After a long transition period, supermarkets and discounters are now also obliged to take back old electrical appliances free of charge. The regulation came into force on July 1 – and comes with some exceptions and caveats.
The goal: more recycling
The new obligation implemented an EU regulation that was issued back in 2012. With it, the EU aims to prevent electronic waste and increase the recycling rate. This, in turn, is in the service of economic and ecological sustainability. For private individuals, the new regulation primarily means easier disposal of old electrical equipment: Whereas previously municipal collection points were primarily responsible for accepting them, it is now possible to simply head for the nearest supermarket.
The companies that accept the equipment are not allowed to simply dispose of it afterwards: they are obliged to ensure that the accepted equipment is reused, reused or recycled. The arrangement is thus aimed in a similar direction to the right to repair introduced by the US state of New York, or the environmental bonus for repairing electrical appliances, which the city of Leipzig has introduced on a trial basis.
Not every store is obliged
The take-back obligation does not affect every retail store. Only those companies that sell electrical appliances themselves are covered by the new regulation. Furthermore, a certain minimum size must be present: supermarkets, discounters and drugstores must serve at least a sales area of 800 square meters; stores specializing in electrical appliances, on the other hand, are already obligated to accept free of charge from a sales area of 400 square meters.
Another restriction relates to the size of the electrical appliance to be returned: if the edge length is more than 25 centimeters, the appliance must only be accepted if a new electrical appliance is purchased in return. This purchase obligation does not apply to smaller appliances. Returning a large flat-screen TV is thus likely to be more difficult than returning a toaster.
Retailers see themselves as well prepared
Retailers see themselves as well prepared. Antje Gerstein, managing director of the German Retail Association, said retailers are prepared and “on the home stretch with their preparations.” Aldi, Lidl, Edeka and Rewe have already declared that they will implement the new order in all markets without complications.