The most common items in the collection and processing category of large electrical
appliances (with an edge length of 50 cm or greater) are the following:
- Washing machines,
- electric stoves,
- IT and telecommunications equipment (e.g. PCs),
- lighting fixtures,
- sport and leisure equipment, and
- medical devices.
Recovering raw materials
After hazardous substance removal and disassembly (e.g. removal of the concrete base in washing machines), large electrical appliances are sent off for mechanical processing.
The following table and graph present the approximate quantity of raw materials recovered each year in the processing of large electrical appliances, and the proportion of different specific materials that are recovered.
Materials recovered from large electrical appliances (2017 data)
Hazardous substance removal
Hazardous substances are removed from large electrical appliances at the collection centre, disassembly plant or processing facility.
In this process, all components that contain or could contain hazardous substances must be removed. For example, with traditional household appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, etc., these components may include capacitors and mercury switches. Circuit boards and batteries are removed from all appliances, and oil heaters are emptied. Appliances that contain asbestos (e.g. heaters or older oven models) are separated out and sent to special processing companies that are specifically authorised to work with appliances containing asbestos. This work must be performed by trained professionals who know exactly which hazardous components and substances are present in these appliances, and where they are located.
The hazardous components and substances must be stored and processed separately in order to ensure that no substances are released that could be toxic to human health or the environment. With proper handling at processing facilities designed specifically for hazardous waste, most potential risks to health and the environment can be avoided.