WEEE Germany: Discounters, food retailers and supermarkets must take back waste appliances

From 1 July 2022 at the latest, consumers will also be able to return waste electrical appliances free of charge to numerous discounters, food retailers and supermarkets in Germany. The statutory amendment closes additional previous loopholes so that online retailers really do offer their customers free collection and disposal of waste electrical appliances every time they purchase new ones.

According to the Federal Environment Ministry, the German Bundestag passed an amendment to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG = German WEEE conversion) on 15 April 2021.

From 1 July 2022 at the latest, consumers will also be able to return waste electrical appliances free of charge to numerous food retailers. For small waste electrical appliances such as mobile phones or torches, this applies irrespective of the purchase of a new product, and for larger waste electrical appliances when a corresponding new item is purchased. The extended take-back obligation for waste electrical appliances will make it easier for consumers to return old appliances. This is intended to increase the collection rate and ensure that more equipment is subjected to high-quality recycling.

About 86 per cent of waste electrical appliances were recycled in 2018 in Germany. However, measured against the volume of electrical appliances placed on the market, only about 43 per cent were actually collected and recycled in the same year. In order to increase this quantity, by means of the amendment to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, the German Federal Government is extending the trade’s take-back obligations to include discounters, supermarkets and other food retailers.

A prerequisite for this is that their shop floor space is larger than 800 square metres and that they themselves offer electrical appliances for sale several times a year. For example, the regular sale of lamps (including LED or energy-saving lamps) is sufficient in this regard. In future, it will also be possible to return waste electrical appliances with an edge length of up to 25 cm (centimetres) in the food retail trade represented nationwide. This rule applies regardless of whether an item is newly purchased, and also to products purchased elsewhere. Waste electrical equipment with an edge length of more than 25 cm can only be returned by food retailers if a comparable product is purchased from them. 

The statutory amendment additionally closes a former loophole, which means that online retailers will also be able to offer their customers free collection and disposal of waste appliances with every purchase of new large electrical appliances (refrigerators, television sets and all appliances with an edge length of more than 50 cm). Previously, such equipment only had to be taken back at a reasonable distance or a logistics fee could be charged for collection at the “place of delivery”. Another new feature is that the customer must actively request the disposal of an old appliance at the time of purchase and must answer yes or no.

The amendment to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act must now be passed by Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat, and is expected to take effect on 1 January 2022. A transitional period of six months will then apply to the trade sector.

Contact for questions

For your questions and participation in the “take-e-back” system at short notice, Wolfgang Obermeyer will be pleased to assist you. Please call +49/40/750687-146 or send an e-mail to logistik@take-e-way.de.

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