Who is responsible? "Manufacturer Definition"

The so-called "Manufacturer Definition" is defined in §13a AWG (Austrian Waste Management Act). In the context of this law, manufacturer includes not only producers but also importers and the owners of brandnames.

Companies who have their headquarters abroad are also subject to obligations. More details are available here.

In addition, if you sell equipment from Austria in other EU Member States, you are also subject to the terms of the Austrian law. In this case, you must also obey the EU Member States' valid regulations with regard to dealing with waste electrical equipment and batteries.

What are the legal obligations for companies based outside Austria?

Foreign manufacturers (which includes retailers in the eyes of the law) must participate in a recognised system in Austria for their household electrical equipment when the equipment is sold through "distance selling", including mail-order or online retailers, and delivered to consumers in Austria.

Such foreign mail-order or online retailers must also designate an "Authorised Representative" in Austria.

ERA and the ARA Service Group take over both of these things for you - a recognised collection system and an Authorised Representative - contact us and we will be pleased to answer any questions you may have:

Tel. +43 1 595 2636 555

Hotline: +43 1 595 2636 555

Authorised Representative

Distance sellers

What are the legal obligations?

This depends on whether you sell your equipment on the consumer market or if it is equipment sold solely for commercial purposes. More details of the differences between these are given below. 

An important note on this point: it depends on the properties of the equipment. Equipment which can be used in the household is always classified as household equipment. A computer monitor is still household equipment even if is located in an office.

For household equipment, there is an obligation to participate in a Compliance scheme:

You must participate in a collection and recycling system such as ERA provides. The system takes over most of the other obligations such as registration in Austria's National Environmental Register. You must regularly report the actual quantities you have put on the market to the system and pay the appropriate charges.

For "equipment solely for commercial purposes" there is no obligation to participate in a Compliance scheme:

You can, however, participate voluntarily. If you don't participate in a system, you have to take back waste equipment free of charge at the request of customers (you can exclude this in sales contracts).  However, the obligation to officially register as a manufacturer also applies in this case.  

You can find a list of the regulations which apply to waste electrical equipment here.

What counts as electrical equipment?

"Electrical and electronic equipment" is understood to include every piece of equipment which requires electric current or electromagnetic fields for its proper operation.

"Electrical and electronic equipment" is , however, also equipment used for the generation, transmission and measurement of such current and fields which is designed for operation with an AC voltage of up to 1000 Volts or a DC voltage of up to 1500 Volts.

Equipment which is designed to operate with an AC voltage of over 1000 Volts (or a DC voltage of over 1500 Volts) is not subject to this regulation.

Due to there being several borderline cases, there is an Electrical Equipment List (only German version available) in Austria. There is a lot of equipment on this list where it is not immediately clear if it counts as electrical equipment or not.

What does not count as electrical equipment according to the EAG ordinance?

1. Equipment which was solely designed to be a part of another type of equipment, is built-in to it, and can only perform its function as part of the other equipment.

2. Equipment which is to be deployed in space.

3. Large, stationary industrial tools: this is a potentially large array of several machines, appliances and components which were designed for a specific application that they fulfil together, which are installed and dismantled by technical experts in a specific long-term location or which are installed and maintained by technical experts in an industrial plant or a research and development facility. 

4. Stationary large-scale plants: excluding equipment which was not designed as a special part of the plant and built-in to it: a stationary large-scale plant is a complex combination of different types of equipment and additional fittings as required which are assembled and installed by technical experts and operating at a fixed, long-term location, in particular when part of a building or structure,  which are dismantled by technical experts and can only be replaced by the identical specially constructed equipment.

5. Means of transportation for people or the carriage of goods with the exception of two-wheel vehicles which are not officially registered.

6. Mobile machines, which are not specifically for road traffic use and are solely available for 
    professional use.

7. Equipment which is specially designed solely for the purpose of  research and development  and is only used at an internal company level.

