This new law has made it obligatory for both shops and online/mail order retailers to set up completely new structures to take back old electrical appliances.
The transitional period granted by the new law regulating the collection, treatment, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of WEEE (ElektroG2) ends on 24 July 2016. From this point onwards, every shop with a sales area greater than 400m² and every online retailer with a storage/dispatch area greater than 400m² in Germany must take back old toasters, smartphones, electric jigsaws and washing machines.
It makes absolutely no difference if electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) only makes up a part of a retailer’s range of products. Nor does it matter how much or how little such sales contribute towards their overall turnover. A food retailer, for example, that also has an electrical and electronic equipment sales area greater than 400m² may also be obliged to take back old appliances.
Retailers must take back small WEEE (< 25cm on their longest side) irrespective of whether the customer purchases a new appliance or not.
Larger waste appliances must only be taken back by retailers if their customers buy a new appliance of the same type.
No matter what the case: once retailers have accepted old appliances, they must ensure that these are collected, transported and recycled or disposed of correctly – and provide proof and relevant documentation of this.
These obligations also apply to online/mail order retailers: according to the new law, they must make it possible for their customers to hand in their old appliances to a facility located within a “reasonable distance”. What they are not permitted to do here is to point them in the direction of the nearest municipal recycling centre – the legislator has decreed that retailers must set up their own collection scheme.