Which branch is better civil or electrical and electronic equipment

Supermarkets become collection points: With the electronic scrap to Aldi

Whether old razors or e-toothbrushes: In future, consumers will be able to hand in electronic waste to supermarkets and discounters without a receipt.

In the basement, in the attic, on the side of the road: Many people don't know what to do with their electronic waste Photo: Becker and Bredel / imago

BERLINtaz | The broken razor, the discarded electric toothbrush or the old washing machine: over time, a lot of junk piles up in every household. Some end up in the attic, some in the garbage can. The result: Disposal goes wrong, recycling works too seldom.

In 2018 - the latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office - the collection points collected a total of 853,000 tons of electrical and electronic equipment. That is around 10.3 kilograms per head. That sounds like a lot, but according to the Federal Environment Agency, the collection rate is only 43 percent. But the EU has been demanding more since 2019: 65 percent. That is why consumers should now be able to return their electrical appliances to supermarkets and discounters. No receipt required.

On Thursday evening, the Bundestag decided on the corresponding change in the law. Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) explained: "The more collection points we have, the fewer devices end up in the residual waste bin or are illegally marketed." What does that mean exactly?

This is what the take-back obligation looks like:

In any case, supermarkets and discounters have to take back devices up to an edge length of 25 centimeters, the razor, the flashlight, the smartphone for example, even if they were bought elsewhere. For larger devices, however, the following applies: Customers have to buy a new, comparable device in order to be able to return the old one to the dealer free of charge. For example, this can be a television that the supermarket sells in a special offer.

This has been the case so far:

Anything that is operated with a rechargeable battery, a battery or a power cable has no place in the residual waste, not even in the yellow bin or the yellow sack. Electrical devices have to be disposed of separately, just not all do. In order to save citizens having to go to the recycling center, stores with a sales area for electrical and electronic equipment of at least 400 square meters were obliged to take back old devices as early as 2016. Online retailers with a shipping and storage area of ​​400 square meters also have to do this.

So far, however, many consumers do not seem to know the latter. At least in the future, Internet department stores should always ask customers who buy a new device whether they want to send the old one back free of charge or whether the delivery service should take it with them.

These shops are excluded:

The new regulations do not apply to smaller branches, those with less than 800 square meters. Shops that never sell electrical appliances are also excluded. Most supermarkets, however, always offer electronic devices as promotional goods.

Gaps that the law does not close:

Of course, it would be best if there weren't so much scrap in the first place and if the devices had a longer life, says Bettina Hoffmann, Green Group spokeswoman for environmental policy. The new regulation is therefore not enough for her. For example, it calls for a “doubling of the warranty period from two to four years”. She also pleads for a deposit of 25 euros on smartphones and tablets.

The new regulation, which is supposed to make the return of old electrical appliances easier, has yet to pass the Federal Council. It is scheduled to come into force on January 1, 2022 - with a transition period of six months for dealers.