8. Medical equipment including accessories when it is expected that they will become contaminated before the end of their life-cycle and active implantable medical devices.

9. In-Vitro Diagnostics including accessories when it is expected that they will become contaminated before the end of their life-cycle.

10. Electric lightbulbs.

11. Equipment, weapons, ammunition and war material which are specifically used for military purposes.

What is the Electrical Equipment List?

The Austrian Ministry for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management has created a list in conjunction with numerous interested parties which should help with the classification of electrical and electronic equipment.

In the classification there is a fine line between the WEEE and the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directives. Hence, there are two lists.

If you have any questions about your products, and you can't find answers in the lists, you are welcome to contact us at any time and our experts will be pleased to help you.

Tel: +43 1 595 2636 555

You can access the current lists under the following links (only German version available):

EAG Electrical Equipment List - WEEE (Jan 2017)

EAG Electrical Equipment List - RoHS (Jan 2017)

What does the labelling obligation involve?

Manufacturers must always label electrical and electronic equipment with a clearly visible and readable crossed-out wheelie bin sign. The only exceptions to using this sign for electrical and electronic equipment are legal provisions or that the size or function of the product makes it impossible to comply. In these cases, the symbol must be affixed to the packaging, the instructions or the guarantee. 

The CE label

EU guidelines and ordinances stipulate that various products must conform to essential requirements for safety, health, electromagnetic tolerance, etc. As a consequence, manufacturers, importers and retailers must conform to a variety of obligations. The CE label is a part of this. This label is easily visible, readable and always affixed to the finished electrical or electronic equipment or visible on its data shield. When this is not possible, it is affixed to the packaging or accompanying information. in any case, it must be somehow affixed to electrical and electronic equipment before it is put on the market. 

If you have any questions, please contact us:

Tel: +43 1 595 2636 555

Hotline: +43.1.595 26 36-555

How is the volume of product put into the market determined?

As a rule, it is the weight of electrical equipment put into the market which is reported. In cases where the number of units must be reported, the system converts the number of units into kilograms using statistical data.

The weight is taken to be the gross weight including all of the accessories which also have an electrical function (e.g. chargers).

When equipment is delivered including batteries or accumulators, the weight of these does not count as part of the equipment as from 1st January 2018. However, the weight of the batteries or accumulators must be reported as  Portable Batteries.

Do the ERA fees have to be shown on customer receipts?

No - quite the opposite - in Austria, manufacturers and retailers are not allowed to show the costs of collection and treatment of electrical and electronic equipment from private households to the consumer.

What counts as accessories and must they be taken into account for reporting?

- Packaging
   No, it does not count as part of the weight of the equipment.

- Accompanying Documents (instructions, guarantee certificate, etc.)
   No, they do not count as part of the weight of the equipment.

- Batteries
   No, since 1st January 2018, they are not counted as part of the weight of the equipment. Batteries must be reported separately as Device Batteries.

- Accessories which have electrical or electronic components
   Yes, e.g. chargers, headphones, etc.

- Accessories which have no electrical or electronic components
   No, these no longer need to be taken into account since 1st January 2018. Vacuum cleaner nozzles and hoses, etc. covers or mounting materials, which have no electrical function, do not count as part of the weight of the equipment.

You can find the official factsheet on the reporting of accessories here.

Which obligations can ERA not take over for you?

We cannot take over obligations which are directly concerned with your technology and the labelling of your products.

This also includes your compliance with the RoHS restricted substances list, the CE label and the label with the crossed-out bin.

What is equipment for "private households" (or "household equipment")?

Electrical and electronic equipment for private households is every piece of equipment which is designed for private households. In addition, equipment for trade, industry, administration and some other sectors, which is comparable in type and size to equipment for private households and could be used as such at any time, also counts as household equipment.

Every piece of electrical and electronic equipment which is used in commercial businesses but could also be placed into any normal household is known as "Dual-Use-Equipment" and is considered as household equipment.

