Since the end of the corona lockdown, more than 20 percent more electronic waste has apparently been disposed of in Germany than in the same period a year earlier. “The extensive reduction of life to the home environment seems to have led to increased clean-up activities overall,” said Bernhard Jehle, chairman of the Federal Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Disposal (bvse) at the German Press Agency. Compared to the same period last year, the amount of old electrical equipment disposed of grew by 20 to 30 percent. Especially where many recycling centers had closed due to corona, there is now a particularly large amount of electronic waste that has probably been stored at home in the meantime. The restart in industry is also likely to result in growing quantities.
No winners, but dangers
The recycling companies, which complained of a doldrums during the lockdown, apparently cannot benefit from the current boom – on the contrary: The logistics are now to be reorganized extremely quickly, for example to continue to be able to quickly collect large electrical appliances. In addition, full warehouses in companies, as they currently occur often, also pose dangers, according to Jehle: lithium batteries installed in mobile phones in particular can easily cause fires.
The trade association therefore demands that cell phones be separated from their batteries as soon as possible when they are accepted. This requirement is currently being violated too often. In addition, device manufacturers would have to inform their customers about the importance of correct disposal. According to a recent UN report, many citizens simply dispose of their old devices in their household waste instead of taking them to the recycling center.
“We are in a vicious cycle,” complained Jehle. There is a lack of demand for metals in the paralyzed industry. At the same time, the offer is very high. “When a high supply meets a weak demand, this in turn leads to falling metal prices and melting margins for the recycling companies.”