German packaging legislation
Vivid discussions at conference in Berlin


Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze delivered a keynote at the conference (photo: Martin Hirschmann)
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze delivered a keynote at the conference (photo: Martin Hirschmann)

On 1 January 2019 a new legal regulation comes into force in Germany with the Packaging Act. In addition, the European Circular Economy Packagage provides new impetus. Reason enough that this year's conference on St. Nicholas Day at the Allianz Forum in Berlin focused in particular on the new legal standards, but also on the current state-of-the-art and on best practices in the recycling of recyclable materials from packaging. The event was entitled "Recyclability and use of secondary raw materials in packaging".

Around 200 participants from the entire packaging value chain discussed the subject. The conference took place for the second time at the invitation of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Verpackung + Umwelt e. V. (Packaging + Environment Working Group). (AGVU), the bvse - Bundesverband Sekundärrohstoffe und Entsorgung and the BDE - Bundesverband der Deutschen Entsorgungs-, Wasser- und Rohstoffwirtschaft e. V. under the patronage of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in Berlin.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze gave her keynote speech after the welcoming address by the chairman of the AGVU, Dr Carl Dominik Klepper. In his welcoming address, Dr Klepper had previously described many measures of the 5-point plan recently published by the Minister as sensible and urgently needed. He emphasised: "It is not possible to dispose used packaging correctly without the participation of the citizens. Therefore an extension of the manufacturer responsibility on the costs for cleaning roads and parks would send a wrong signal.”

In her keynote speech, Minister Schulze highlighted the changed discussion surrounding plastic waste and praised the disposal standard in Germany: "We are good separators, good collectors and good recyclers. At the same time, she made it clear that collection, sorting and recycling must be further optimised. The social democrat politician also referred to her 5-point plan and the campaign "No to the throwaway society". Schulze wants to strengthen the use of recycled materials in production and sees public procurement as an "important cornerstone" for the use of recycled materials. "The federal, state and local governments must set an example here," explained Schulze.

The host of the event, BDE managing director Dr Andreas Bruckschen, led through an exciting afternoon, which included a further keynote by Sarah Nelen from the European Commission and a varied programme with impulses and information on the challenges of separating and sorting as well as the use of recyclates in products and packaging. The Schwarz Group, to which the trading company Lidl also belongs, showcased how to reduce the use of plastics in the future and how to make packaging more sustainable. It was explained how the citizens can be won over by a large media campaign for a better separation and collection of wastes and, finally, how a digital watermark on each packaging could revolutionise the sorting processes.

Eric Rehbock, managing director of bvse, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the conference: "I am convinced that more packaging will be recycled in the future. It was therefore a wise decision not to wait any longer for a recycling law, but to correct the course in good time and initiate a packaging law. We are now obliged to make this law a success." Dr Andreas Bruckschen was also pleased: "This conference of associations lives from the will of all actors to cooperate. We will need this willingness and this cohesion so that the new legal regulations can prove themselves in daily practice.”