An example of "Dual-Use-Equipment" is a computer screen. Even when located in an office, it still counts as private household equipment because it could also be placed in any normal household at any time.

What is equipment for "commercial purposes"?

Electrical and electronic equipment for commercial purposes is every piece of equipment which, due to its properties and/or performance capability, would not usually be found in a normal household (e.g. large display refrigerators, specialised tools, etc.).

Photo-voltaic modules also belong in this category.

What are equipment categories?

There are 5 different categories in Austria where you must report the amount of products put into the market:

For household equipment they are:

1. Large electrical equipment
    These are electrical appliances with a rigid edge-length of more than 50 cm.
    For example: washing machines, driers using heat, dishwashers, etc. (Cooling appliances have their own category.)

2. Cooling equipment
   This includes all electrical appliances which have a refrigeration circuit - hence air-conditioning units are also categorised as cooling appliances.

3. Screens
    This includes all equipment which has a screen (cathode ray tube, LCD, LED, etc.) with a surface area of over 100 cm².  
    For example: computer monitors, televisions, laptops, etc. Note that tablets with screens that have a diagonal of more than 7 inches (17.57 cm) are also included.

4. Small electrical equipment
   These are appliances or devices which have a rigid edge-length of less than 50 cm². 
   For example: radios, kitchen appliances, musical instruments, tools, etc.

5. Lamps
    This includes not only fluorescent lamps and energy-saving lamps but also LED lamps as long as they have their own sockets and are removeable. 

The same categories are used for equipment for commercial purposes with the additional category for photo-voltaic modules.

What is meant by "imports for own use"?

When you procure electrical or electronic equipment for the operation of your company, you must transfer the equipment, at your own verifiable cost, to an authorised waste collection and waste treatment company. However, when this equipment is covered by a collection and recycling system such as ERA, you can hand in the old equipment to a collection point free of charge.

Who is responsible? "Manufacturer Definition"

The so-called "Manufacturer Concept" is defined in §13a AWG (the Austrian Waste Management Act). In the context of this law, manufacturer includes not only producers but also importers and the owners of the brandnames.

Companies who are based abroad are also subject to obligations. You can find more details here.

In addition, if you sell equipment from Austria in other EU Member States, you are subject to the Austrian law. In this case, you must also obey the valid Member States' regulations with regard to disposal of waste electrical equipment and batteries.

Manufacturer Definition §13a AWG

(only German version available)

What types of batteries are there?

According to the Austrian Battery Act and the Waste Management Act, the following types of batteries are defined:

  • Device-batteries (sometimes called "portable batteries"
    These are mono-cell batteries (e.g. AA, AAA, etc.) and includes all batteries for mobile phones, computers, household equipment and garden equipment, etc.
    It doesn't matter if they are used in household equipment or in industry.

  • Vehicle batteries
    These are batteries for the starter motor or ignition of vehicles.
    Batteries which power the vehicle itself (so-called Electric Vehicle Batteries) are NOT covered by this.

  • Industrial batteries
    These are batteries which are used for such things as back-up power supplies for hospitals, airports or offices, operating electric vehicles (including fork-lift trucks) or back-up batteries for photo-voltaic systems.

According to the Austrian Waste Management Act, LITHIUM BATTERIES must be dealt with separately so that within the types of batteries there is another division between LITHIUM BATTERIES and other batteries. Therefore, "Lithium device batteries" and "other device batteries" must be differentiated. The same applies to vehicle batteries and industrial batteries.

Please note:
Small batteries are practically always device batteries, even if they are used in industry or business (e.g. for checkouts, headlights, video technology, etc.). 
Similarly, e-bike batteries are considered device batteries and not industrial batteries.

If you put device batteries or vehicle batteries on the market, you must participate in an authorised collection and recycling system such as ERA.

Participation for industrial batteries is voluntary. You have to take back industrial batteries from your customers and recycle them if you do not participate in a system. (You can exempt this in sales contracts.)

