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Source: NABU – Naturschutzbund DeutschlandWas is so dangerous to electronic scrap? He who takes back old E-devices? And how the Recycling works? We answer the ten most important questions around the topic of Recycling of e-waste.With a few exceptions, all devices that require electricity – whether from the electrical outlet, a battery or some other way for your function to fall under the “electrical and electronic equipment act (ElektroG)”. Since August 2018 products for the electrical, scrap, if they contain built-in electrical or electronic components. This can be furniture, or clothing – for example, the bathroom Cabinet with a fixed built-in lighting or flashing of sneakers.

What is electro-scrap is?

Electronic waste contains valuable resources which can be re-used. In electric devices such as broken Smartphones and washing machines were mass metals (such as copper and iron), ceramics and glass, critical metals, and more and more plastics are included.Problematic pollutants, such as Cadmium, lead or mercury, and additives in plastics such as brominated flame retardants. Pollutants and greenhouse gases from the scrap charge, the environment and the climate. You can also have a negative impact on the health and make a separate collection of waste electrical equipment away from the rest of the household waste is necessary. The separate collection will also be used to recycle the reusable materials it contains.

Why may not be disposed of electrical appliances in the residual waste?

Small electrical appliances such as irons, Smartphone, Fitnessuhr and coffee maker, and small enough so that the consumer*can throw this lightweight and unobtrusive in the residual waste bin. About 140,000 tons of small equipment land, according to extrapolations of household waste analyses incorrectly in the rest of the garbage, and then in the combustion. In small electrical appliances is much more important resources relative to their total weight than in large devices such as washing machines and should be increased and utilized collected.The recycling rate, however, is not focused on these small devices, but it is to put on mass and weight rather than on ecological criteria such as the conservation of rare metals targeted. In the result of collection and subsequent Recycling focus mainly on resources, lighter but mass heavier large pieces of equipment. The Federal government must redress the balance.

What to do with the E-scrap?

Waste electrical and electronic equipment are allowed to land in any case in the trash. The Symbol of the crossed out wheeled bin on the device is used as a reference. Consumers need to stations, and waste electrical and electronic equipment to the value of the substance, in large commercial transactions or in the case of large online retailers give.Unfortunately, the tax in retail stores and online retailers do not smoothly work. Experience shows that this refuse often the acceptance or the equipment is not free and customer-friendly take back, even though they are legally obliged to do so. Recycling centers due to their short opening Hours and the geographical distance easy to reach. The load must not be at the end but at the consumers that, instead, the redemption opportunities for consumers to be friendly. The NABU calls for such fixed stations or Container, in the vicinity of the best are available around the clock. The economically prospering Online retailers should participate in the funding of these stations.

How many devices are collected properly?

In 2017, were collected in Germany, for example, 836.907 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment. With 45,08 percent, the collection rate of 45 per cent was nearly reached. The from 2019, the applicable collection rate of 65 percent will be missed, however, is expected.An average of more than a million tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment are not recognised in Germany per year. This corresponds approximately to the weight of 100 Eiffel towers.

How does the Recycling?

Of the separately collected WEEE an average of about 80 percent of the device are fed to the masses for Recycling, and about ten percent are recycled thermally. The preparation for re-use (e.g. the repair of an Old product) and the elimination of be made, depending on the device type only in the single-digit percentage range.The Recycling includes mechanical, thermal and chemical processes, which allow for the recycling of materials. The current recycling practice, Essentially consists of three things: the pollutants are removed manually, then the materials are crushed in several stages of the machine and the Material is then separated from each other.In addition to pollutants is a distinction to ferrous and non – ferrous metals, plastics and minerals. The ferrous metals are commonly used in the production of steel while non-ferrous metals found in the copper process, where certain metals are more separated from each other can be.

What is difficult or almost impossible to recycle?

The Recycling of old electrical appliances is limited to bulk metals such as iron, steel, copper, aluminum and precious metals that are easily recoverable. Rare earths, tantalum, Gallium, and Indium have global recycling rates below one percent. They occur, for example, in Smartphones, only in small quantities and are complex are installed, which makes Recycling expensive.The older generations of small devices contained toxic flame retardants such as Tetrabromobisphenol hinder high-quality Recycling of plastics. Flame retardants are, for example, in heating household appliances and information and communication technologies.Products with electrical or electronic components – for example, “smart” textiles or furniture since August of 2018, also to the electric scrap. Through the Recycling is considerably more difficult since, in this way, otherwise for E-scrap unusual material compositions in the withdrawal systems. These material compositions require new procedures and treatment methods, and partly a time-consuming manual subsequent separation of the components, for example, of electrical(electronic)device, and bulky waste.

There are already new technologies for Recycling?

Technologies for the recovery are already available. The Recycling of critical metals and plastics in an ecologically and human-rights sense, and as a result of rising raw material technologies requirements necessary for future materials. Instead of loss of material a high quality Recycling must be on the agenda.

How does Germany stand in international comparison?

A look at the collection rates of the EU member States shows that Germany must be better. Other States have, due to consumer-friendly withdrawal options, significantly higher collection volumes. Germany, with a collective amount of 8.6 kg per capita slightly above the EU average, but significantly behind countries such as Sweden, with a bulk quantity of 14 kilograms per capita, or the United Kingdom at 14.7 kilograms per capita. In addition, the 2019 collection rate is missing from 65 percent expected to.

There is a pioneer?

Swiss Model Swiss model, the manufacturer, distributor, and the trade of their extended product responsibility to come, by depositing in the joint SENS Foundation. As a result, the transportation and collection costs of the waste electrical and electronic equipment, as well as controls the collection and treatment of the equipment financed. This type of “financial responsibility” on monetary contributions to a common point is found in a number of EU States. The particular in Switzerland, the “advance recycling fee” (ARF), which is the purchase of a new device in the device price included, and the neutral SENS Foundation will benefit. The vRG is calculated on the base of the device category and the weight of the device and allows for the participation of the manufacturer in the cost of treatment, depending on the type and quantity of the sold devices. The end user has in Switzerland, the possibility of the discarded device in trade, public collection points or directly from the manufacturer free to make. This also applies if the customer buys a new device and is independent of the size of the sales area for electrical and electronic devices. In order to reach a collective amount of 16 kg per inhabitant, compared with almost nine kilograms per capita in Germany.

What Germany and the EU do?

The environmental legal framework have been exacerbated in recent years at both European and at the national level, progressively. This includes institutional, organizational and technical requirements for the placing on the market, return and environmental friendly disposal of electrical(electronic)equipment. Mandatory collection, recovery and recycling rates found, for example, in the European Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the German electrical and electronic law (ElektroG).So far, the measures are not sufficient, however, so that all important components are obtained by a high-quality Recycling and waste equipment by a more efficient collection, any Chance of a good recovery. The European WEEE-Directive and the German electrical and electronic law regulate the Handling of waste electrical equipment and the separation of hazardous materials clearing, so far, however, there are no specific rules and criteria for high quality Recycling.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure need be perfect.

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