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Reusing electrical and electronic equipment

Worldwide, the consumption of goods and the use of raw materials are constantly growing. One unpleasant side effect of these trends is the ever-shortening life cycle of the products we use, which leads in turn to a continued increase in our use of resources, and to an ever-expanding environmental footprint.

Continuing to use a device as long as possible, or reselling it while it still works, is part of the first step in the five-step waste reduction hierarchy: preventing waste. Another way of extending the life cycle is “Preparation for reuse”. In this step, defective devices that have already been disposed of, but are actually still useable, are tested, repaired and resold. This mostly takes place at social economy enterprises that provide disadvantaged people with new job opportunities.

Both of these steps reflect the idea of “reuse”.

Only after these are complete should the remaining three steps come into the picture:

  • Recycling
  • Other processing (e.g. thermal processing and power generation/use of waste heat)
  • Disposal (of non-recyclable waste – in landfills)

In Austria, there are an increasing number of organisations, associations and private events at which trained professionals, generally working on a volunteer basis, help to repair electrical and electronic equipment for free. An impressive number of such repair cafes, repair bars, and the like have already taken root. For more information, visit the Repanet website.

Take advantage of the chance to have your broken equipment repaired by professionals – it pays off more often than you might expect. In some Austrian states, there are repair guides, like the Reparaturnetzwerk (Repair Network) in Vienna, to help you find the best options.

It’s a great way to help conserve resources and protect the environment.

You might also consider buying used appliances and devices instead of new ones, ideally in a “reuse shop” run by a social economy enterprise. But you can often find good used equipment in retail shops as well. Statutory warranty requirements apply in both retail shops and social-economy reuse shops. These warranty requirements normally do not apply to private purchases (e.g. at non-commercial flea markets and private online platforms).

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