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Take-back quota for old devices: Collection target for e-waste not met

Status: 25.10.2021 3:44 p.m.

Municipalities and retailers are supposed to collect at least 65 percent of old electrical appliances. But Germany is still a long way from that. Many devices are still being disposed of incorrectly.

According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), Germany clearly falls short of the European collection rate of 65 percent of waste electrical and electronic equipment. The 947,067 tons of used mixers, toasters and other devices collected by municipalities, dealers and manufacturers in 2019 only meant a return rate of 44.3 percent, said a UBA spokesman in Dessau-Roßlau.

The minimum collection target of 65 percent, which has been in force in all EU countries since 2019, has thus been missed by around 443,000 tonnes.

New regulations from July 2022

In order to increase the collection rate, the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) provides for new obligations from 2022 to take back electrical appliances and to better inform consumers, as UBA President Dirk Messner explained.

According to his information, food discounters will also have to take back used electrical appliances from July 1st next year: “This means that old appliances can be disposed of close to the consumer and at the same time as the weekly shopping,” said Messner.

However, he reckons it will take some time before the legal changes are also reflected in the figures. Too many old devices are still being disposed of outside the correct path. Small old devices such as electric toothbrushes or alarm clocks often end up in the residual waste or are disposed of with the packaging waste.

Large old appliances such as washing machines and commercially used electrical appliances are therefore often collected by non-certified scrap yards and scrap collectors.

An increase of 60 percent

Retailers, manufacturers and the municipalities would have to get more involved and further expand their collection and take-back options, for example through more accessible recycling centers or more flexible acceptance times. Messner warned that this is also necessary against the background of the growing number of old devices. 2.9 million tons of new devices in 2019 meant an increase of a good 60 percent compared to 2013.

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