Due to the EU packaging waste directive, each member state has enforced their own laws that govern the recycling of packaging. The packaging law in Spain in particular comes with special characteristics that differ from those of most other countries. Knowing about these distinctive regulations is just as important for non-Spanish e-commerce sellers that ship products directly to Spanish consumers (b2c e-commerce). In this article we’ll explain what you need to know when selling physical products in Spain.
Special characteristics of the packaging law in Spain
No matter if Spanish company or foreign e-commerce seller: If you sell (packaged) products to consumers in Spain, you have obligations from the Spanish packaging law. This goes for Amazon FBA just like for those who sell on other platforms or operate their own online store. Similar to Germany or France, obligations for packaging recycling arise from the first product sold on the market. However, the packaging law in Spain has some distinctive features that differ from other countries. Here is what you must know about when selling products to Spanish consumers:
The Green Dot in Spain
The well-known Green Dot trademark used to be mandatory on packaging marketed in most European countries. Since the recycling schemes opened for competitors, the Green Dot scheme lost its monopoly and obligations to print the trademark on packaging disappeared. Not in Spain, however. Besides Cyprus, Spain remains as the only country in the EU where the Green Dot symbol is still mandatory on packaging.
Update from February 2023 – The Green Dot is now no longer mandatory in spain as well. You can use it voluntarily with the appropriate licence. This is free of charge and applies to all European Countries that do not have their own green dot system. More information can be found here.
High minimum fees for fulfilling the Spanish packaging law
The Green Dot monopoly in Spain has even more consequences: Compared to other countries, recycling-fees in Spain are very high. Especially SMEs and (foreign) businesses that sell low quantities in Spain can barely afford the Spanish packaging license.
No matter if 1 kilogram or 1 ton of packaging waste per year: the minimum recycling-fee is currently circa 600€ per year.
For comparison: For fulfilling the obligations from the packaging law in France, small businesses pay an annual flat charge of only 80€. For the packaging license in Germany, costs start from as low as 6€ per year.
Special recycling-obligations for glass packaging
Another distinct feature of the Spanish packaging law: There is a separate recycling scheme for glass. If you sell products in glass bottles via e-commerce (packed in a paper box), you need to join to separate recycling schemes to be compliant with the packaging law in Spain. E-commerce sellers of cosmetic products, or shops that sell wine or other beverages are often affected by this specialty.
Spanish packaging law: a guide for e-commerce
If selling to consumers in Spain, you need to join a compliance scheme that handles the recycling of your packaging. Due to the high minimum fees for recycling, compliance is only economically worthwhile for those who sell larger quantities. We recommend joining a Spanish compliance scheme if your businesses is VAT-registered in Spain. It also makes sense if Spain is among your core-markets and you actively advertise towards Spanish consumers. Due to the obligation to mark packaging with the Green Dot, separate packaging for your products in Spain is recommended. Using the Green Dot internationally is very complex and costly.
Are you looking for an easy way to get compliant with the packaging law in Spain or in other countries? We offer the first Europe-wide digital consulting service. On top of an individualized compliance-analysis and easy to follow step-by-step guides, you will also get recommendations for local recycling schemes as well as (English-speaking) contacts in every country.
Picture: MAOIKO / Shutterstock.com
You can also find further information on international packaging laws on our blog: