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Small appliances and devices



Collecting small appliances and devices at municipal collection centres

The most common items in the collection and processing category of small appliances and devices (with an edge length of 50 cm or less) are the following:

  • Small household appliances: Irons, mixers, hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, space heaters, etc.
  • IT & telecommunications devices: PCs, printers, scanners, telephones, mobile phones, fax machines, etc.
  • Radios, stereo equipment, lighting fixtures, tools, sport and leisure equipment, and medical devices.
Small appliances and devices Mass [t] Proportion [%]
Ferrous metals 12.132 51,0
Non-ferrous metals 2.855 12,0
Plastics 8.802 37,0
Total 23.789 100,00

Recovering raw materials

Small appliances and devices consist primarily of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as plastics. The recycling processes for recovering each of these output portions are described in the individual entries.
After the hazardous substances have been removed, small appliances and devices are either disassembled by hand at disassembly plants (and sorted into separate categories like metals or plastic housings right away), or broken down into smaller pieces at processing facilities and then separated into different output categories. Some components that cannot be completely sorted out at disassembly plants are sent along to processing facilities for mechanical processing (cross-flow shredders, smashers).

Hazardous substance removal

Output proportions from processing small appliances and devices

In Austria, small electrical and electronic equipment currently goes through the different steps of hazardous substance removal and further processing at either a disassembly plant or a specialised processing facility.
In this process, all components that contain or could contain hazardous substances must be removed. Capacitors, mercury switches, circuit boards and batteries are removed from all appliances. Appliances that contain asbestos (e.g. heaters or old clothes irons) 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.
At disassembly plants, this is generally done by manually taking the equipment apart and removing the hazardous components and substances. In Austria, this type of work is also commonly done in connection with social projects (e.g. DRZ Vienna).
At processing facilities (e.g. EAR Höpperger in Tyrol, Müller-Guttenbrunn in Amstetten) are separated into their individual components using special machines (e.g. cross-flow shredders at www.mewa-recycling.de or smashers at www.mueller-guttenbrunn.at). The purpose of separating the components carefully is to ensure that the hazardous components (e.g. batteries, capacitors) are not damaged, and can be sorted out manually in a subsequent step.
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.