German Packaging Act on Etsy: What do online retailers have to consider before shipping?

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Etsy is an online marketplace for unusual products on which a number of vendors sell handmade and creative goods. Fashion, jewelry, cosmetic products, art, photography, toys and used goods can be discovered and purchased on the platform. Etsy sellers usually sell for commercial purposes and are small business owners.

Accordingly, the rules of the German Packaging Act (VerpackG) apply when shipping their products to private end customers in Germany, which imposes certain obligations on the sellers. What do distributors of goods have to do in order to comply with the German Packaging Act on Etsy? We have collected the most important information for you.

 

Overview: The German Packaging Act in relation to Etsy

  • Etsy is one of the largest marketplaces for handmade and unusual things on the web, where many small business owners sell their goods by mail.
  • Commercial sellers who bring packaging into circulation and send it to German customers must adhere to the obligations under the German Packaging Act of January 2019.
  • The obligations include registering with the Central Agency Packaging Register at https://www.verpackungsregister.org/en.
  • Then the packaging used for shipping to Germany must be licensed for a fee before it is placed on the market for the first time with the dual system provider – this is possible via Lizenzero.
  • Lastly, the companies need to declare the volumes of licensed packaging and the name of the dual system used in the Central Agency Packaging Register.
  • The point of these measures is that distributors of goods from abroad also contribute to the costs of the environmentally friendly disposal of packaging materials in Germany.

 

Obligations from the German Packaging Act for Etsy sellers

The current German Packaging Act came into force in January 2019 and implements the European Packaging Directive 94/62/EC into German law. In addition to many other aspects, it regulates the disposal of packaging that commercial sellers – including online retailers – put into circulation for the first time and sent to private end customers in Germany. All sales packaging in which goods are handed over to the end customer, such as outer packaging made of cardboard, paper and cardboard, glass, metal, plastic, wood and composite materials, are affected.

The activities in the sector are monitored by the Central Agency Packaging Register. There, companies that send goods to German end consumers have to register in the LUCID database. This is publicly available and can be used by customers and competitors to check the correct registration of a company. The companies then have to register with a dual system such as the Interseroh dual system and license their estimated packaging materials for the current year. At the beginning of the following year they then have to report back to the dual system and the ZSVR with a volume report on the packaging actually used.

These regulations apply expressly to business with private end customers. For commercial business-to-business sellers who trade with other companies and send items to Germany, separate regulations apply.

Please note: The first amendment to the German Packaging Act has been effective since 3 July 2021. The amendment tightens the previous requirements of the Packaging Act in various aspects. Among others, electronic marketplaces and fulfilment service providers are affected by the changes. All relevant changes for online trade can be found under "Amendment to the Packaging Act: Tightening of regulations for online marketplaces".

Step-by-step guide: How Etsy sellers act in compliance with the law

  1. Etsy sellers must register with the Central Agency Packaging Register in the LUCID database.
  2. Then they have to register with a dual system provider such as Interseroh via the Onlineshop Lizenzero.
  3. The distributors have to estimate the materials used in the current year and license them – the calculator from Lizenzero helps to determine the volumes.
  4. The estimated volumes and the name of the dual system must be reported to LUCID.
  5. The actual volumes of packaging materials used must be reported to the dual system provider and the ZSVR at the beginning of the following year.
  6. Companies that use very large amounts of packaging (in the range of several tons) must also submit a completeness declaration and have it certified.

 

FAQs: The most important questions about the German Packaging Act on Etsy

Operators of Etsy shops that are active in the German market and are affected by the obligations of the Packaging Act of January 2019 must unconditionally meet their obligations, even if they have their company headquarters abroad – for example in Great Britain. We have answered the most frequently asked questions for you.

 

1. Who does the Packaging Act apply to? Who is the first distributor according to the Packaging Act?

The Packaging Act applies to commercial sellers who, as producers or distributors of products, use previously unlicensed packaging materials for the first time and hand them over to private end users – for example by shipping. Examples of affected companies are online shops and retailers on marketplaces such as Etsy, Amazon, Otto and Ebay. But stationary shops are also affected by the Packaging Act.

2. Which packaging is covered by the Packaging Act?

Basically, all imaginable packaging materials that end up at an end consumer's household fall under the Packaging Act. In addition to shipping boxes, as they are often used in online shops, the materials also include filling materials, paper, plastics, metals, wood and composite materials, which – if they are being placed on the market for the first time – must be licensed.

3. Where can packaging be licensed?

Packaging can be licensed with the dual systems in Germany. Licensing can be done conveniently online – for example via Lizenzero, the online shop of the dual system provider Interseroh. As a company, you can create a customer account in just a few steps and conveniently license your packaging materials. With our calculation assistent you can also easily estimate the amount of packaging to be used in the current year.

Calculate your license fee now

4. What does a packaging license cost?

The costs for the packaging license vary, depending on the amount and type of packaging materials used. Small businesses, such as the operators of Etsy shops who use very small volumes of shipping boxes, can license their materials for as little as 39 euros per year plus VAT.

 

Sensitive penalties and warnings for violations of the German Packaging Act by Etsy sellers

Dealers who do not adhere to the relevant rules face a fine of up to 200,000 euros, depending on the size of the company and the extent of the violation. Companies can also be reported by competitors. In addition, the Central Agency Packaging Register can impose high fines. The German Packaging Act applies just as strictly to Etsy as it does to all other online shops – from the first parcel sent. Sellers on the platform should therefore absolutely meet their obligations.

 

Conclusion – German Packaging Act at Etsy: Involvement of sellers abroad in envionmentally friendly disposal

Due to the boom in online trading, for example on marketplaces like Etsy, the amount of packaging waste is increasing significantly. In particular, the amount of outer boxes that are used by online shops to ship their goods has increased significantly in Germany and all of Europe in recent years. The German government was therefore forced to act. On the one hand, with the new Packaging Act, participation in a dual system in the form of a cost sharing for the environmentally friendly disposal of participation packaging should be achieved. On the other hand, incentives should be created to avoid packaging waste whenever possible. In this respect, Etsy sellers can also make their contribution to sustainable recycling and a clean future by participating in the dual system.

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