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    FROM WASTE TO RAW MATERIAL SAFE. COMPLIANT. DISPOSAL.

The German Electrical Equipment Act (ElektroG)- Waste Management Objectives

The ElektroG specifies requirements for product stewardship in accordance with § 23 of the Recycling Act for electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). Its main purpose is the prevention of waste from electrical and electronic equipment. In addition, the aim is to reduce the amount of waste to improve the efficient use of resources. To achieve these objectives, the actors of the ElektroG have to fulfil a number of obligations.

The recording, collection and return of WEEE are regulated by the ElektroG. In addition, this includes the treatment and activities which are performed after the handover of the WEEE to a facility for the neutralising of harmful substances, disassembly, shredding, recycling or preparation for disposal. Other activities that serve the recycling or disposal of waste are also covered by the ElektroG.

Regulations on the treatment and disposal of waste equipment

The initial treatment of WEEE may only be carried out by certified initial treatment facilities. The operator of an initial treatment facility is obliged to have the facility certified annually by an appropriate expert.

In terms of the ElektroG, initial treatment facilities are considered certified if the operation is a specialised waste management company, compliance with the requirements of this Act have been verified and defined in the certificate in accordance with § 56 paragraph 3 of the Recycling Management Act.

WEEE must be subjected to initial treatment before further recycling and disposal measures are taken. Before the initial treatment it has to be assessed whether the WEEE or individual components can be prepared for reuse. This assessment depends on what is technically possible and economically reasonable.

The initial treatment and other treatment activities have to be carried out according to the state of the art (§ 3 paragraph 28 of the Recycling Management Act).

The treatment of WEEE can also be carried out outside Germany or the European Union. The prerequisite for this is the proper export, which is subject to set regulations.

What are the obligations of the disposal companies?

Operators of an initial treatment facility must demonstrate that all records are kept on the weight of the WEEE, the mechanical components, materials and substances when they are brought to the initial treatment or recycling facility or when they leave it again. The operators of the further treatment and recycling facilities provide the operator of the initial treatment facility with the corresponding data for this purpose.

The operator of a initial treatment facility is obliged to pass the data it collects on to public waste management authorities (örE), manufacturers, their agents in the case of authorisation, distributors and the owners responsible for disposal, as far as they need this data for the performance of their duties to determine flow rates.

Operators of an initial treatment facility must demonstrate that all records are kept on the weight of the WEEE, the mechanical components, materials and substances when they are brought to the initial treatment or recycling facility or when they leave it again. The operators of the further treatment and recycling facilities provide the operator of the initial treatment facility with the corresponding data for this purpose.

Sites and facilities for the treatment of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) must meet certain technical requirements. These include scales to weigh the treated WEEE, appropriate storage for disassembled spare parts and appropriate containers for storage of batteries, PCB/PCT containing condensers and other hazardous waste such as radioactive waste.

What penalties exist for non-performance of obligations?

The disposal companies must comply with various requirements for recording and disposal. For example, only electrical and electronic equipment from certain areas of origin may be accepted and treated. In addition, various certification, documentation and reporting obligations must be fulfilled. Infringements can be fined of up to € 10,000.00 (in straightforward cases) or up to € 100.000.00 (in severe cases) per individual case.

Which costs arise?

Disposal companies must be certified as a specialised waste management company in accordance with the Ordinance on Specialised Waste Management Companies (EfbV).

Moreover, specialised waste management companies must be certified as an initial treatment facility in accordance with § 21 ElektroG to treat WEEE. The operators of initial treatment facilities are obliged to have their systems certified by an expert every year.

Costs are incurred for the annual certifications.

Some special features around the ElektroG

Disposal companies may not operate their own collection sites for WEEE from private households. This is only allowed when they are appointed as agents by the public waste management authorities (örE), manufacturers and distributors. If a disposal company accepts waste from opting, the public waste management authorities (örE) may not charge any costs.

WEEE may not be collected or transported as bulk material. Devices with non-removable lithium batteries must be collected in an ADR-compliant container.

Flat screen monitors have to be transported by shatterproof means and require special treatment when they have a built-in backlight containing mercury.

Ionisation smoke detectors contain low-level radioactive sources and may not be treated with optical smoke detectors. They do not fall under the ElektroG and may only be accepted from companies with radiation protection approval.

Night storage heaters may not be collected or transported in collection group (SG) 1 containers. Electrical and electronic equipment must be weighed with a calibrated scale. The weighing receipt must meet the specifications of the ElektroG.

Recycling criteria

The respective required share is calculated in a way that the weight of the WEEE for each category, which is supplied to the recycling plant after proper initial treatment, is divided by the weight of all the separately recorded WEEE from this category.

Category 1 and 10
The WEEE must be treated in such a way that the share of the reutilisation is at least 80 per cent and the share of the recycling at least 75 per cent.

Category 3 and 4
Here, the share of reutilisation must be at least 75 per cent and the share of the recycling must be at least 65 per cent.

Categories 2 and 5 to 9
The share of reutilisation should be at least 50 per cent and the share of the recycling at least 70 per cent. For gas discharge lamps, the share of recycling must be at least 80 per cent.

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