Start of the European week for Waste Reduction
Electrical appliances and batteries play an increasingly important role in day-to-day life. Appropriate disposal is therefore also becoming more and more important. Electrical appliances and batteries are made of different metals that are suitable for recovery. However, improper disposal can also lead to severe environmental pollution. The 2018 European Week for Waste Reduction starts today with the motto "Hazardous Waste Prevention – Time to detox". During this week, Germany will focuses on these topics under the heading "Responsible consumption – proper disposal".
Florian Pronold, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry noted: "Waste electrical appliances are miniature raw materials stocks. For the purpose of high-end recovery, they must be returned instead of being illegally exported or dumped as household waste. Although there is an extensive network of collection points in Germany, many people is not aware of it. At the same time, there are always retailers who refuse to take back used electrical appliances. This is an area where more action is urgently needed."
According to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act and the Batteries Act, it is mandatory for the retail sector to take back used products at the end of their useful life. The EU collection rates of 45 per cent were just barely achieved in both areas recently.
In order to increase collection volumes, the rules for the return of electrical appliances were amended. If retailers now violate the return obligation, the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act makes it possible to implement fines of up to 100,000 euros. The amendment of the Act entered into force in 2017. In 2016, customs control jurisdiction was extended to counter the illegal disposal and export of waste electrical appliances.
An amendment of the Battery Act is currently under way. As part of their product responsibility manufacturers will have to play a more active role in the future and thus contribute to higher collection volumes. The number of batteries in circulation has increased considerably over the past years. In 2017, portable batteries were placed on the market in unprecedented numbers. Compared to 2016, the increase amounted to 5,132 tonnes or 11.3 per cent. Between 2016 and 2017, the collection volumes rose from 20,524 to 21,037 tonnes, which is a 513 tonne increase. A collection logo was introduced last week to help raise consumer awareness of return systems and improve public information about collection points for electrical appliances and batteries, . The logo was designed by two foundations – the national register for waste electric equipment (Elektroaltgeräte-Register, EAR) and the joint return system for waste batteries (Gemeinsames Rücknahmesystem Batterien, GRS). It is currently being promoted as part of a campaign.
About the European Week for Waste Reduction
The motto of this year's European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) from 17 to 25 November is "Hazardous Waste Prevention – Time to detox", which is implemented in Germany under the heading "Responsible consumption – proper disposal".
EWWR is Europe's biggest communication campaign on waste avoidance and reuse. Its focus is on showcasing practical ways out of the "throw-away society". The week is aimed at raising awareness among all Europeans to be more mindful of their consumption of everyday items and resources and to avoid waste where possible. The German campaign receives funding from the Federal Environment Ministry. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) is the competent partner. Since 2014, the German association of local utilities (VKU, Verband kommunaler Unternehmen) has been coordinating the campaign week. The Federal Environment Ministry is the EWWR's official partner.