Packaging License

Who needs a packaging license in Austria?

Like all EU-countries, Austria has established laws that regulate the recycling processes in the country with the aim to reduce packaging waste and increase recycling of packaging materials. All producers and merchants that put packaged goods on the Austrian market therefore need to contribute financially to the process of collecting and recycling those packaging materials. They pay a yearly fee to organizations that collect the packaging waste from households and other places for them and recycle it properly. Those organizations are called “collection and recycling system” in Austria. This fee is also called packaging license.

The legal basis in Austria is the Packaging Ordinance

In Austria, two laws significantly regulate the handling of packaging and its recycling. The Packaging Ordinance 2014 (VVO) and the Waste Management Act 2002 (AWG). These regulate which companies must take precautions to avoid packaging waste as far as possible and to collect, reuse or recycle unavoidable packaging waste.

Affected businesses according to the law

The law defines so-called “primary obligated parties” who must abide by the Packaging Ordinance. These are all companies that commercially circulate packaging in Austria and put packaged goods on the market. In contrast to the German Packaging Act, the Austrian is more general: It makes no exception as to whether the packaging waste ends up in households (B2C business) or in commercial operations (B2B business). Therefore, the following types of businesses are typically affected:

  • Producers of packaged goods
  • Importers
  • (Online) vendors who sell goods to customers in Austria
  • Sellers on online platforms and marketplaces (eBay, Amazon etc.)
  • Packers/fillers
  • Packaging distributors

What are the obligations of businesses that are affected by the packaging license in Austria?

The duties include licensing of packaging materials and reporting obligations. An important distinction is made between household packaging and commercial packaging. The law treats the two types of packing differently and therefore the duties regarding household packaging and commercial packaging differ slightly in Austria. Below, we provide the official definition for the two packing types and list all rules that businesses need to comply with.

  • Packaging up to and including 1.5 m2/hollow body with a nominal volume of up to and including 5 liters or expanded polystyrene (EPS – e.g. Styrofoam) up to and including 0.15 kg, which accumulates in private households or in comparable places of waste, e.g. restaurants, hotels, hospitals, etc. (§ 13h AWG).
  • Service packaging, e.g. carrier bags, knotted bags and sales packaging made of PPK and corrugated board (§ 3 Z. 7 VVO)
  • Packaging that is not household packaging
  • Transport packaging (§ 3 Z. 4 VVO)
  • Tray foils, pallets as well as strapping and adhesive tapes
  • Packaging that is household packaging but is to be exempted from obligations as commercial packaging due to the quota in the Ver-packungsabgrenzungsV (observe product groups).

Primary obligated parties must fulfill the following obligations. It is possible that an upstream distribution stage assumes these obligations for certain packaging quantities. In this case, this must be verifiable. For example, by a clear note on invoice & delivery documents or in the contract.

  1. Participation in a collection and recycling system (dual system) and licensing of the annual quantities that are put on the Austrian market.
  2. Reporting of the final quantities put into circulation in the previous year by March 15 of the following year. Usually, the commissioned collection and recycling system provides support for those reporting duties. 
  3. Depending on the annual quantity, monthly or quarterly quantity reports may be necessary.

For commercial packaging, participation in a collection and recycling system is not yet mandatory. However, this will change from 1.1.2023. Until then, companies can still implement their own solution without the help of a system and organize collection and recycling of their packaging material on their own.

The duties for commercial packaging include:

  1. Obligation to take back B2B-packaging free of charge (with the exception of deliveries to major accumulation points).
  2. Obligation to return the packaging to the upstream take-back obligor by the end of the following calendar year at the latest. Alternatively, reuse or appropriate recovery on one’s own initiative is possible.
  3. Obligation to keep records and to report the quantities of packaging handed in for suppliers at major collection points (Annex 3 old).
  4. Obligation to record and report commercial packaging placed on the market, broken down by packaging material, by March 31 for the previous calendar year.
  5. Obligation to provide information to subsequent distribution stages (distributors and primary obligated parties)
  6. Recording and reporting obligation of the primary obligated party on packaging delivered to major accumulation points (Annex 3 old).
  7. Information obligation in the form of a legally binding declaration in the case of participation by upstream or downstream distribution stages of the primary obligated party
  8. Reporting obligation for packaging for which there is no participation in a collection and recovery system (Annex 3 old).
  9. Possible complementary licensing to 100% (§ 10 para. 7) is only possible for the last time for the calendar year 2022 (deadline: 31 March 2023).
  10. Annual obligation to report data pursuant to § 13 (3a) by March 15 for the previous calendar year. Unless a flat-rate solution is used.

In 2022, for the last time, the small-scale distributor rule for commercial packaging can be used. A producer can invoke the small-scale distributor status if  his total annual turnover in Austria is below €730,000 and if certain thresholds for commercial packaging quantities are not exceeded (e.g. max 300 kg paper/cardboard/cardboard, max 100 kg plastic per year). The full requirements for the small-scale distributor role can be found here. The small-scale distributor status grants relief from all obligations mentioned above. Companies that invoke this status only have to properly dispose of the packaging at the request of their customers. The small dispenser regulation expires on 31.12.2022! After that date, participation in a collection and recovery system is mandatory for all commercial packaging.

Simple flat rate solution for small businesses

Companies that place only small quantities of packaging on the market in Austria each year can use simple flat-rate solutions and thus fulfill all obligations under the law without much effort. To do this, they conclude a license agreement with a collection system with a flat-rate solution. In return, they receive their EPR number and confirmation from the provider that all their duties will be fulfilled by the collection system. This also includes reporting obligations. The manufacturer/distributor has thus fulfilled all obligations according to the law and does not need to arrange anything further.

Prerequisite for the flat-rate solution: Less than 1.500kg of household packaging and 1.500kg of commercial packaging is put into circulation annually.

Recommendation: cheap and easy all-inclusive packaging license by Reclay from 12€ per year

While the annual flat rate for other collection systems in Austria is usually between €120 and €150, Reclay offers a very favorable flat rate solution starting at €12 per year.

We therefore recommend Reclay to all small manufacturers and (online) retailers who circulate packaging material in Austria. The license from Reclay is completely digital and can be concluded in just 3 minutes via their online store “activate – by Reclay”.

*If a deal is concluded with a provider via a marked partner link, we receive a commission. The license price at the respective provider does not increase and there are no further costs.

Calculator Packaging License Austria

Type of material in kg
Household Packaging
Commercial Packaging

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