Draft bill amending the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act: Is there an obligation to label and take back commercially used equipment?

Philipp Reusch

The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) serves to implement the European WEEE Directive 2012/19/EC in Germany. The law regulates the requirements for all electrical and electronic equipment with regard to

  • a recycling concept,
  • registration,
  • disposal-specific markings,
  • collection,
  • take-back and recycling.

On 16 September 2020, the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU) published a draft bill for the amendment of this law.

Does the draft contain changes that are relevant to producers of electrical and electronic equipment?

Yes. The draft includes the following changes:

  • In the future, manufacturers will have to include a take-back concept when registering equipment that is exclusively used for commercial purposes.
  • According to the amended definition, even potential use by private households is now sufficient to classify a device as "from private households".
  • The importation of a device previously made available in Germany is also to be regarded as "placing on the market".
  • Obligation on the part of producers to ensure by design that spent batteries and accumulators can be removed from electrical and electronic equipment without being destroyed.
  • Labelling of all electrical and electronic equipment, not only devices used in private households.
  • Exclusion of the hitherto existing possibility to transfer the responsibility for disposal to commercial end users by agreement (does not apply to the distribution of costs).

Why is the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act being amended?

Waste collection in Germany is falling significantly short of the minimum collection rate for electrical and electronic equipment as defined in the European WEEE Directive. The amount of equipment sent to be prepared for reuse is also stagnating at a low level. The draft law aims to increase the collection rate and the number of appliances prepared for reuse.

Will the aforementioned changes become law?

That has not been decided yet. The draft bill has not yet been coordinated within the Federal Government and hearings are still underway with the parties involved. In addition, further routine legislative steps, which may entail changes to the draft, are still pending.

When are the changes to come into force?

The amendments are scheduled to come into force on 1 January 2022.

[October 2020]