The "Elektrogesetz"

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Contents

   • Objectives
   • Background
   • The "Elektrogesetz" [ElektroG]
   • Implementation
   • Effects
      – on the Consumer
      – on Producers, Importers and Resellers
      – on Public Waste Management Authorities
   • Recovery Procedure
   • WEEE2


Objectives

The new Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act [ElektroG] manages the putting on the market, recovery, and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment in Germany. Producers, Importers, and (under certain circumstances) Resellers are now more than before responsible for the products they put on the market during their complete life span. They have to take back and dispose of the "Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment" (WEEE) at their own charge. Financial guarantees for the event of insolvency, together with the appropriate trusteeship, should ensure that the state doesn't have to pay for the remaining WEEE of a bankrupt producer.

Background

The definition and implementation of the German "Elektrogesetz" law follows the regulation of the return and treatment of WEEE as directed by the European Union in the year 2003. For the first time in the EU, specific requirements were defined via the Directive 2002/96/EC. All member states of the European Union were ordered to transpose these directives into national laws and regulations. In 2012, the European Parliament and Council agreed on a recast of WEEE, in the form of the new Directive 2012/19/EC. The current regulations will be replaced with new ones during a transitional period until 2018. Please find more information on WEEE2 below.

     EU Directive 2002/96/EC (WEEE)

The "Elektrogesetz" [ElektroG]

In Germany, the different WEEE Directive has been implemented in the "Act Governing the Sale, Return and Environmentally Sound Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, Elektrogesetz/ElektroG)". The law passed the German Bundesrat and Bundestag in spring 2005. First parts of it (above all the set-up and designation of a national clearing house) went into force on March 24, 2005. Further parts (regarding the recovery of WEEE) are valid since August 13, 2005. Since beginning of 2007, all parts of the German "Elektrogesetz" are in effect. Until the end of the year 2012 the Elektrogesetz also governed the maximum thresholds of dangerous substances in EEE ("RoHS"). Since 2013, the RoHS2 recast was transposed in the form of an own legislation, the "Elektrostoffverordnung".

The "Elektrogesetz" regulates the following issues:

  • Which equipment is within scope of the law? Which producers, importers and resellers are affected?
  • What has to be considered for the design and production of new electrical and electronic equipment?
  • What are the duties and competences of the national Clearing House ("Stiftung EAR")?
  • How does the registered product have to be labeled?
  • What has to be considered for the collection, return, and recovery of WEEE?
  • Which deadlines does the law provide for the different organizations?
  • Which sanctions arise from violations of the "Elektrogesetz"? Who is controlling and enforcing administrative acts?

     German Federal Ministry for the Environment (ElektroG)

Implementation

The Federal Environmental Agency [Umweltbundesamt] designated the competences and responsibilities of the national Clearing House to the "Stiftung Elektro-Altgeraete Register [EAR]" in Fuerth, Germany. EAR, as a producer representation, combines and carries out all functions and duties needed for the German implementation of the "Elektrogesetz" in the name of the state, i.e.

  • Register producers and their EEE,
  • Examine and certify the financial guarantees for equipment which can also be used by consumers,
  • Coordinate the provision of suitable containers and collection of WEEE,
  • Control and enforce the implementation of the law,
  • Raise fees.
  • Since July 2005, EAR is accepting registrations of producers and their equipment.

     Stiftung EAR (national clearing house)

Effects

The impact on the different parties affected by the "Elektrogesetz" varies:

..on the Consumer

Private consumers may return WEEE covered by the "Elektrogesetz" free of charge to the nearest public collection point. Indirect costs should be avoided by making producers resposible for the pick-up and removal of WEEE. However, the producers will usually calcudate all own costs into the product price.

..on Producers, Importers and Resellers

Producers and importers of electrical and electronic equipment have to cover the major part of the obligations following the German "Elektrogesetz". Not only do they have to consider the ecological design of their products. They also have to register themselves and their equipment at EAR. The producers also have to plan for the recovery, treatment, reuse, or disposal of the WEEE as well as continuously report the results to EAR.

If the equipment to be put on the market can't exclusively be used by business clients [B2B] only, but also by consumers [B2C,] a "guarantee for the event of insolvency", together with a trusteeship, is needed. This financial reserve should ensure that the state doesn't have to pay for the recovery of the remaining WEEE of a bankrupt producer.

All affected producers have to be registered at the Clearing House, before they can sell their products in Germany. Furthermore, all products have to be labeled witha brand mark and (for B2C equipment) with the crossed-out wheelie-bin. Producers are responsible for the recovery and disposal respectively reuse of the equipment they put on the market. They also have to report to the Clearing House on a regular basis. Various measures should ensure that the objectives of the "Elektrogesetz" will be reached. For example, a minimum quota of 4 kg of WEEE per capita should be collected per year in Germany.

Violations of the "Elektrogesetz" can result in fines of up to 100,000 Euro or even end up in a prohibition of sale. In addition, producers are subject to legal complaints by competitors.

..on the Public Waste Management Authorities

The public waste management authorities have to prove suitable collection points for the return of WEEE. Five different collection groups exist:

  1. Large household appliances, automatic dispensers,
  2. Refrigerators and freezers,
  3. IT and telecommunications equipment, consumer equipment,
  4. Gas discharge lamps,
  5. Small household appliances, lighting equipment, electric and electronic tools, toys, sports and leisure equipment, medical products, monitoring and control instruments.

Recovery Procedure

The local collection points report a full container of one of the different collection groups to the Clearing House. Using a specific mathematical algorithm EAR then determines the producer who will be responsible for its collection. The producer has to ensure that the container is immediately picked up by a logistics company as well as recovered and treated by a certified treatment facility afterwards.

The location of the collection point is unknown until EAR instructs the collection. The composition of the WEEE in the container can only be isolated along the appropriate collection group. The exact content and weight depends on the random WEEE of the different producers in the same collection group.

The WEEE2 Recast

The WEEE Directive was recast in 2012. The new WEEE2 Directive (and together with it, the Elektrogesetz) will come into effect step by step until 2018. The main modifications of the new regulation are as follows:

  • Further increase of the collection and recovery rates in the different EU member states
  • Photovoltaic modules will now be covered by WEEE, i.e. they will have to be registered as EEE at the Clearing House
  • By appointing authorized representatives in the countries the registration procedures should become easier
  • The currently 10 product categories will be reduced to only 6 in 2018
  • The "open scope" is introduced: All products which aren't subject to any exception will be under the scope of WEEE. Currently, products have to fit into one of the 10 categories.

 

 
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