You can find more information on types of batteries here.

How are batteries labelled?

Batteries, accumulators und battery sets must be labelled with the symbol for separate collection.

This symbol is applied as follows:

statutory provisions for the symbol:

- a minimum of 3% of the largest lateral surface of the battery
- a maximum size of 5 x 5 cm
- if required, a declaration under the symbol of any heavy metal content 
- easily visible
- readable
- durable

More details can be found in Annex 2 of the Battery Act.

What are the returns obligations for retailers?

Retailers who sell batteries must accept the return of waste batteries. This also applies when no new batteries are bought. A specially designated cardboard collection box is usually provided in the entrance area.

Since the Waste Management Act came into force in 2017, there are new regulations for lithium batteries. Special safety regulations must be followed for waste large lithium batteries (> 500 g or > 100 W) and  lithium batteries which are obviously broken.

Please contact us if you require more detailed information.

What is meant by "imports for own use"?

When you are the end-user of device or vehicle batteries used in the operation of your company which was procured from abroad and they eventually become waste, you have collect these waste device or vehicle batteries and have them dealt with at your own cost.  In addition, you have to report on the collection and treatment of them to the official Registry.

Alternatively you could participate with device and vehicle batteries in a collection and recycling scheme.

Where can I take waste and broken electrical equipment for disposal?

Local Collection Points

In Austria, there is a wide network of collection points available where you can take your waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries for disposal at no cost to you. 

You can also hand in your waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries at the exisiting and familiar sites of Austria's waste disposal network such as rubbish dumps, junk yards, etc.

Regional ERA Collection Points

Manufacturers and retailers can also drop off waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries, such as those returned directly to retail outlets by customers, free of charge at any of around 100 regional ERA Collection Points. 

In the same way, electrical equipment, which was licensed solely for commercial purposes, can also be handed in to our Regional Collection Points free of charge. 

A commercial end-user/customer can confirm that the affected equipment is legally released to ERA by handing in a completed ERA Release Statement Form at the time of delivery. This form is available at the collection point or can be downloaded:

ERA Release Statement Form (for handing in at the Regional Collection Point)

Electrical and electronic equipment which can also be used in households (so-called Dual-Use-Equipment) can also be returned free of charge to the collection points and, in this case, no ERA Release Statement Form is required. For a summary of how waste equipment which accumulates in a company can be dealt with, click here.

Of course, consumers can also hand in their waste electrical household equipment and batteries at these collection points.

Regional Retailer Collection Points

 

Consumers can also return their waste electrical equipment to retailers when they buy a new piece of equipment of a similar function/type of construction. Shops with a sales area of < 150 m² do not have to take back equipment when this is made clear through in-store notices. Batteries can always be returned to retailers even when new ones are not purchased.

In following current environmental regulations and in accordance with the latest technological developments, the recycling and disposal of waste electrical and electronic equipment must be carried out with 2 objectives:  on the one hand, the amount of waste should be reduced to a minimum, and on the other, the protection of natural resources must be served because a lot electrical equipment contains valuable secondary raw materials. There are different treatment procedures for different types of electrical equipment.

ERA works with partners who guarantee the envionmentally-friendly processing of waste electrical equipment and batteries.

ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT

Large Electrical Equipment

For example: washing machines, dishwashers, electric cookers

The first step in dealing with large electrical equipment must be the removal of all harmful materials.  This means removing all of the component parts which contain harmful substances (batteries, accumulators, condensors, conductors, ink cartridges, toner cartridges, etc.) and handing them over to a specialist in dealing with hazardous waste.

The equipment is then shredded. It is reduced to very small pieces and then automatically sorted (using magnets, optical processes) so that the secondary raw materials can be put back into the raw material life-cycle.

The remainder, which consists largely of plastic or synthetic materials, is recycled as far as possible.

