The new packaging law came into force from 1 January 2019. This new regulation includes numerous obligations for manufacturers, retailers and other “distributing companies” with regard to packaging for end users. Providers are affected in terms of recycling and from a cost perspective. And the requirement for alternatives to outer packaging will therefore increase. We show you the most important new features and explain why Natural Branding is the most economical solution here. 

What is the new 2019 packaging law?

From 1 January 2019, the law regarding the circulation, taking back and high-quality recovery of packaging (packaging law for short) replaced the packaging legislation that was previously in place. The change of terminology is an indication of what this amendment is about: the requirements are higher, the checks stricter and the penalties greater.

The modification increases the requirements for reporting obligations, connection to dual disposal systems, displaying waste material details and the corresponding approval procedures. Also, new environmental statistics as well as higher recycling quotes are deployed. In essence, this amendment should therefore address the fight against the packaging mountain better and more fairly than was previously the case.

Why a new packaging law?

This is essentially to make the recycling and disposal cycle of packaging fairer and more transparent. By setting up a central body, the “packaging register”, there will now be a uniform supervisory authority with wide-ranging powers, which extends all previous isolated solutions to national or industry levels.

For however successful the dual system has been up to now in Germany, there were always “freeloaders” who passed off their disposal obligations to third parties and who evaded their responsibility to pay to a certain extent. This should no longer be possible and will help make recycling a truly collective task. From the perspective of avoiding waste, this law has an even more far-reaching effect: Companies which offer particularly environmentally friendly packaging, or which do everything to reduce packaging, now have the economic and administrative advantage when it comes to fees too – not only from the point of view of image, but also with regard to hard financial facts.

The most important new features of the 2019 packaging law

Even if the choice of words is somewhat vague, the law (as was previously the case) is not only directed at manufacturers of packaging but also at all first-time distributing companies for goods for private and end users in Germany. This therefore also applies to importers which supply supermarkets, as well as online retailers with a head office abroad. As a result, the packaging law consists of six new features:

  1. Creation of the central “packaging register” body
  2. Obligation to register
  3. Obligation to report data
  4. Higher recovery quotas
  5. New definition of the “packaging that is a mandatory part of the system”
  6. Licence fee advantages for ecological criteria


The registration and data reporting obligation is compulsory for all companies circulating “packaging that is a mandatory part of the system”. Put more simply, this means that only those distributing companies are authorised, which have registered with the packaging register. Any company not registering its detailed reports about the quantities of packaging arisingwill have to pay penalties. The higher recycling quotasare particularly important from the perspective of all those involved. The quota has been increased from 36% to 58.5% for plastics alone. In 2022, this goes up to 63%. This proportion has to be put towards preparing for reprocessing or recycling each year. By comparison: In the paper industry, the quotas are rising from 70% to 85% and subsequently 90%.

This comparison is therefore important because the actual willingness to recycle among customers in the field of paper is considerably higher than for plastics – which is not least to do with the confusion around meeting the relevant disposal tonnage. Therefore, the law also takes account of the ecological problems caused by plastic packaging and plastic in each phase of its production and disposal. Any company continuing with plastic will therefore have to dig deeper and set up new recycling structures. Not only does this cost money, but it also takes resources and requires working hours.

With paper, the quotas are already high anyway, and the relevant structures are working here. However, more resources are now required in this area too. It therefore becomes clear: The best packaging is no packaging. There is then no need for recycling. Natural Branding has had great success in the field of fee incentives for ecological criteria. For all systems have to set up their fee structure in such a way as to favour distributing companies and manufacturers of packaging with particularly high recycling quotas or ecological advantages.

As the overall system is based on solid communality, the inversion of the argument is that all distribution companies of environmentally unfriendly packaging will be forced to pay more, or are at a disadvantage, viewed from a long-term economic and competitive perspective.

Why is Natural Branding the alternative with a promising future?

In the packaging or disposal world, the principle of extended product responsibility applies. Any company bringing into circulation packaging that is a mandatory part of the system must ensure adequate disposal and recovery. The new packaging law therefore affects all levels of the supply chain – and at the top of the customer end are supermarkets. If they forego plastic packaging and unnecessary waste for (organic) products in their fruit and vegetable sections, this reduces the incidence of packaging as far as the final disposer or recycler.

However, in order for this to work for organic fruit and vegetables in the light of the obligation for branding, it requires a method that enables permanent marking without additives and packaging. And this method is known as Natural Branding, which involves laser marking directly on to the peel of fruit and vegetables. If this portion of the packaging mountain decreases, those responsible will not only have less bureaucracy to grapple with, they will also reduce their chargeable share of the disposal system, possibly even falling below specific limit values, and will also generate financial advantages for their entire supply chain.

Therefore, in the future, all distributing companies of packaging-free fruit and vegetables will encounter higher demand from major customers, retail chains, and ultimately the end user. For, with the new packaging law, legislators have created precisely the right incentives for seeking alternatives to difficult, expensive packaging that is awkward to recycle. And the best alternative is simple: no packaging is the best packaging. For not only does it cost nothing, but it also considerably reduces expenditure in the disposal cycle.

A precondition for this is a laser system which creates Natural Branding more efficiently, effectively and sustainably at all levels. EcoMark provides this, and will be pleased to advise you of the various advantages of our branding machines. Talk to us any time.