EWKFondsG: New levy on single-use plastic products in Germany

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+++ Update 04 April 2024: Registration on the DIVID platform now possible +++

The Single-Use Plastic Fund Act (EWKFondsG) is a new law that imposes more obligations on manufacturers and importers of single-use plastic products in Germany to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Single-use plastic fund law entered into force

On March 02, 2023, the German Bundestag passed the Single-Use Plastic Fund Act (EWKFondsG), which transposes Article 8(1) to (7) of Directive (EU) 2019/904 (EU Single-Use Plastics Directive) into German law. After the German Bundesrat approved the EWKFondsG on March 31, 2023, the final version of the law was published in the Federal Law Gazette on May 15, 2023.

The EWKFondsG introduces a levy on certain disposable products containing plastic. A fund will be set up into which the manufacturers concerned will have to pay a levy. The German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is responsible for administering the fund. Manufacturers will have to pay the levy for the first time on May 5, 2025, based on the volume of certain single-use plastic products placed on the market in the calendar year 2024.

The law stipulated that affected manufacturers and importers are obliged to register on the German Environment Agency’s (UBA) DIVID digital platform from 1 January 2024 until the end of 2024. According to the UBA, however, the DIVID platform could only be gradually put into operation from 1 April 2024. A static image of the DIVID platform was temporarily available.

Since the beginning of April, domestic manufacturers have been able to register on the DIVID platform. In addition, foreign companies and their authorised representatives can already create accounts. The start date for the registration of manufacturers without a branch in Germany is yet to be announced. DIVID can be accessed at: www.einwegkunststofffonds.de. It is already possible for manufacturing companies in particular to submit applications for classification as manufacturers and single-use plastic products.

More obligations for manufacturers as of 01 January 2024

The Single-Use Plastic Fund is intended to help finance measures to prevent and dispose single-use plastics. Such measures may include the promotion of recycling infrastructure, developing more environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastics, and educating the public about the impact of plastic waste on the environment.

One of the most important obligations, that manufacturers and importers of certain single-use plastic products (food containers, bag and film packaging, beverage containers, beverage cups, lightweight plastic carrier bags, wet wipes, balloons, tobacco products with filters, and fireworks) have, is to reduce the consumption of those same plastics. They need to ensure that their products are more environmentally friendly by relying on reusable alternatives or eliminating single-use plastic products completely.

In the spirit of extended producer responsibility, the new Single-Use Plastic Fund also obliges manufacturers and importers of the product groups mentioned above to contribute to the costs of waste disposal in public spaces such as parks and streets.

Timeline of single-use plastic fund operation

“We welcome the new single-use plastic fund law. However, we are also aware that this new law creates another challenge for producers. Article 8 of the Single-Use Plastic Directive (SUPD) gives European countries enough leeway to implement their own individual laws. Our consultants are very well prepared for the increasing complexity of EPR.”, states Sabrina Goebel, General Manager of RecycleMe.”

Levy rates set by single-use plastic fund ordinance

The concrete amount of the levy rates for manufacturers as well as the payment system to municipalities and other beneficiaries will be determined by the associated Single-Use Plastic Fund Ordinance (EWKFondsV), which was announced on 17 October 2023 and came into force on 1 January 2024. By means of a legally anchored evaluation, an additional review is to be carried out to determine whether the fund should also be extended to other single-use products made of other materials. The amount of the single-use plastic levy to be paid by manufacturers is estimated at up to 434 million euros per year.

The following levy rates in euros per kilogram apply to the single-use plastic levy under Section 12 of the Single-Use Plastic Fund Act:

  • Food containers 0.177
  • Bag and film packaging 0.876
  • Non-packaged beverage containers 0.181
  • Beverage containers with deposit 0.001
  • Beverage cups 1,236
  • Lightweight plastic carrier bags 3.801
  • Wet wipes 0.061
  • Balloons 4.338
  • Tobacco products with filters and filters for tobacco products 8.972

Separate fees for administrative tasks of the Federal Environment Agency

Part of the new administrative tasks of the UBA associated with the EWKFondsG is to be additionally financed by separate fees so that the Single-Use Plastic Fund is not further burdened. For this reason, the Special Fees Ordinance of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV) includes the EWKFondsG in its scope of application and defines ten new fee categories in this context.

Fines for non-compliance with the levy obligations are regulated in accordance with section 26 of the EWKFondsG provisions on fines.

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