Lost in international packaging submissions? Find your way in France, Germany and Spain

Have you ever asked yourself who is obligated for your company’s exports? The fact is that it could be you.

At this time of year, ecosurety is gearing up to support packaging producers to calculate and submit their annual UK packaging data to the Environment Agency.

Those familiar with data submissions for packaging will know that quite some detail is required to ascertain precise quantities of packaging (tonnes per material) handled by the company in the UK, and how it entered and left the business.

UK companies selling to other European countries

If a UK company exports packaging or packaged goods, and these exports go directly to end users in mainland Europe, then the company could also be obligated under a number of other countries’ packaging waste legislations.

Similarly to the UK, companies obligated under packaging producer legislation in another EU country must also register, report their packaging data and finance packaging waste recycling there. Most companies chose to do this by joining a national packaging compliance scheme. However, many companies are surprised by the vast differences in packaging compliance systems, and how data submission requirements vary from the UK.

To outline all of the EU's packaging compliance systems would far outstrip the scope of one article - so below we compare the packaging compliance approach of three major markets: France, Germany and Spain. 

(It is worth mentioning now that you can also register for our free training webinar on the 17 February at 2pm, which will be looking in detail at packaging compliance in both France and Germany. Make sure you reserve your place now!)

Compliance systems outside of the UK

Unlike the UK, where a company is only obligated once it has a turnover of £2 million and handles 50 tonnes of packaging, very few other countries have a threshold when it comes obligating companies.

Germany, France and Spain apply thresholds only in requirements for audits, type of data submissions or waste management plans – importantly the obligation to register, report and finance waste collections starts at the first gram of packaging put on their national territory.

The Packaging Waste Recovery note system is only used in the UK – other countries will charge a fee per weight of material put on the market. This fee is used to finance packaging waste recycling in the respective country.

Whereas in Germany the packaging compliance scheme market is competitive, with currently 10 approved schemes available for producers to choose from, both France and Spain have just one authorized compliance scheme each for producers of packaging waste.

Compliance options in both countries only exist for certain single material producers (such as EPS, Wood and Glass) or for companies dealing with pharmaceutical or plant protection packaging.

One of the biggest differences that exists however is the way producers are required to collect and submit their packaging data.

Different countries, different rules

Whilst in Germany packaging submissions are, in the main, required monthly, the reporting scope is much less detailed than the UK annual packaging submission. Producers selling to Germany must declare the total weight per packaging material put on the market only, without splitting the information by packaging activity and data tables for supply, imports and exports, which are UK specific data requirements.

On the flipside, although France and Spain only require an annual data submission each, as we do in the UK, both are known to have the most complex packaging data requirements in Europe – and with good reason.

Packaging declarations in France and Spain are based on data of both units and weight per packaging component. So, unlike in the UK and Germany where data is calculated by aggregating all component weights per material, in France and Spain producers must declare each packaging component separately – listing every protective corner, cushion, bag, plastic tray, plastic film or cardboard box  that makes up the total package.

In addition, both declarations must include a description of the component (bag, tray, and box) and the material (cardboard, plastic, wood etc.) by assigning codes specified by the compliance schemes.

France also looks for details on the product (computer, accessories, books etc.) and Spain requires the product weight and name of sub materials for plastic (such as EPS, HDPE).

In France, companies are charged a fee per weight of material put on the market (as they would in Germany and Spain) but also a fee per unit of packaging components – the rate depending on how much these components weigh.

Better packaging design

In an effort to encourage better packaging design, France also applies a Bonus and Malus calculation model to its packaging declaration. By demonstrating that they have reduced the weight or size of their packaging, or by investing in a packaging communication campaign, a company could be eligible for an 8% bonus on their packaging cost.

Likewise a penalty (malus) fee is applied to packaging that disrupts the recycling process, such as glass packaging with ceramic or porcelain lids, or plastic bottles whose main material composition is PET and includes lids or labels made from aluminium or PVC.

Finally, the French packaging compliance scheme will audit its members every five years – for each of the previous five year’s data submissions. In Germany, an annual audit is required if a company exceeds certain material thresholds.

My company may be obligated – where can I get help?

If the information above sounds a bit daunting, you’re not alone! ecosurety has worked with other companies to assess their obligations in Europe and we also offer support on data requirements and audits – no matter how complex.

Contact our team now to book a free consultation on your compliance requirements outside the UK, and don't forget to register for our free training webinar on the 17 February at 2pm, to discover more about packaging compliance in France and Germany!

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Useful links


The UK does not yet have comprehensive EPR systems in place, but that is set to change. Are you ready?


Packaging EPR producer enrolment now live on gov.uk

The online Report Packaging Data portal is now live for large producers to complete enrolment and nominate their compliance scheme by 1 October.


Toolkit launched to help reduce packaging waste in the construction industry

The ZAP project, funded by the Ecosurety Exploration Fund, was launched by the Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASBP) to help reduce the quantity of avoidable packaging plastic waste in construction, much of which is not recycled.


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