SustainabilityRoom for improvement in collection rate of old electrical appliances

Today, the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) released current figures regarding the collection of used electrical appliances in Germany for the year 2019. According to the data, the collection rate of 947.067 tons of used electrical appliances collected by municipalities, retailers and manufacturers was at 44,3 percent – well below the minimum collection target of 65 percent that has been in effect in all EU countries since 2019.

To increase the volume of collected old appliances, the amended Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) obliges supermarkets and discounters (with a sales area of at least 800 square meters) as of 2022, among other things, to take back old appliances free of charge if they offer new appliances several times a year or permanently. In addition, electrical appliance retailers are to provide consumers with more information about take-back obligations and return options.

These are further details:

  • With a waste collection rate for electrical devices of 44,3 percent, Germany fell short of the 65 percent collection target applicable throughout the EU since 2019 by 443.000 tons.
  • At the same time, the volume of new electrical appliances increased by around 60 percentage points in 2019 compared to 2013. This is due to shorter product life cycles, a growing number of private households, more appliances per household, a higher average weight per appliance, and generally larger appliances such as refrigerators or televisions.
  • This increase is also partly due to the expansion of the ElektroG's scope of application to include long-life photovoltaic modules, products with a fixed electrical function (e.g., "blinking" clothing, electric massage, or gaming chairs) and passive devices such as cables, sockets or light switches.
  • According to research, many citizens are not sufficiently informed about disposal options and obligations. For example, many old appliances are not disposed of properly: Electric toothbrushes or alarm clocks often end up in residual waste, and washing machines are often collected from uncertified scrap yards.

Dirk Messner, UBA President, said: "We need to make the players - from manufacturers to retailers to local authorities - more responsible than ever before. On the way to a genuine circular economy, significantly more old appliances must be collected, more old appliances must be prepared for reuse, pollutants must be safely removed from the material cycle, and raw materials must be recovered in large quantities. To strengthen the use of recyclates, pricing of primary raw materials is also conceivable, for example."

Source: UBA

Further informatione