Materials which cannot be recycled are used in the creation of thermal energy.

Cooling and freezing equipment

For example: fridges, freezers


The treatment of cooling equipment takes place in 2 stages. In the first stage, the cooling substances of the refrigeration process are sucked out and components containing harmful substances are removed. These components receive additional specialist processing in the second stage.

 


Stage 1: Treatment of the refrigeration unit - draining


The cooling system is drained using a vacuum system. The cooling substances and cooling oil are sucked out using pressure in a closed system. This system removes the CFCs (chlorofluorcarbons), which damage the ozone layer, puts them into pressurised containers and destroys them in a 2000°C high-temperature oven. More modern equipment no longer uses CFCs, in which case the cooling substances are sucked out and separated.

Following drainage, the compressors, all wood and glass contents and all the components which contain harmful substances such as condensors and mercury switches, are removed and separately collected.

 

 

Stage 2: Final processing - treatment of the insulating foam

In the final processing stage, the cooling equipment is shredded into small pieces and the different materials from its housing are separated. The shredding is carried out in a closed system. This ensures that the insulating foam, which is released by the shredding process and contains environmentally harmful CFC-based insulating and foaming agents, is captured. Dust is removed from the CFC-air mixture and then it is dried and cooled before being captured in a charcoal filter. Finally, the CFCs are liquified by cooling to -35 degrees C.

This process yields iron, non-ferrous metals, plastics and polyurethane as secondary raw materials.

Screens

For example: flatscreen TVs, touchscreen TVs, computer screens


The correct dismantling of screens involves significant manual work and includes the removal of the back, taking out the printed circuit board chassis (several printed circuit boards in a metal frame), ventilation of the picture tube (risk of implosion), taking out the cathode ray tube and separating the getter-grid from it. The components are made free of harmful substances by separating out the batteries, accumulators, electrolyte condensors and the LCD display unit.

The picture tube is separated by unscrewing it from its housing. In a further treatment step, the glass cone which contains lead oxide, the screen glass which contains barium, and the toxic fluorescent coating from the screen glass are separated out. Glass which is purified and separated in this way can be re-used as a raw material in the glass industry. The fluorescent coating is dealt with as hazardous waste.

Two variations for the re-use of the picture tube are currently used:


1. Separation process

The removed picture tube can be separated into screen glass and cone glass by means of a filament or a glass partition. The metallic shadow mask is taken out. The fluorescent dust is sucked from the screen glass.

2. Shredding process

A special shredder machine enables the separation of cone glass and screen glass by using a flow-operated magnetic separator to separate the metals. A dry-clean stage removes most of the coating from the screen glass. This is followed by a wet-clean process which serves to remove any remaining coating.

Small electrical devices

For example: MP3 players, mobile phones, electric toothbrushes, digital watches


Small electrical devices tend to consist of a high proportion of harmful substances which must be removed as a first step in their recycling. This is done manually either before breaking the device into small particles or afterwards. In removing the harmful substances before the shredding, the device is usually broken up in a simple way (using a hammer and screwdriver) and the recycleable contents are separated out from the harmful substances. In the other case, the shredded material is put on a conveyor belt and the harmful substances are removed.

A special shredder or a transverse current cutting machine is used to reduce the device into small particles. In both cases, after the removal of the harmful substances, the metal content is separated from other materials and subjected to additional processing stages to separate it into different metal fractions.

Gas discharge lamps

For example: Energy-saving lamps, neon strip-lights, xenon floodlights/headlights


There are different processes for recycling gas discharge lamps. Two of the cheapest methods are the Kappen-Trenn Process for those which are rod-shaped  and the Shredder Process for all other shapes (i.e. not rod-shaped).

Cut off - Process

The fluorescent tubes are first sorted according to diameter and length and then put on a conveyor belt and automatically fed into the recycling system, counted by sensors and the dimensions input into the management system for processing.

