The WEEE Directive and especially its German implementation, the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG), are primarily seen as a risk by sellers and producers of lawyers taking action. However, the numerous free riders are also a real problem for compliant sellers. They do not pay any fees and they do not participate in the recycling of appliances.
The “Elektro-Altgeräte Register” (EAR) foundation is the central body that coordinates the proper recycling of WEEE collected at recycling centres in Germany. This is made possible, among other things, by the many take-e-way customers and VERE members who fulfil their manufacturer responsibility and thus make it possible for our country, which is poor in raw materials, to recover and recycle the valuable secondary raw materials. This answers the question of “what for?” of the EAR bureaucracy.
take-e-way and VERE, the Association for the Take-back and Recycling of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (Verband zur Rücknahme und Verwertung von Elektro- und Elektronik-Altgeräten e.V.), have made numerous efforts over the past 20 years on behalf of their customers and members to persuade consumers to dispose of their appliances properly. This is the only way for the appliances to find their way to the recycling yard so that a circular economy can get going, the linchpin of which in this case is the EAR foundation. Thanks to the media response as the winner of the Signal-Iduna Environment and Health Award of the Hamburg Chamber of Crafts for our red collection box for small electrical appliances and energy-saving light bulbs, take-e-way and VERE were able to take part in the largest German mobile phone collection campaign to date "Disposing of mobile phones cleverly" in Bavaria and subsequently in the Germany-wide "Raw Materials Expedition" of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in order to get young people interested in the careful handling of old appliances.
From this experience, we know how important and challenging it is to work with consumers. With an appropriate budget, it is possible to appeal to many people. However, to actually reach people, that is the big challenge.
From our point of view, the EAR foundation succeeded in achieving a respectable success story as contemplated by the WEEE Directive and the registered sellers and producers on 4 September 2023, when 200 parents and children came together in Berlin to conjure up some 300 kg of old appliances they had brought along themselves into the recycling centre container (not into the residual waste bin) together with the Internet magicians “Siegfried & Joy”, who were successful worldwide on a viral scale.
This was the launch of the EAR foundation's new Plan E campaign “Dispose of your e-waste properly – it’s magic”, financed by the fees of registered companies, which will be played out on various media channels such as TV, online, social media (Instagram, TikTok, Facebook), DOOH & Google Ads from now on. In addition to paid content, the campaign will also provide organic reach on Siegfried & Joy’s social media channels.
VERE/take-e-way representatives personally accompanied the event. The people’s enthusiasm for preserving their future raw materials shows that the efforts of sellers, producers, public authorities, service providers and associations certainly make sense. Accordingly, we will continue to work for the reduction of bureaucratic hurdles and costs for the sellers and producers concerned. "When he took office as Chairman of the EAR Foundation, Alexander Goldberg emphasised that he was committed to working in partnership and communication with all those involved in the disposal of WEEE, and he demonstrated this impressively in Berlin. Where others stick to the idea of enforcing resource conservation with a raised forefinger, the EAR foundation’s approach is a sustainable step in the right direction,” says VERE executive secretary Christoph Brellinger.
take-e-way and the VERE Association support the Plan E campaign of the EAR foundation. Join in! Further information is available at: https://www.stiftung-ear.de/fileadmin/Dokumente/newsletter/ear_INFObrief_202309Spezial.pdf