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22.12.2023 | KPMG Law Insights

Single-use plastic fund law: New levy to reduce single-use plastic

The Disposable Plastics Fund Act (EWKFondsG) and the Disposable Plastics Fund Ordinance (EWKFondsV) come into force on January 1, 2024. At the heart of the law and the ordinance is a new levy for certain single-use products containing plastic. This affects, for example, tobacco products with plastic filters, drinks containers and to-go food containers.

The regulations are intended to implement the extended producer responsibility under the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive. They supplement existing legal requirements and regulations at national and EU level, such as the ban on single-use plastics, the labeling obligations and the obligation to offer reusable packaging under the Packaging Act, which came into force at the beginning of 2023.

The Single-Use Plastic Fund Act aims to minimize single-use plastic

The new regulations are intended to minimize the use of single-use plastic and create an incentive for manufacturers to switch from the production of single-use plastic products to more sustainable, reusable products. In future, the levy will be used to impose disposal and cleaning costs as well as the costs of awareness-raising measures on manufacturers. The money collected benefits the municipalities. The funds provide financial support for their efforts to keep cities and landscapes clean. Payments are made to eligible municipalities via a points system defined in the Single-Use Plastic Fund Ordinance.

The EWKFondsG and the EWKFondsV apply to these companies and products

The legislator sets up a single-use plastic fund into which the manufacturers of single-use plastic products must pay the levy. The tax applies to the following products, among others: Tobacco products with filters containing plastic, drinks containers and cups and to-go food containers, bag and foil packaging, lightweight carrier bags and balloons and, from 2027, fireworks with parts containing plastic.

According to the Single-Use Plastics Fund Act, a manufacturer is anyone who is established in Germany and makes single-use plastic products available on the German market for the first time as a producer, filler, seller or importer. However, a manufacturer is also anyone who is established abroad and sells single-use plastic products directly to private households or commercial users by means of distance communication.

These tax rates are due

The level of the levy rates is regulated in the Disposable Plastics Fund Ordinance. The levy rates provided for in the ordinance were determined as part of a scientific study by the Federal Environment Agency. Among other things, the actual costs incurred for cleaning waste from single-use plastic products in public spaces were determined. In future, the following levies will be payable in euros per kilogram of products placed on the market:

  1. Food container 0.177
  2. Bags and film packaging 0.876
  3. Non-deposited beverage containers 0.181
  4. beverage containers with deposit 0.001
  5. Beverage cup 1,236
  6. Lightweight plastic carrier bags 3,801
  7. Wet wipes 0.061
  8. Balloons 4,340
  9. Tobacco products with filters and filters for tobacco products 8,972

Time frame for the annual submission

Manufacturers will have to pay the annual single-use plastic levy for the first time from spring 2025 for the calendar year 2024. It is calculated from the quantity of single-use plastic products placed on the market in the previous calendar year multiplied by the aforementioned levy rate specified for the respective product type.

Manufacturers must register

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) manages the Disposable Plastics Fund, including the register for manufacturers and beneficiaries, digitally via the Disposable Plastics Fund platform. Affected companies must register there. The registration of manufacturers and beneficiaries should actually start on January 1, 2024. However, the digital platform Divid set up by the UBA for this purpose will not be launched in stages until April 1, 2024. According to the UBA, the registration of domestic manufacturers and those entitled to claim can therefore only take place from April. From April, it will also be possible for foreign manufacturers and their authorized representatives to create accounts on Divid. The UBA will provide information on the gradual provision of the platform for further user groups and the activation of new functionalities as soon as possible via Divid and on its website. The UBA has also announced that from January 1 to April 1, 2024, it will provide the relevant stakeholders with a static image of Divid on the website www.einwegkunststofffonds.de, which manufacturers in particular can use to submit applications for the classification of manufacturer status and for the classification of single-use plastic products.

According to the UBA, the necessary registration of those entitled to claim is also delayed. However, it should also be ensured here that there is sufficient time for the necessary registration before the first performance report is submitted from January 1, 2025.

Conclusion and outlook

Manufacturers who fall within the scope of the EWKFondsG and have already commenced operations before January 1, 2024 must register by the end of 2024. Immediate registration is only required for manufacturers that start their activities from January 1, 2024. However, as long as registration is not yet possible, there will be no consequences if registration has not yet taken place. The obligation to pay the levy will apply by law from 2024, regardless of whether and when registration takes place. As a result, companies and local authorities affected by the regulations are strongly recommended to consider the changes at an early stage.

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