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Disposing of small appliances and devices

Small appliances and devices

Small devices are a source of valuable raw materials

They may be small (and getting smaller!), but they play a big role as a source of raw materials. Proper collection and recycling of small appliances and devices ensures that these tools, which play such a vital role in our homes, offices and leisure activities, will continue to be available at reasonable prices in the future. Before bringing your old battery-operated devices to the collection centre, please be sure to remove the batteries, since they are recycled separately.

Disposing of small appliances and devices

Small appliances and devices include virtually all portable electrical devices, such as irons, mixers, and coffee machines.

What counts as a “small device”?

Small appliances and devices include virtually all portable electrical devices, such as irons, mixers, coffee machines, electric pepper grinders, shavers, toothbrushes, blood pressure monitors (plug-in/battery), radios, CD players, video recorders and remote controls, as well as tools like drills or handheld circular saws. This category also covers all computer accessories, including keyboards, printers, mice, USB sticks, video game consoles, telephones and headsets – in short, any device for which the longest fixed edge is shorter than 50 cm.

My mixer’s broken – now what?

In Austria, more than 2000 municipal collection centres and recycling yards or rubbish sites are equipped to collect waste electrical and electronic equipment or any size, and to ensure that it is recycled in a safe and eco-friendly way. Anyone can drop off their old or broken equipment there during business hours (see the Collection Centre Finder) – the process is always hassle-free and doesn’t cost a thing.

Are dealers also required to take back my old equipment?

All dealers with a retail sales area larger than 150 m² are required by law to take back used devices at no cost when the consumer purchases a new device of equal value. Of course, this also applies to supermarkets, retail chains, etc. If a dealer with a retail sales area smaller than 150 m² does not take back used devices, it must explicitly inform consumers of this fact with appropriate signage at the shop entrance.

What actually happens to my old electrical and electronic equipment?

Municipal collection centres , manufacturers and dealers have contracts with registered waste collection companies. The waste collection companies deliver the devices to recycling companies, which take care of removing, recycling and disposing of hazardous substances. Small appliances and devices consist primarily of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as plastics. After all hazardous substances have been removed, the devices are either disassembled by hand, or are broken down further or separated into their component parts at processing facilities. Iron is separated out with magnets, while other metals like copper or aluminium are often recovered through the use of a machine called an “eddy current separator”. Modern technology can also be used to recover and sort plastics so that they can then be reused.