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April 23, 2024

Germany | Companies now required to register for levy obligation on single-use plastic products

Germany's Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has announced that a digital platform, referred to as the "DIVID" online register, is now available for companies required to pay a levy into the Single-Use Plastics Fund. The register will be used to implement the mandatory levy on certain single-use plastic products from 2025. Manufacturers are now required to record in the register the necessary data (in particular quantities) for their companies to be compliant. Notably, the legal term "manufacturer" is misleading in that it can apply to all business that take goods into the German economic circuit, including, for example, intra-EU sales, eCommerce distance sales and other business operations. (For more information, see EY Global Tax Alert, Germany to implement Single-Use Plastics levy from 2024, extending scope to certain fireworks from 2027, dated 2 June 2023.)

Which products are affected?

The obligation to register is triggered by products in the following categories:

  • Containers for food intended for immediate consumption
  • Packaging and wrappings made of flexible material containing foodstuffs intended for immediate consumption
  • Beverage containers with a capacity of up to three liters
  • Cups for beverages, including lids
  • Lightweight plastic bags
  • Wet wipes (i.e., moistened cloths for personal hygiene and household use)
  • Balloons, except balloons for industrial or other commercial purposes and applications not supplied to consumers
  • Tobacco products with filters and filters marketed for use in conjunction with tobacco products

Who must register?

Companies must register before they (1) make single-use plastic products in the listed categories available on the market for the first time on a commercial basis in Germany or (2) sell them directly from abroad to private households or other users in Germany by means of distance communication.

Are there deadlines?

Companies that are already active on the German market with their products must sign the DIVID register by the end of calendar year 2024. New market participants must register before entering the market.

However, due to technical problems, registration for companies is only possible in stages. Specifically:

  • As of April 2024, levy-paying companies based in Germany can register.
  • From 1 June 2024, national beneficiaries (e.g., municipalities, waste management authorities) will be able to register.
  • From 1 August 2024, foreign producers/entitled parties will also be able to register.

What are requests for categorization?

By submitting an application for categorization, a company can obtain a legally binding statement from the competent authority (Federal Environment Agency) on register-related legal issues. For example, the UBA will decide, in cases of doubt, whether a:

  • Company is a manufacturer
  • Specific product falls into one of the taxable categories

These classification applications are subject to a fee, based on the complexity of the respective case.

The comparable categorization option under the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging (LUCID Packaging Register) requires a well-prepared categorization application. Without well-founded content and legal preparation, companies find it difficult to achieve positive decisions.

Is the levy in addition to the plastic tax?

The levy on single-use plastic products is payable in 2025 based on data from 2024. This is fixed.

Misunderstandings are currently arising from discussion about the introduction of a plastics tax in Germany — its introduction has been postponed. However, the postponed plastics tax is independent from the introduction of the levy on single-use plastic items.

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Contact Information

For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:

EY Law Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft Steuerberatungsgesellschaft

EY Tax GmbH Steuerberatungsgesellschaft

Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Carolyn Wright, legal editor