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Proper collection of old devices and batteries helps protect the environment

Collecting old electrical and electronic equipment, whether large or small, is a key first step toward reusing it in a way that protects the environment and conserves resources. Besides the option of returning old devices to the store, local collection centres are the primary point of contact for consumers.

More than 2000 collection centres in Austria

More than 2000 collection centres are available to consumers all across Austria to dispose of their old devices. In different Austrian states, a collection centre may be known as a “Mistplatz” (rubbish site), “Recyclinghof” (recycling yard), or “Abfallzentrum” (waste centre). For consumers, however, there is no difference between them. Dropping off equipment that is old, broken, or simply no longer needed is always free.

Sammlung von Elektroaltgeräten

Old devices are sorted and separated for collection at the collection centres.

Devices are sorted at the collection centres according to the categories defined by law: small appliances and devices, large appliances, display devices, refrigerators and freezers, gas-discharge lamps (energy-saving bulbs) and device batteries. Small appliances and devices  include nearly all portable electrical and electronic devices, and are generally collected together. Large appliances include washing machines and dryers. Televisions, laptops etc. are considered as display devices, and refrigerators and freezers also have their own collection category. This is necessary because these different types of equipment are made with different metals, plastics, etc., and these resources can be more efficiently reused through separate collection.

Whenever possible, devices that are still functional are prepared for reuse right at the collection centre. Broken equipment is picked up by the collection systems registered in Austria, then transported to the appropriate recycling companies and processed further. To find the collection centre closest to you, you can either contact your local/municipal authorities directly or use Elektro-ade’s collection centre finder.

All too often, old electrical and electronic equipment winds up in the wrong places. Besides small appliances and devices, which are unfortunately still often disposed of with other household waste, a significant number of large appliances are handed off to informal collectors. The latter situation is especially bad for the environment, since these illegal collectors generally take these old appliances into neighbouring countries which have different technical standards for recycling and reuse. This also has a negative impact on the Austrian economy — and more importantly, it is illegal.

A unified approach for all of Europe

The legal basis for the collection and reuse of waste electrical and electronic devices is the European Union’s 2003 Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive. Due to the constantly increasing number of electrical and electronic devices, and the rapid pace of technological development in those devices, the WEEE directive established a unified approach to their collection and recycling for all of Europe. The goal is to eliminate the potential risks that can arise when these devices are disposed of with general household waste, while also recovering so-called “secondary raw materials” from the old devices, which are urgently needed for the production of new devices.

Battery collection in Austria is based on the EU directive on batteries and accumulators. The main purpose of this directive is to minimize environmental damage from batteries and accumulators, including used batteries, and thus to contribute to protecting, maintaining and improving the quality of our environment.


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