The German Electrical Equipment Act (ElektroG) and his objectives
The European WEEE directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) came into force on 13 August 2012. The aim is to protect the environment and human health by preventing and reducing waste of electrical and electronic equipment. Promoting reuse through the extraction of secondary raw materials contributes to resource conservation.
What are the obligations of the public waste management authorities?
As part of their duties the public waste management authorities (örE) must set up collection sites where WEEE from private households can be dropped off free of charge. WEEE from private households, which are supplied by traders or distributors, have to be dropped off at the public waste management authorities (örE) where the trader or distributor has his establishment.
The WEEE must be provided free of charge for collection in their appropriate containers by the manufacturer or his agent in accordance with § 15 ElektroG. The public waste management authorities (örE) notifies the stiftung ear of the containers waiting for collection.
Moreover, the public waste management authorities (örE) have information obligations towards private households. These include publicising the available collection sites.
What does opting include?
The amendments to the ElektroG continue to offer the possibility of the self-marketing of electrical and electronic equipment by the Public waste management authorities (örE), so-called opting. The following conditions must be taken into account:
- Marketing of electrical and electronic equipment only to certified initial treatment companies.
- Extending the minimum period of opting to two years.
- Extending the notification requirement to six months (previously 3 months).
- Monthly instead of annual quantity reports
In case of opting by a collection group, the public waste management authorities (örE) may not incur costs for the marketing of the WEEE to an initial treatment company.
Recomposition of collection groups – to what extent does it affect the public waste management authorities?
From 1 February 2016, collection groups (SG) are composed as follows:
SG 1: Large household appliances, automatic dispensers
Night storage heater materials containing asbestos or hexavalent chromium have to be collected separately in a separate container. When a collection quantity of at least 5 m³ has been reached, the public waste management authorities (örE) can report the night storage heaters for collection.
If SG1 is opted, both large appliances and night storage heaters must be opted. Night storage heaters may not be collected a roll-on/roll-off container. If a night storage heater is not properly wrapped in film, the municipality may refuse to accept it or when accepting it, package it and charge a fee for the packaging.
Other SG 1 equipment have to be collected in a closed roll-on/roll-off container. The minimum delivery quantity is 30 m³.
SG 2: Refrigerators, oil-filled radiators
SG2 equipment must be collected in closed roll-on/roll-off containers. Here, the minimum delivery quantity is 30 m³.
SG 3: Screens, monitors and TV sets
The creation of a separate collection group for display devices comprising both CRT screen and flat-screen monitors and TVs.
The manual stacking of devices is specifically prescribed in SG 3 to avoid glass breakage or leakage of mercury.
SG 4: Lamps
Both gas discharge lamps and other lamps/bulbs (such as LED retrofits) fall under this collection group. This solves the problem of incorrect drop-off between gas discharge lamps and other lamps. Lamp frames ("lights") fall under collection group 5.
The post pallets and pallet cages used for collection may be used only in conjunction with the inlay provided by the Lightcycle return system. Closed boxes or cardboard packaging can be requested over the stiftung ear portal as an alternative to post pallets. The minimum delivery quantity for lamps is 3 m³.
SG 5: Small household appliances, IT and telecommunications equipment, equipment for consumer electronics, lamps and other lighting fixtures as well as appliances for spreading or controlling light, electrical and electronic tools
The amendment for the first time includes lights from private households under the ElektroG and are categorised in the collection group.
Battery-powered WEEE have to be collected separated from other waste electrical and electronic equipment of collection group 5 in a their own ADR-compliant container. The public waste management authorities (örE) can be notified when a collection quantity of at least 5 m³ has been reached. The creation of a separate sub-collection group for "battery-powered devices" in this case focuses on the issue of WEEE with lithium batteries. By separating them, ADR-compliant transportation shall be ensured without the entire collection group 5 having to be transported in an ADR-compliant manner. The containers have to be labelled according to special provision 636 in accordance with ADR. Within the EAR collection coordination regime the containers are transported as bulk material with a separate pick-up code. WEEE without lithium batteries are collected at the municipal collection sites in roll-on/roll-off container with a minimum delivery quantity of 30 m³.
WEEE with removable batteries/rechargeable batteries are collected in a roll-on/roll-off container after being removed. The removed batteries/rechargeable batteries have to be sorted by weight category (< 500 g / > = 500 g) in different barrels, via the GRS return system, for example.
SG 6: Photovoltaic modules
Photovoltaic systems now have their own collection group. The stiftung ear can be notified when a collection quantity of at least 2.5 m³ has been reached.
According to the stiftung ear a 0,75 m³ Euro pallet, a 1 m³ plastic pallet box and a 1 m³ PV Big Bag can be used for collection.
Note: The collection of thin-film modules has proven to be very difficult in practice. Therefore, the closed plastic pallet box is recommended for collection. By design there are often broken glass, making the wearing of appropriate safety clothing mandatory.
Important: Second modification of the collection groups from August 2018
Here the collection groups are again changed fundamentally and will be given the following structure:
SG 1: Heat exchangers
SG 2: Screens, monitors and equipment containing screens with a surface larger than 100 cm²
SG 3: Lamps
SG 4: Large appliances
SG 5: Small appliances and small devices from information and telecommunications technology
SG 6: Photovoltaic modules
Dealing with night storage heaters containing asbestos
Collection group 1 includes night storage heaters containing asbestos or hexavalent chromium. Due to the statutory provisions of the ElektroG, the public waste management authorities (örE) are obliged to accept night storage heaters from private households free of charge at the municipal collection sites and provide and report them for collection. By their nature they require special handling, for which the conditions of the Technical Rules for Hazardous Substances (TRGS 519) must to be created.
Asbestos is subject to the hazardous goods legislation and classified under UN No. 2212 and 2590. Only when the special provision 168 is guaranteed, does asbestos not fall under the European Convention on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR).
The special provision states that asbestos does not fall under the ADR when it is in embedded in an artificial binder (such as cement or plastic) or attached to it in a way that hazardous quantities of respirable asbestos fibres cannot escape during transportation. Products that contain asbestos and do not match this specification are not subject to ADR if they are packaged in such a way that hazardous quantities of respirable asbestos fibres cannot escape during transportation.
Which costs arise?
In the case of opting, the public waste management authorities must pay a fee to the stiftung ear per collection group and notice for the acceptance and inspection of the opting notice in accordance with the Fee Regulation for the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act. A fee according to the Fees Regulation is also charged for messages and notices as defined in § 38 paragraph 2 clause 1 number 1 to 5 ElektroG outside of the provided electronic data processing system.
New definition of the term initial treatment
The new definition of the term initial treatment has an impact on the certification requirements for recycling yards that perform specific activities. It designates the initial treatment of WEEE, in which the WEEE is prepared for reuse or harmful substances neutralised (...), including preparatory actions related thereto. As evidenced by the legislative intent, preparatory actions relate to sorting, cutting and storage. These actions can therefore also be seen as initial treatment subject to certification (!). Performing initial treatment without proper certification represents an administrative offence.
Legal provisions on the recycling yard
New regulations on the following points for the treatment of WEEE according to the ElektroG apply to the public waste management authorities (örE) in practical operations:
- Battery-operated devices
- Asbestos-containing night storage heaters
- Filling of containers
- Prohibition of subsequent removal of WEEE from containers