Return your old electrical appliances to the supermarket – effective July 1, 2022.

Berlin. If you want to donate your old cell phone or broken toaster, you can do so in the future at the supermarket. Grocery stores and discounters with a sales area of ​​800 m2 are required to accept old electrical appliances from July 1. Prerequisite: you must sell electrical equipment either permanently or at least several times a year. Since Aldi, Rewe, Edeka and Co. they sometimes offer products such as kettles and vacuum cleaners, and this is the case for many large supermarket chains.

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The size of the device plays an important role in this. The edge length of 25 centimeters is decisive. If the appliance is smaller – such as a cell phone, razor or egg cooker – the supermarket must accept it for free. This also applies to whether the customer buys a new electrical appliance at the same time.

When it comes to electronics, size matters

This is new: Until now, stores with a sales area of ​​over 400 square meters – such as DIY stores – had to pick up the old appliance free of charge only when purchasing new electrical equipment. For devices larger than 25 centimeters, this rule now also applies to the new regulation. It is important that only products of the same type can be “swapped”: Anyone who buys the TV can return the TV free of charge, but not the coffee machine.

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The background is the amendment to the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, which targets electrical equipment distributors. It has actually been in force since the beginning of the year, but retailers still had a transitional period until July 1. Now the service is mandatory.

The trade association sees armed stores

The German Retail Trade Association (HDE) sees supermarkets and discounters in a good position: “Retail is well prepared and prepared at home,” says Antje Gerstein, HDE Managing Director. “Everyone will start picking up the systems on July 1 and giving customers the option to return their old electronics as easily as possible,” she told the German editorial network (RND).

Old appliances can be taken to many recycling centers. In future, under certain conditions, electrical items may also be sold in supermarkets.

They were free to decide how dealers would arrange the return. So there are collective boxes or the possibility of returning devices to information centers. Additionally, there are containers for devices posing a fire hazard. “Contaminated equipment, which poses a health and safety risk, must not be accepted,” adds Gerstein.

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Trade association: ‘Extra Burden’ for Supermarkets

Her verdict on this initiative is mixed: “In general, retailers are responsible for collecting and disposing of old electronic devices in an environmentally friendly manner,” she says. However, with the amendment of the law, another burden would be added. “The additional burden on retailers from returning old equipment is overall significant for many retailers,” notes HDE’s managing director.

Especially in cities, many of them only have small storage spaces. If they are now also used to store old electronic devices, “it gets cramped in many places.” Therefore, the trade association welcomes the principle that larger appliances can only be returned if you purchase a new electrical appliance with an identical design.

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Consumer center: 200 million mobile phones in drawers

This is what consumer advocates see critically. “We would have preferred 50 centimeters,” says Friederike Farsen of the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advisory center. Overall, however, he welcomes this step: after all, discounters would also sell large amounts of electrical goods. So it’s good to involve them too. He sees a clear benefit for consumers: instead of going to a hardware store or other collection point, a broken cell phone can be thrown directly into the supermarket. The environmental aspect also plays an important role: more than 200 million old cell phones end up in German drawers, according to the Consumer Advisory Center.

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Delivery and closing issues

The “Russian Aldi”. Simple falling

Friederike Farsen expects supermarkets to be ready on July 1. “It’s been half a year.” It also means creating guidance so customers don’t have to search or ask for a long time. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the store by July 1, she advises you to ask first. If the supermarket refuses completely, a fine could even be imposed at some point, he explains.

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