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Ban on distribution? Online retailers and packaging law!

This post is also available in: Deutsch


As of Tuesday, there will be a new legal hurdle, for example for online retailers, namely the new packaging law. According to unverified figures, only about 10 of the companies and entrepreneurs who are actually obliged to do so are said to have registered with the responsible foundation Central Office Packaging Register.

However, this can quickly take revenge, because a lack of registration until 31.12.2018 will lead to a sales ban from Tuesday, not only theoretically. Violation of the distribution ban can be punished with severe fines.

The law applies to all packaging filled with goods and supplied by the final consumer on the market. Online retailers are also affected. The principle of extended product responsibility applies. Thus, anyone who circulates filled packaging is responsible for their return and recovery. In order to check, therefore, it is necessary to determine whether sales packaging which “typically accrues to the private end user” (Section 3 no. 8 of the Packaging G) is placed on the market to the end customer. For online retailers, these are typically things like shipping packaging, tape and bulking material.

It’s best to sign up right away

The registration here and the need to register with the Dual System (attention, here a further registration with a partner that suits your own needs is necessary) is therefore strongly recommended. This applies in particular, since under this link, even automated, as an obligation under Section 9 of the Packaging Act, simply by entering the VAT ID or the tax number, it is possible to check whether a company is registered or not.

So I don’t think it’s unlikely that warnings will take advantage of this and try to target online retailers. Of course, there is no case law on this yet. But fines can certainly hurt a lot, especially smaller companies, such as ebay retailers or Amazon sellers. The use of dropshipping is also tricky on eBay and Amazon. Even if in this case the packer/consignor, who is often sitting abroad, is actually responsible, he may – in most cases – have not licensed correctly.

What else do you have to think about?

In addition to registration, dealers also have other work ahead of them, such as ensuring that packaging from the manufacturer (e.g. the sales carton, etc.) is already fully licensed. These declarations should also be documented and archived, because in case of doubt, the trader or “marketer” will eventually have to prove. The second major obligation is to collect data on how much packaging waste is generated for things like mailing bags, etc., because the Packaging Act knows no allowances and no exceptions even for small retailers. However, there are quite dual partners, which cost small traders only a few euros a month, but also for which the scope of the material and the composition must be determined, and the documentation for this must be archived accordingly later.

More details on the law on the further development of the household-related separate recording of waste containing valuables can be found directly in the Federal Law Gazette. A summary can be provided in this FAQ.

If Interested, I will post a few more posts next week on the other commitments.


Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


03322 5078053


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