Subsequently, the metal caps are cut off from the tube, the lamp glass is broken and the fluorescent powder, which contains mercury, is vacuumed away. The vacuum machine and the filter system are used to capture the fluorescent material in sealed steel containers. The waste air, which contains mercury, is managed by the filter system and cleaned using a charcoal filter. 

Shredder Process

First, the lamps are broken into very small pieces using a crushing machine. Then, each part is separated according to mixed glass, metal or fluorescent material. The processing plant operates in a low pressure environment in order to prevent mercury emissions. The mercury in the lamps accumulates through the crushing of the lamps and the vacuuming of the fluorescent material and is primarily present in the mixture of dust from the fluorescent material and glass. A small amount of mercury is present in the resultant secondary raw materials and can be removed by additional treatment. The traces of mercury in the air are safely gathered in a charcoal filter.

In both cases, the recycling of the mixed glass can be used in different application areas, e.g. in the shape of glass blocks, glass wool insulating material, other technical uses for glass or as an additive in the building material industry. The mercury dust fraction is disposed of as special waste.

BATTERIES

Device batteries

For example: zinc-carbon batteries, alkaline-manganese batteries, round cell batteries, nickel metal hydride batteries, nickel-cadmium accumulators


Device batteries are not sorted during collection. It is only after collection that the batteries and accumulators are sorted into special groups. Zinc-carbon and alkaline-manganese batteries are grouped together as Primary Batteries while accumulators, such as nickel-cadmium, lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries, are grouped together as Secondary Batteries. This sorting is essential for the subsequent recycling because the batteries undergo different recycling processes according to their contents.

The biggest challenge in recycling is separating the harmful substances (e.g. mercury and cadmium) from the valuable substances (mainly zinc, manganese and iron).

Primary Batteries
 are heat-treated to around 70oC in a rotary kiln. This releases the mercury and cadmium contents in a vapour form which is further isolated in a connected flue gas scrubber. The heat-treatment removes the mercury completely as well as around 90% of the cadmium from the old batteries. After shredding, a magnetic separation and a sieve result in a residue of scrap iron, zinc and manganese.
The scrap iron can be used as a secondary raw material in the iron and steel industry while the zinc-manganese residue is used in metallurgical plants in the production of zinc oxide. Zinc oxide has many applications, for example, as a raw material for zinc electrolysis, as an additive in pharmaceutical preparations, in the field of surface chemistry, etc.

Secondary Batteries
 are treated in certified metallurgical plants (heat-treatment) as each type is subject to special treatment processes such that the recovery of metals (nickel, cadmium, lithium, lead and iron) is the priority. Mercury is salvaged from the components which contain it by vapourisation and distillation processes and then recycled or disposed of.

Vehicle batteries

For example: starter batteries for the car industry


The used accumulators are delivered complete with acid in an acid-proof, sealed housing. In the subsequent processing, a crushing machine is used to create a homogeneous fractional separation into accumulator grids, lead paste, separated plastics (polyethylene, cellulosic plastic), housing material and sulphuric acid. The lead paste is desulphurised using caustic soda. This produces lead oxide and sodium sulphate so that sulphur dioxide emissions are minimised in the subsequent smelting process.

Smelting:
 Accumulator grids and the desulphurised lead paste are melted down in a short drum oven and, with the aid of additives, a low-melting point, dumpable silicate slag is produced. Further processing  of this produces pig lead for the refinement process.

Refinement:
 In the refinery, the pig lead is melted down again in tanks and the unwanted accompanying elements are removed. The use of selected additives produces specific lead alloys. The finished lead alloys are cast into bars.

 

Industrial batteries

For example: Industrial batteries such as forklift truck batteries, accumulators  which are used as auxiliary power supplies amongst other uses


In many cases, these are treated in the same way as vehicle batteries. Lead acid accumulators can be  melted down in a similar way as vehicle batteries in the secondary lead smelting process.


You can find more detailed information in the section on "Vehicle batteries".