | Export procedures | Fraud recovery | Out of Court Offers | Payroll Review | Prevention of Fraud I | Prevention of Fraud II | Prevention of Fraud III | Product Liability | Redundancy | Stakeholder Pensions | Temporary Contracts | Travel Expenses | Value of the Euro | Work Permits | More articles |

Copyright © 2001 Commercial Angles