Germany’s Packaging Act Comes Into Force (For Real This Time) – What You Need To Know And What The Implications Are Going Forward

Although Germany introduced its packaging act back in 2019, it’s only now about to become an official thing on Etsy, meaning you will have to be registered and paid up by 1st July to be able to ship physical products to Germany. So, as Germany’s Packaging Act comes into force, here’s what you need to know and what the implications are going forward.

Back in February I wrote about Germany’s packaging recycling initiative, but even if you are diligently recycling your incoming packaging, you will still have to pay to send packages to Germany. Here’s a useful video to help you understand the new system:

I get it. Incoming waste from other countries is a big problem with international delivery and it needs to be dealt with. Why should a country have to deal with that for free? But the system is confusing and there is no one size fits all, even for countries who are all in the EU. You many not realise this, but Germany is not the only country to have these laws. Several other EU countries already have them, but they vary in severity and largely aren’t being imposed…YET, so at the moment many small sellers are going under the radar.

Germany’s stance however, is likely to set a precedent, and as we’re all under pressure to do our bit for the planet, fees for packaging are likely to become the norm. Other countries are watching to see what happens when Germany’s new rule comes into play. So far, France, Poland, Greece, Spain, Slovakia and Lithuania all have packaging initiatives, though largely unimposed, where fees start at zero.

I’ve had a look at registering with the German system. I send very few packages to Germany (it averages about 2 a year) and they charge by the kilo for guestimates on packaging. 1 kilo will cost you about 8 Euros for the year. But that’s just Germany. If all those other countries begin enforcing their packaging laws, that’s going to add up pretty quickly for small sellers with occasional EU sales, and may mean you pay for the year and never send anything to that country.

Many small sellers are now considering removing the EU (or at least Germany for now) from their shipping lists which may be the simpler option, as at the moment Etsy groups countries in the EU into one shipping destination, meaning if you want to only remove Germany, you have to remove the whole of the EU and readd in the countries you still want to ship to under the ‘Everywhere else’ category. And if like me you have a lot of shipping categories, that’s a lot of admin.

If you are determined to become a climate friendly business, this may all be a good thing. If you’re not shipping abroad, you’re not adding to the carbon footprint right? But if you’re also trying to make a living and international sales are a part of your earning potential, you have some serious business decisions to make.

How long it will take for everyone else to catch up to Germany’s enforced ruling is unknown. So far, everyone has been dragging their heels on climate initiatives and it may be that most countries have enough to worry about right now with the cost of living, energy costs and the Ukraine war, without having to consider a few jiffy bags coming across the water from Joe Bloggs in London. But this may also be seen as a good way for countries to make money.

This blog update from Ecoassistant in 2021 is a stark warning of things to come, and it would be worth considering your options now, as climate initiatives aren’t just going to affect packaging in the long run. Whilst Germany has a low rate, other countries don’t. Spain will charge you 600 Euros for the year no matter how many packages you send, France – 80 Euros, Poland – 20 Euros. Some countries will have exceptions for small businesses, and some countries only have their registration processes in their native language making things difficult to comply with.

Frankly, it’s a mess. If you’ve ever thought about reshoring your business (wherever you are based), now is the time to put a plan into place.

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