Retailers Germany will accept old electrical appliances from July 1

Waste household appliances Image cc Roadgo

For many disposing of old electrical appliances can be a problem but no more in Germany as retailers larger than 800 square metres will be required to accept them from July 1.

According to a report by the German news site RND on June 20, all retailers that sell electrical goods and whose store is larger than 800 square metres will be required by law to accept the return of broken and old electrical appliances.

So no longer will you need to discard the old appliance at a recycling centre that may or may not be that accessible, you will now be able to do so at your local retailer. And because stores like Aldi and Lidl sell appliances from time to time they too will be required to offer the return service.

Up until now stores of more than 400 square metres were obliged to take back the old unit at no cost if you bought a new one from them. But the new law requires retailers to take back all electrical appliances with a length of less than 25 centimetres even if the person does not buy a new one from them, and they must do so free of charge.

That means items like mobile phones, egg cookers and kettles can be discarded at the local store free of charge and without the obligation to buy a new one from them.

For devices that are larger than 25 centimetres, stores are obliged to take back old units that are replaced on a like-for-like basis. So if your TV has stopped working and you replace it with a new one, the store where you buy the new unit will be required by law to take the old one off your hands-free of charge.

What that doesn’t mean is you can take back a TV and buy a kettle.

According to the German Retail Association (HDE): “The retail trade is well prepared and on the home straight with its preparations.”

Antje Gerstein, Managing Director at HDE told RND: “Everyone will start taking back systems on time on July 1st and give customers the opportunity to return their old electronic devices as easily as possible.”

She added that how the dealers arrange the return is up to them with special containers, provided for devices that pose a fire hazard, however, retailers are not required to take contaminated equipment that poses a health and safety risk.

Gerstein has mixed feelings about the requirement: “Basically, retailers are responsible for taking back and disposing of old electronic devices in an environmentally friendly manner,” she says. With the amendment to the law, however, another burden would now be added. “The additional burden on retailers caused by the return of old devices is considerable overall for many retail companies.”

She closed by saying that many retailers only have small storage areas and that could be a problem as well as a fire hazard.

Consumers would have liked the limit on size to have been 50 centimetres according to one consumer advice centre, but overall they are said to be happy with an arrangement that allows them to dispose of goods whilst going about their daily lives.

It is unlikely that many other countries will follow the requirement to accept your old electrical appliances, perhaps they will wait and see what the results are before considering whether this is an option.  


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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