Electrical and Electronic Equipment – Information for Private Households

The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) contains a large number of requirements for handling electrical and electronic equipment. The most important ones are summarized here.

1. Separate collection of old devices

Electrical and electronic devices that have become waste are referred to as old devices. Owners of old equipment must dispose of it separately from unsorted municipal waste. In particular, old appliances do not belong in household waste, but in special collection and return systems.


2. Batteries and rechargeable batteries as well as lamps

As a rule, owners of WEEE must separate used batteries and accumulators that are not enclosed in the WEEE, as well as lamps that can be removed from the WEEE without causing damage, from the WEEE before handing them over to a collection point. This does not apply if WEEE is prepared for reuse with the participation of a public waste management authority.


3. Options for the return of old devices

Owners of old appliances from private households can return them free of charge to the collection points of the public waste disposal authorities or to the take-back points set up by manufacturers or distributors as defined by the ElektroG. You can find out about a take-back point near you at: www.take-e-back.de.

Stores with a sales area of at least 400 m² for electrical and electronic equipment and those grocery stores with a total sales area of at least 800 m² that offer electrical and electronic equipment several times a year or on a permanent basis and make it available on the market are obliged to take it back. This also applies to sales using means of distance communication if the storage and shipping areas for electrical and electronic equipment are at least 400 m² or the total storage and shipping areas are at least 800 m². Distributors of distance selling who are obliged to take back electrical and electronic equipment must ensure that the equipment is taken back by providing suitable return facilities at a reasonable distance from the respective end user.

The possibility of returning an old device free of charge exists for distributors who are obliged to take it back, among other things, if a new similar device that essentially fulfills the same functions is delivered to an end user. If a new appliance is delivered to a private household, the similar waste appliance may also be handed over there for collection free of charge; this applies in the case of distribution using means of distance communication to appliances in categories 1, 2 or 4 as defined in Section 2 (1) of the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, namely “heat transmitters”, “display screen equipment” or “large appliances” (the latter with at least one external dimension exceeding 50 centimeters). Final consumers are asked about their intention to return the equipment when they conclude a purchase contract. In addition, there is the possibility of free return at collection points of the distributors, independent of the purchase of a new device, for such old devices that are not larger than 25 centimeters in any external dimension, limited to three old devices per type of device.


4. Data protection notice

Old devices often contain sensitive personal data. This applies in particular to information and telecommunications technology devices such as computers and smartphones. In your own interest, please note that each end user is responsible for deleting the data on the old devices to be disposed of.


5. Meaning of the “crossed-out trash can” symbol

The symbol of a crossed-out trash can regularly depicted on electrical and electronic equipment indicates that the respective device must be collected separately from unsorted municipal waste at the end of its service life.


6. Note on waste prevention

According to the provisions of Directive 2008/98/EU on waste and its implementation in the legislation of the Member States of the European Union, waste prevention measures generally take precedence over waste management measures. In the case of electrical and electronic equipment, waste prevention measures include, in particular, extending their service life by repairing defective equipment and disposing of functioning used equipment instead of sending it for disposal. Further information can be found in the waste prevention program of the federal government with the participation of the states: