What are the WEEE Directive and the ElektroG about?

Germany’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG)

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act came into force in Germany on 24th March 2005 and governs the sale, return and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment. It transposes the European WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC into national law.

Aims of the ElektroG
The aim of the ElektroG is to prevent waste from electrical equipment in order to protect the environment, or to reduce such waste by reusing and recycling it. The law is supposed to extend the responsibility of manufacturers for the electrical equipment they sell to cover the entire lifecycle of their equipment.

It therefore requires manufacturers, distributors or importers of electronic equipment to contribute to the cost of disposing it (extended producer responsibility or responsibility for taking back and disposing of electrical appliances). Companies are obliged to take back electrical equipment they have put on the market and dispose of it in accordance with specific environmental standards.

Responsibilities of companies
The ElektroG requires manufacturers to…

  • …register electronic products and apply for a WEEE number before market launch.
  • …provide an insolvency-proof guarantee.
  • …report the numbers sold at regular intervals.
  • …ensure that the products are disposed of in an environmentally compatible way.
  • …indicate their registration number on the products.
  • …fulfil their obligation to label products and inform private households.

The ElektroG defines a manufacturer as any natural or legal person who has offices in the respective member state and…

  • …manufactures electrical or electronic equipment in their own name/as their own brand.
  • …commissions the manufacture of electrical or electronic equipment in their own name/as their own brand.
  • …resells electrical or electronic equipment made by other manufacturers in their own name/as their own brand.
  • …brings electrical or electronic equipment to the market from abroad (importer).
  • …sells electrical or electronic equipment directly to users with the help of telecommunications technologies and is based in a different member state or outside the EU.

Revision of the ElektroG: Key changes to the ElektroG

In 2015, the ElektroG was revised and expanded. The basic responsibilities – as listed above – remain in force for companies. The following key amendments were made:

Expansion of the scope
The scope of the ElektroG was expanded, so that the ElektroG now also covers additional electronic equipment:

  • Addition of photovoltaic modules as a type of device
  • Addition of lamps in private households and additional changes in the category of lighting fixtures. An overview of the new classifications of lamps and lighting fixtures may be found here.
  • As of 2018, the law will apply universally to all electrical and electronic equipment, divided into six categories (so-called open scope).

An overview of the current types of equipment may be found here.

Registration of foreign companies via an authorised representative
Companies that sell electronic equipment in Germany and that are not based in Germany must appoint an authorised representative to stiftung ear. The authorised representative represents the company in Germany and ensures that it meets its legal obligations under the ElektroG. Foreign companies that are already registered with stiftung ear under the former ElektroG-1 must re-register via an authorised representative. Their old registration including their WEEE number will be cancelled.

Collection and disposal of end-of-life equipment
The following changes have come into force concerning the collection and disposal of end-of-life equipment:

  • Recycling and reclamation quotas increased by 5 percent
  • Publishing a list of certified initial treatment facilities
  • Changes in the assignment of electronic equipment to waste collection groups. An overview of these changes is available here:
  • Introducing a retail take-back obligation: (Online) retailers with a sales area > 400 m² must take back end-of-life products 1-to-1 (taking back old appliance when people buy a new appliance of the same type) or 0-to-1 (taking back old appliances with longest side < 25 cm, even when people do not purchase a new product). Further information is available here: Bitkom’s FAQ on the obligation of online retailers to take back products, as well as in our News
  • More specific requirements concerning the obligation to label products: Once the registration has been granted, manufacturers are required to display their registration number on the products and on all invoices (§ 6 Para. 3 ElektroG)

Germany’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG): Background

National registry: stiftung ear
The National Register for Waste Electrical Equipment (stiftung ear) was set up on 6th July 2005 by the Federal Environment Agency. stiftung ear performs the necessary functions required of the state in order to implement the ElektroG. It is the clearing house for manufacturers” referred to in the ElektroG and coordinates the provision of containers and the collection of end-of-life devices at municipal collection facilities throughout Germany. In order to do this, it records the electrical equipment that is brought to the market. For this reason, before they start to sell their products, manufacturers are obliged to register here.

According to stiftung ear, registration “ensures that manufacturers meet their obligations with regard to their electrical and electronic products, in particular their obligation to recycle and dispose of them in line with the ElektroG.”

Registration number: WEEE number
Having successfully registered, companies are assigned a registration number by stiftung ear, which is known as the WEEE number. The ElektroG requires every registered company to display its WEEE number on its products and invoices, so that other companies and consumers can tell that the company conforms with the law.

Return of end-of-life electrical equipment by consumers
Private individuals can either take their end-of-life or faulty electronic equipment to municipal collection facilities or leave it with retailers themselves (retailer take-back). Six different containers are provided at these municipal collection facilities, corresponding to different types of end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment – the so-called collection groups.

Pick-up request
Finally, stiftung ear coordinates the disposal of end-of-life electric equipment that ends up at municipal collection facilities. As soon as the containers provided at the municipal collection facilities are full, stiftung ear sends out a so-called pick-up request (link to FAQs) to the registered manufacturers and retailers. These companies are then obliged to pick up the containers and to dispose of their contents professionally. The number of pick-up requests sent to each company depends on the number of appliances sold by that company.

Development of the ElektroG
When the WEEE Directive was revised in 2012, this also led to a renewal of the ElektroG. The current version of the ElektroG came into force on 24th October 2015. Germany wants to increase the proportion of electronic products collected from 45 percent (2016) to 65 percent in 2019.

The following table shows the progress of the implementation of the ElektroG (subject to Change)

15 August 2018 Transition to so-called open scope, using 6 categories
01 June 2017

Changes in the retail take-back obligation:

  • Fines of up to 100,000 € for failure to meet retail take-back obligation

  • Specification of number of electrical devices that sellers and manufacturers must take back from consumers: 5 end-of-use products per type of Equipment

Fines of up to 10,000 € for companies that are obliged to take back equipment and fail to appoint a Waste Management Officer.

24 July 2016 Retail industry obliged to take back equipment and indicate collection points (retail take-back Obligation)
24 April 2016 (Re)registration of companies without offices in Germany via authorised representative
01 February 2016 Reassignment of electrical and electronic equipment to collection groups
24 January 2016 Obligation to register lamps and photovoltaic modules

24 October 2015

ElektroG-2 comes into force
24 March 2005 ElektroG comes into force

 

The European WEEE Directive

The WEEE Directive came into force in the European Union on 13th August 2012, as a result of which EU member states were obliged to transpose the European Directive 2012/19/EC into national law. The aim of the WEEE Directive is to prevent waste from electrical and electronic equipment in order to protect the environment, or to reduce such waste by reusing and recycling it. The revised version of 2012 replaced the previous EU Directive 2002/96/EC. The WEEE Directive requires each EU country to set up a national register. Before they start to sell their products, manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment in the respective countries are obliged to register with the national registers and apply for a WEEE number.

Implementation of the European WEEE Directive in other countries
The WEEE Directive came into force in Europe in 2012 and required EU member states to transpose the European Directive 2012/19/EU into national law. The WEEE Directive requires each EU country to set up a national register – like stiftung ear. Before they start to sell their products, manufacturers in the respective countries are obliged to register with these authorities and apply for a WEEE number.

However the way in which the Directive has been implemented varies from one country to the next. That’s why the process of registering in the various EU countries, Norway and Switzerland differs in each country, meaning that companies have to register separately for each country if they want to sell their electrical equipment there. Often, they also have to join a recognised compliance system in the country, so as to be able to meet their obligations. These compliance systems take care of the return and disposal of end-of-life electrical equipment in the respective country, as well as paying for these.

Additional information and useful links