Amazon & German Packaging Law


#21

“The country’s pending VerpackG legislation will affect all manufacturers, importers, distributors and online retailers placing goods for sale on the German market,” commented Michelle Carvell, COO of consultancy firm, Lorax Compliance.

I don’t see Amazon.co.uk as a German market. Private German individuals choosing to buy off a foreign marketplace is not the same as placing goods for sale in the German marketplace.


#22

I couldn’t remember how the original documents were worded.
In this context goods are considered as being “on the german market” if they are listed on a website specifically targeting german customers in some way.
This is usually any of:

  • websites with a german domain name (such as those ending in .de)
  • websites that have a language selection which includes german as an option.
  • websites that list currency options by country and the options include germany (listing “euros” as a general option without specifically naming them as the currency used in Germany doesn’t count).
  • storing goods in germany with the aim to provide faster/cheaper shipping to german customers, regardless of the channel they purchase from (storing them in germany and shipping to france for instance does NOT count here since the goods don’t end up with german consumers in this case)

There’s probably a few other cases I forgot about.


#23

I would suspect that actively targeting advertising to German shoppers also counts.


#24

How would they monitor this law, without opening thousands of packages and seeing who is sending them ?

Sellers using FBA from the UK will have the Amazon outer packaging, as Amazon themselves are sellers all of their packages would probably not be checked as Amazon as a entity would have paid the packaging fee and registered (you would think so).

Also, FBA sellers that are below the €100K distance selling threshold would not have registered for VAT so they will not be registered with authorities in Germany. Those that are registered for VAT could easily be checked by the authorities to see if they are registered under the packaging regulations.

I can’t see how they would enforce this for FBA sellers that are not registered for VAT and shipping from UK under Amazon packaging.


#25

There is something called “Abmahnung” in Germany - not the authorities are monitoring, if you have registered, but other sellers can issue a costly “Abmahnung”, if you are in the same market segment and you are not registered. Costly usually means a low 4 Digit up to 5 Digit sums, muich more if caught a second time. And yes, that penalty is enforcable, for example by sacking your Amazon inventory.
And yes, it does happen, latest wave of “Abmahnungen” as lately as last week AFAIR.


#26

As far as I understand, this is not just a German packaging law, it is an EU wide directive and applies across the whole of the EU.


#27

I’m pretty sure it’s a German only law (VerpackG) to replace their existing regulations (VerpackV). Do you have an EU directive number?


#28

This isn’t quite the information we received from the Deutsch-Britische Industrie- und Handelskammer (German-British Chamber of Industry & Commerce) when we first enquired. This is what we were told, by email:

“On 1 January 2019 the new German Packaging Law took effect, according to which anyone putting commercial sales (primary) packaging into the German waste stream will need to register with the new Central Register LUCID and sign up to a dual recycling scheme. There are no more minimum thresholds for packaging quantities. This also affects companies abroad selling to German consumers, either directly or through distributors.”

Your interpretation seems at odds with the above.


#29

Personally I don’t see it. It is unmonitorable, unenforceable to require non German sellers to be registered for a scheme to sell in your own country incase a German buys from you.

Remember is is illegal to offer goods for sale in the EU and discriminate against any customer based on their location within the EU so you cannot offer EU shipping except Germany for instance.

So personally I call rubbish to the interpretation that businesses not soliciting German customers are required to register incase a German customer happens to buy from them.


#30

The end result of registering for this scheme is that a German customer can contact some company or another to have cardboard boxes recycled, as part of this I believe they’re supposed to give ther name of the company they purchased the items from.
No idea how the whole process works in detail.


#31

Bit of a Catch 22 then. I’d really like it to be the case that it’s perfectly fine to sell to a German customer who buys from a UK site, but I’m not convinced that’s how it works so for the few German sales I have a year it’s easier to just not ship there.


#32

That’s quite clear… The system works by having local recycling collections, with Grune Punkt being the largest and covering the most areas. The smaller companies may cover a certain area (e.g. just one city) but collect fees nationally then pay the other recycling companies to process the waste from their customers. Some companies don’t run any collections but instead pay the other companies to collect and process their customer’s waste. Since no one know where a specific item of waste is recycled it’s all done by tonnages and estimated across the country.


#33

My point is that by the customers having the give the name of the retailer, this means that if said retailer isn’t registered it becomes very easy to enforce a penalty/etc.
Of course that’s then down to the customer reporting the correct retailer.


#34

Customers don’t usually need to give the name of the retailer or wholesaler or manufacturer - whoever put the product on the German market. The waste for recycling goes into a yellow plastic bag and is collected. If there is an enforcement investigation the customers may be asked where they got the packaging from, but that seems like the only case where they would.

Article here, but not updated with VerpackG information - Grune Punkt no longer necessary but fee needs to be paid to a licenced operator


#35

We’re not saying you’re wrong, just that it conflicts with the official advice we received. (Assuming it counts as “official”.) To us, these measures seem like a restriction on trade between countries, if they do apply to retailers based outside Germany.


#36

Customers are never asked and there is no way to track packaging material, once collected.
So really this boils down to manufacturers/retailers/sellers need to be honest about their use of packaging material. The only tracable part of the waste management is the LUCID registration, which requires signing up with some waste processing company (actually rather “waste managing company”).