At the start of 2024, milk, mixed milk beverages and all drinkable milk products offered in one-way plastic beverage bottles with a filling volume of 0.1 to 3.0 litres will carry the DPG deposit logo! According to the German Packaging Act (VerpackG), these beverages become subject to the mandatory deposit and thus integrated into the DPG return and deposit system.

Is there a transitional arrangement for the gradual changeover, as in previous years?

With the extension of the deposit obligation, the Packaging Act has stipulated a deadline-related regulation as of 1 January 2024 without a transitional period. For the First Distributors of these beverages, therefore, it should be noted that packaging affected by the extension of the deposit obligation is subject to the system participation obligation in the dual system pursuant to Section 7 (1) of the Packaging Act up to and including 31 December 2023. Until this date, these beverages may not be sold to end consumers with a DPG deposit label.

In order to meet the legal requirements in the best possible way and to enable smooth processes for beverage producers and importers - the so-called First Distributors - at the same time, the mandatory entry into the DPG deposit system is facilitated by a practical preparatory regulation. Since March 2023, early participation in the system has been possible for the companies concerned, and with it the early registration of the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) and labelling with the DPG deposit logo for all affected packaging in the DPG system database. In this way, the correct product labelling, including the trademark-protected DPG deposit logo, can be realised with an appropriate lead time and optimally synchronised with all system partners involved.

According to the responsible authorities - in particular the Federal Cartel Office - products already marked as subject to a deposit can be delivered to retailers and stored before the deadline. The prerequisite is that labelled packaging is only delivered to the end consumer upon 1 January 2024. Therefore, consumers will not actually find the milk drinks concerned with the DPG deposit logo on the shelves until 1 January 2024.

What happens to remaining stocks that do not bear a DPG deposit logo by 1 January 2024?

The deadline-related extension of the mandatory deposit on 1 January 2024 leads to major challenges in practice. After all, how should unmarked remaining stocks that are still in the warehouse after 31 December 2023 be dealt with?
There is consensus among the authorities and system participants: The lack of a legal transitional regulation for the changeover to the mandatory deposit must not lead to food destruction and supply shortages at retailers. Even though the representatives of the enforcement authorities were asked by the DPG whether it would be possible to create a nationwide, uniform, official transitional regulation, it has been communicated to the DPG via the Federal/State Working Group on Waste (LAGA) that "enforcement with a sense of proportion" will take place at the beginning of 2024. This means that the sale of unmarked remaining stocks by the trade will probably be tolerated for a period of time not defined more precisely by the enforcement authorities.

Unfortunately, there are no legally binding statements from the authorities to guide the companies participating in the DPG system, so that despite the DPG's intensive efforts, it comes down to each economic operator concerned having to weigh up for themselves how they will manage the changeover to the mandatory deposit and, above all, what transitional period they consider appropriate for the sale of remaining stocks - always with the residual risk that the enforcement authority responsible for it may have a different opinion.

In its interface function, the DPG will continue to maintain in contact with the authorities and affiliated system participants in order to draw the attention of all parties involved accordingly to the challenges and to raise awareness of them. Because one thing is clear: only with the solidarity of all those involved will a successful expansion of the mandatory deposit on 1 January 2024 be possible.

A further step towards conserving resources

By extending the mandatory deposit, the disposable plastic beverage bottles used for dairy products will also be collected and compacted in the future, thus creating the conditions for feeding these raw materials into a sustainable circular economy. In this way, the single-use deposit system, which is implemented nationwide by DPG Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH and its network of system partners, once again contributes to pure, high-quality recycling and thus to the reuse of valuable raw materials.

A short overview of the deposit obligation you can find here.

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