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Retailers obliged to accept WEEE – depending on the size of their shop floor

  • In Austria, private individuals can hand in their unwanted electrical appliances to municipal collection points free of charge. Moreover, a number of retailers must also accept WEEE: if their shop floor is bigger than 150m² and a consumer buys a new piece of EEE, then they must allow the individual to hand in an item of WEEE equivalent to the new appliance.

  • Old for new: shops exceeding a certain size must accept WEEE free of charge (when their customers purchase a new appliance) and ensure it is sent for recycling.

  • Producers’ obligation to finance collection and recycling

    Producers must provide a guarantee that they will pay for the recovery and treatment of all EEE placed on the market after 12.08.2005 and destined for private households. Depending on the collection and treatment group, they can choose from one of the following three options:

    • to participate in an appropriate collection and recycling scheme
    • to take out an insurance
    • to set up a frozen bank account

    To date, all manufacturers have opted to participate in a collection and recycling scheme.

Banned substances

  • The law stipulates that EEE and luminaires destined for private households as well as electrical light bulbs may not be sold in the country if their contents exceed the following concentrations:

    • more than 0.1 percent (by weight) of lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, poly-brominated biphenyls (PBB) or poly-brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) per homogenous material
    • more than 0.01 percent (by weight) of cadmium per homogenous material

    A homogenous material is defined as a material that cannot be separated into individual materials by mechanical treatment.

  • Priority was put on environmental issues when the ‘EAG-VO’ was passed in Austria which was why regulations were also included in the law regarding hazardous contents

  • Monitoring system

    The Austrian Ministry for Food decreed that the coordination centre, the Elektroaltgeräte Koordinierungsstelle Austria GmbH, was responsible for fulfilling a number of the tasks set out in the Waste Law (AWG 2002) and the ‘EAG-VO’. It has been carrying out these tasks since July 2005. Its primary duties are:

    • coordinating the collection of the materials
    • carrying out PR work
    • ensuring the flat-rate infrastructure costs are paid and
    • sending reports to the Austrian Ministry for Food and the European Commission.

    • The collection of WEEE is coordinated as follows: each local authority has the right to submit a pick-up request twice a year, irrespective of the size or volume of the WEEE it has at its collection points. These pick-up requests are submitted via the coordination centre and are passed on to the system that – at the time the pick-up request is received – has collected the smallest volume of appliances from the category of equipment in question.

  • A special feature of this law

    The ‘EAG-VO’ gives local authorities the right to hand over the WEEE returned to their collection points to any authorised waste management business (under private law). They must then notify the EAK about the volumes they have passed on in this way. There are no restrictions as to when or where they hand over such volumes.

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