Kettles, mobile phones, toasters: Supermarkets have to accept discarded electrical appliances

In the future, consumers will be able to save themselves the trip to the recycling center, which is often on the outskirts, or to the electronics store in the city center.

Kettles, mobile phones, toasters: Supermarkets have to accept discarded electrical appliances

In the future, consumers will be able to save themselves the trip to the recycling center, which is often on the outskirts, or to the electronics store in the city center. From now on, supermarkets and discounters are obliged to accept discarded electronic devices - but they must not be too big.

From July 1, it will be much easier for consumers in Germany to properly dispose of used electronic devices. Because then supermarkets and discounters will also have to accept discarded kettles, shavers or smartphones - regardless of whether they were bought from them or not. You can then save yourself the trip to the municipal recycling center, which is often located on the outskirts, or to the electronics market in the city center.

Thanks to the new regulation, there will be 25,000 additional return points for old electrical equipment in Germany from Friday, emphasized the Federal Environment Agency. "You can now return old electronic devices when you go shopping for the week," said UBA President Dirk Messner. This makes disposal easier thanks to better accessibility and longer opening hours. "The retail trade is armed and on the home stretch with its preparations. Everyone will start with take-back systems on July 1st and give customers the opportunity to return their old electronic devices as easily as possible," said the Managing Director of the German Retail Association (HDE), who is responsible for sustainability. , Antje Gerstein.

In a survey, the large German grocers also signaled their willingness to start. Germany's largest grocer Edeka promises: "From July 1, 2022, our customers can hand in electrical appliances in our stores." And competitor Rewe even revealed what it should look like in its stores: "You simply report to the cash register and they will then check whether the device is worth taking back." The devices would then be disposed of properly. According to the information, the same applies to Netto and Penny, the discount subsidiaries of the two retail giants.

Aldi also promises a "simple and uncomplicated return of old electrical and electronic equipment" in all markets in Germany, as does Lidl. There, customers should hand in the old devices at the checkout. "This corresponds to the practice learned by the customer to exchange goods or return them under our guarantee scheme," emphasized the company.

The background is a new regulation of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act. From July 1, it will also oblige supermarkets and discounters with a sales area of ​​more than 800 square meters to take back old electrical equipment if they sell electrical and electronic equipment several times a year or permanently.

In order to meet these requirements, electric toothbrushes are already on offer. In concrete terms, retailers will in future have to accept old devices with dimensions of up to 25 centimeters edge length - i.e. some kettles, razors or smartphones - even without buying a new device. However, the obligation to take back is limited to three devices per device type. In the case of larger devices such as computers or televisions, the obligation to take them back only applies if you buy a new device of the same type.

For the waste expert Rolf Buschmann from the Bund Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), the new regulation is a step in the right direction despite such restrictions. "It's an additional simplification for consumers," he says. That is important. Because: "Especially in the case of electrical appliances, the return has so far been really moderate." In fact, according to the Federal Environment Agency, the collection rate of 65 percent required by the EU in Germany was recently clearly missed: just 44.3 percent was achieved.

According to the industry, not much will have changed in 2020 either. "We therefore actually need many more delivery options in retail," says BUND expert Buschmann. Retail, of course, sees things differently. "The additional burden on trade caused by the return of old devices is considerable for many trading companies overall," complained HDE Managing Director Gerstein. In urban locations in particular, there are often only small storage areas anyway. "If these now also have to be used to store old electronic devices, things will get tight in many places."

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