BDSV urges flexibility in electronics, appliance collection

German association says recycling rates would improve if more private sector recyclers can accept obsolete items.

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August 11, 2020

The Düsseldorf, Germany-based Bundesvereinigung Deutscher Stahlrecycling und Entsorgungsunternehmen e.V. (BDSV) says collection rates in Germany for electronic scrap and larger appliances could be improved if private sector scrap recyclers would be allowed to “provide significant support.”

The association states, “For a long time, the public has been complaining that the collection rates for electronic scrap could be better in Germany,” and that “valuable raw materials were being lost.”

The BDSV says elected and appointed officials in the nation have “assigned the collection of old appliances from households to the electrical trade and public waste disposal companies.” While this method “should offer citizens a local and appropriate disposal option, it must be stated that the collection quotas -- made even more stringent by EU law -- will not be achieved” in 2020, the group says.

The scrap sector can provide support to meet those quotas, says Andreas Schwenter, president of the BDSV, citing recently released data. “Our operations are optimally set up -- in terms of environmental technology and approval law -- to deal with old electrical equipment,” he comments.

Schwenter continues, “The actual processing of the devices takes place -- as it is already now -- in companies specially approved for initial treatment. It makes little sense to have to send the citizens away when dealing with scrap because the legislature has given a formal assignment to [retailers] and to public waste disposal companies.”

BDSV says “repeated reports” from potential customers indicate that municipal recycling centers are too far away or have unfavorable opening times. Schwenter says many devices could end up being illegally disposed of as a result.

As it currently stands, scrap companies could find themselves in a legal gray area if they accept old devices to support citizens and protect the environment. Schwenter says he, therefore, welcomes the position of the German Ministry of the Environment “to create the possibility of initial treatment” by scrap companies, and that he is “pleased that the longstanding efforts of the BDSV are now obviously being taken into account.”

With scrap sector involvement, the number of collection points - especially for large electrical appliances - could be multiplied as a result, adds the BDSV, and Germany’s chances of meeting its national quota “would be noticeably improved.”