Packaging waste legislation in Denmark

Denmark as one of the EU Member states is bound by the provisions of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. However, the transposition in national legislation took a different turn compared to other countries because Denmark already had a packaging waste management system in place, thanks to which the targets set by the Directive had already been reached in 2001.

Thus, the transposition of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive had little effect on recycling in general. A deposit system runs for beverage packaging, all other packaging household waste streams – for which no separate collection has been organised – fall under the responsibility of municipalities.


Danish legislation on packaging waste in a nutshell

The overall legal framework for waste management is given by the Environmental Protection Act. However specific Statutory Orders transposed the provisions relating to packaging and packaging waste.


There is no producer-responsibility scheme in Denmark. It is the only Member State that has opted for the internalisation of packaging waste management costs rather than setting up an industry-run funding system.


Packaging is not separated from household waste, and the costs for its management are included in budget of local authorities, to the exception of glass.

  • The management of household and commercial packaging waste falls under the responsibility of private operators (recycling) and local authorities (treatment),
  • A deposit-return system operates for one-way beverage container packaging and refillable bottles. 

Denmark has transposed the provisions on essential requirements and heavy metals limits in a Statutory Order of 1997.



Household and commercial packaging waste

Waste legislation is gathered in Statutory Order N° 619 (June 2000) which implements various provisions of a number of EC waste directives, including the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and amends the responsibilities placed on local authorities.

As regard packaging waste, the Order states that the recycling and treatment of packaging waste is the responsibility of private operators (recycling) and local authorities (treatment). Local authorities are required to set up collection schemes for paper and board and for plastics transport packaging from all types of business. It does not mean that municipalities must collect this material themselves, but they must ensure that it is collected.

The expenditure on the packaging system are covered by a tax levied directly from households and collected by the local authorities

  • For beverage containers not subject to the deposit system the tax is charged per unit of packaging, and at a rate that depends on the size of the container and the material it is made of.
  • For packaging for specified chemicals and manufactured consumer products the tax is charged by weight, and varies according to the packaging material used. The tax rate for each packaging material is based on the results of a life-cycle assessment.
  • A tax is also applied to non-reusable paper and plastic carrier bags with handles, single-use tableware and vending cups, and on specified PVC film packaging.

 Deposit-return system for one-way packaging and refillable bottles

The Danish deposit and return system operates within the legal framework established by the Statutory Order on Deposits and Collection etc. of Packaging for Beer and certain Soft Drinks amended in 2007. In September 2008 the Danish Environmental Protection Agency revised it to confirm Dansk Retursystem (DRS) in its exclusive right to operate the system.

The deposit-return system for beverage containers has been in force in Denmark since 1984.

  • Until 2002, this system only covered refillable beverage containers. The aim of this mandatory system was to limit waste by encouraging reuse of containers. 
  • In 2002, the deposit system was extended to non-refillable, reusable and disposable beverage containers (such as metal cans).
  • In 2005, the system was further expanded with the inclusion of “ready-to-drink” beverages such as alcopops, energy drinks and cider products.
  • Since 2008, the system also covers mineral water bottles.

Deposits apply to both one-way packaging and refillable bottles that contain beer, carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks, mineral water, iced tea, ready-to-drink beverages and cider products sold in Denmark. It does not however cover fruit squash, juice, cocoa, wine and spirits.

How does the system work?

Importers and producers must be registered with Dansk Retursystem if they wish to sell drink products that are included in the deposit and return system. Both domestic and external companies have to pay the fees for the system. In 2007 the annual registration fee amounted to 2,000 DKK.

Only the companies who have registered can affix the deposit logo to their beverage packaging. The system comprises three types of deposit[1], with each one refundable on delivery of the packaging to the store or outlet. Each type of one-way packaging is identified by a label indicating to which category the packaging belongs. The cash values of the refunds are laid down by the Danish Ministry of Environment.

On top of the registration fee, for beverage containers sold by the retail/convenience sector, DRS levies a collection and logistic fee to be paid by importer/producer.

The cost on packaging for the consumer is:

  • Cans, glass and plastic bottles under 1 litre                      
  • DKK 1.00
  • Plastic bottles of 0.5 litres        
  • DKK 1.50 
  • Cans, glass and plastic bottles of 1 litre and over 
  • DKK 3.00

    The take back is organised by reverse vending machines. Some shops, typically smaller outlets, do not have machines installed. In these cases, the owners receive empty cans and bottles and repay the deposit themselves if the shops sell cans or plastic bottles made of the same material. Machines also accept labelled packaging even if the shop in which it is located does not itself sell the product.

    Essential requirements and heavy metals

    The internal market provisions of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive were implemented by Statutory Order N° 298 (April 1997). The Order transposes the Directive’s provisions, requiring compliance with the essential requirements. It also set out rules for packaging not to exceed the heavy metal limits of the Directive.


    Danish Environment Protection Agency
    Division of Waste
    Anne Mette Bendsen
    +45 72 54 43 12

    [1] Type A : Cans, glass and plastic bottles under 1 litre; Type B: Plastic bottles of 0.5 litre; Type C: Cans, glass and plastic bottles of 1 litre and over