Packaging and E-commerce: a growing trend

By Elena Rotzokou, Global EPR Researcher

 

Since July 1, 2022, it is not only companies placing packaging on the German market that need to register with the Central Agency Packaging Register via a special portal; electronic marketplaces that sell to but do not operate a physical facility in Germany are also required to register through the portal and have a producer registration number. An update to Germany’s 2019 Packaging Act, this requirement represents a broader trend nowadays amid the rise of E-commerce.

The E-commerce juggernaut is unstoppable. In 2021, retail E-commerce sales amounted to approximately 5.2 trillion US dollars worldwide. This figure is forecast to grow by 56 per cent in the coming years, reaching about 8.1 trillion dollars by 2026.

Retail is the backbone of many economies, and the transition to online shopping will always start waves we might not notice until years later. If you run an E-commerce business, you’ve likely already felt the impact of the legal baggage and multiplying regulations regarding single-use packaging

But what, precisely, is E-commerce? Simply put, E-commerce is the buying and selling of goods electronically to customers in countries where vendors do not always have a legal entity – a physical presence. It is a convenient way for businesses to expand into new markets and remain competitive without going through the lengthy process of opening licensed physical stores. That said, growth in profits and popularity comes with strict regulations, as E-commerce carries its legal baggage.

E-commerce regulations regarding single-use packaging are commonly a part of greater laws on packaging rather than standalone legal acts. In addition to Germany, companies selling products used by households to customers in France are obligated under the same registration and financial requirements as distributors with a legal entity in the country, according to the 2021 Circular Economy Law.

A significant upcoming change is an update to Sweden’s 2019 producer responsibility for packaging ordinance, which, beginning on January 1, 2023, requires businesses distributing various types of packaging to consumers in Sweden over the Internet to provide or join a collection system for packaging waste in the same way that companies with a physical presence in the country are expected to do.

Companies without a legal entity in Sweden may appoint an individual or business to serve as an authorised representative in the country and handle the obligation.

An example of E-commerce’s expansion in the world of packaging is Denmark’s forthcoming EPR system (an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act launching in 2024), whose draft already lists manufacturers and importers marketing packaged products to customers in Denmark digitally with those having a legal entity there. 

E-commerce is also practiced outside of Europe. Since July 1, 2022, Dubai’s Plastic Bag Charge bill has imposed a fee of 25 fils on online and physical businesses distributing single-use goods transport bags to consumers in the United Arab Emirates.

These are only a few instances where businesses with electronic but not physical markets in certain countries bear strict legal liability.

Staying up to date with rapidly incoming amendments and new packaging laws with an e-commerce component can be tricky for companies without proper expert guidance. The Global EPR team at Ecoveritas has thoroughly researched and kept a record of E-commerce regulations for packaging worldwide.

You can consult with us if you wish to boost your cachet by venturing into the busy world of online marketing. With our ever-expanding Global Packaging EPR Matrix, we can help you understand your obligations and avoid being caught out.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our exclusive EPR Matrix. Please speak to one of our advisors today on +44 (0)1865 502176 or email us at info@ecoveritas.com to find out how we can help you to take the complexity out of global packaging compliance!

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