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Do you make, buy, or sell packaging? In the Netherlands there are rules you must comply with. As a manufacturer or importer of packaging or packed products, you are responsible for managing the packaging until the waste phase. This is called producer responsibility. You must comply with the regulations from the 2014 Packaging Management Decree (Besluit Beheer Verpakkingen).

What is considered packaging?

There are different types of packaging:

  • composite packaging, made of several materials (samengestelde verpakkingen)
  • drink cartons, for instance for beverages, soups, and sauces
  • elements such as touts, labels, and (dosage) caps that are part of the packaging
  • single-use logistics resources (logistieke hulpmiddelen), such as pallets and glass trolleys. You need to register these with the Packaging Waste Fund (Afvalfonds Verpakkingen) only if they are meant for single-use. You can use the Dutch-language PackTool to register the packaging and single-use handling aids
  • takeaway packaging, such as carrier bags, chip trays, and pizza boxes
  • envelopes larger than the standard C5 envelope
  • multiple use packaging, such as returnable glass pots
  • company packaging (bedrijfsverpakkingen). This is packaging used by companies and is meant to be left behind in the company waste
  • special packaging, so-called exotics, such as syringes, pens, lighters, and ink cartridges

You can check if your product is considered packaging in the Packaging Waste Fund’s packaging catalogue. If you bring packaging onto the Dutch market you need to be able to show:

  • the weight of the packaging
  • the materials from which it is made

Recycling and collecting

Manufacturers and importers are responsible for the waste from packaging and packed products that they bring onto the market. These responsibilities also apply to showroom packaging which bears your name and logo. The responsibilities are:

  • You are required to pay for and organise the collection and recycling of packaging.
  • The percentage of materials used for packaging that you must (have) recycle(d), must increase each calendar year.
  • You are required to take preventive measures to:
    • minimise the amount of packaging material
    • facilitate the collecting and recycling of the packaging
    • minimise the amount of hazardous and dangerous substances in the packaging
    • maximise the amount of recycled material used in new packaging
    • give the packed product the longest possible shelf life
    • minimise the amount of litter produced.

Packaging waste management contribution and reporting duty

Do you add 50,000 kilos or more of packaging material to the market every year? Then you must:

  • pay the packaging waste management contribution to the Packaging Waste Fund (Afvalfonds Verpakkingen). You must report the quantity of packaging annually.
  • produce an annual report setting out the results for the previous year. You report this by 31 July at the latest to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT). To do so you complete the 'Report Form Packaging' ('Formulier Verslaglegging Verpakkingen', in Dutch) and send it to the address mentioned in the form.

Takeaway packaging

Takeaway packaging (i.e. last-minute packaging) is provided by shopkeepers to consumers and includes carrier bags, paper bags, chip trays, gift wrap and packing paper. Shopkeepers who provide takeaway packaging bearing their name or logo are subject to the same obligations as apply to producers and importers.

Packaging of food products

The Packaging and Materials (Commodities Act) Decree (Warenwetbesluit verpakking en gebruiksartikelen) establishes rules for safe packaging and materials that come into contact with food. You may only use packaging materials that are mentioned in the appendix to this decree (Bijlage bij Warenwetregeling verpakkingen en gebruiksartikelen, in Dutch). Labels are required on pre-packaged foods. The packaging must show proper quantity information, which may not be misleading. This could be the net quantity, with or without the e-mark.

Ban on single-use plastics

You are not allowed to sell single-use plastic items for which a non-plastic alternative exists.

This applies to among others:

  • plastic food and drink containers made from EPS (expanded polystyrene)
  • oxo-degradable plastics, food storage trays and expanded polystyrene cups

Ban on free plastic carrier bags

You are not allowed to provide your customers with free plastic carrier bags. However, in some cases the ban does not apply, for instance when the bag is 15 microns thick or less and the bag:

  • is meant for protecting food;
  • prevents food waste; or
  • is meant for packing and sealing of tax-free bought fluids, spray cans and gels

For other plastic bags you must charge a fee. An alternative would be to provide your customer with a reusable bag made from sustainable materials (for example paper, fabric and jute).

Deposit on plastic bottles

A deposit is charged for plastic bottles that are used for soft drinks and water. The deposit is €0.25 for bottles with a capacity of 1 litre or more and €0.15 for smaller plastic bottles. Only bottles used for fruit juices without added water and/or sugar, dairy products, and syrups are exempt from this deposit.

At the end of 2022 a deposit of €0.15 (15 cents) on cans for water, soft drinks, beer and other low alcoholic drinks will be introduced.

Extended producer responsibility

Recycling and waste management are priority topics for the EU, and the coming years will see a shift towards extended producer responsibility and recycling of waste. You can find more information on these ambitions on the Rijkswaterstaat Environment website.

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
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