Two weeks ago the Federal Council urged corrections to the government draft to reform the Electrical Equipment Act. “The completely undesirable development of permanently installed batteries in more and more products, especially smartphones and notebooks, from the perspective of the circular economy, must be stopped urgently,” demanded the regional chamber. The federal government supports “the intention of the application”, but rejects the application anyway.
In the case of cell phones in particular, the Federal Council wanted to know that the user could replace the battery himself and use the cell phone for longer. According to him, it should be possible to deliver batteries as spare parts within a period of around fourteen days for around five years after purchase.
“Only possible across the EU”
The the federal government is now countering: “For reasons of internal market law, further requirements for product design are only possible and sensible across the EU.” Most electrical appliances are traded in an international market. “That is why, within the framework of the EU Ecodesign Directive, there are mandatory requirements for energy and resource efficiency for product groups relevant to energy consumption throughout Europe.”
In this respect, according to the Federal Government, the reference to the so-called WEEE Directive for the avoidance of electronic waste from 2012 mentioned in the Federal Council’s justification is also wrong. It is true that this basically gives the member states the opportunity to take measures to promote the design and production of sustainable electrical appliances. Further specific requirements for the design should only be stipulated within the framework of the Ecodesign Directive.
In total, the federal government rejected 19 suggestions from the regional chamber. She only gives in to smaller, sometimes editorial correction requests. The desired duty to determine the “mass percentage of the devices and components brought into reuse by the public waste disposal companies” and to announce the results is not necessary, since otherwise it would “only lead to double regulations with the same content” .
Reuse what works
The Federal Council had also demanded that still functioning devices that were disposed of be stored separately “in order to make reuse possible”. The Federal Government also considers this proposal to be unnecessary. Recycling yards are free to “take measures to promote reuse” even without legal requirements. This has already been demonstrated by a research project for an overall concept for the handling of old electrical appliances by the Federal Environment Agency.
In general, the federal government wants to achieve with the project that citizens can hand in old electrical devices such as razors or cell phones in discount stores and supermarkets and send them back to online suppliers. In the case of Internet dispatch, the federal states had urged that “regardless of the size of the storage and dispatch areas, medium and large corporations should be obliged to take back products” and comparable distributors.
“Practically not enforceable”
The federal government says “no” to this, too, since the proposal is “generally not feasible in practice”. So far, the differentiation has been made according to the storage and shipping size of the company, which is also considered difficult to verify. The government also does not consider the initiative of the Federal Council to be expedient to give manufacturers financial incentives for durable, repairable, reusable, recyclable and low-pollutant products, for example through a bonus-malus system.
Both committees agree that in the future clothing with electronic functions, for example for warming or lighting, and drones should also come under the law. The Länderkammer does not require approval, but it could refer the project to the mediation committee with the Bundestag if the latter does not take up the requested improvements. This would drag on the process, which would be risky before the elections in September.