If we hear the term, selective waste collection, the first thing that comes to people’s mind is the, luckily more and more popular, practice of collecting separately plastic and metal, paper, and glass waste separately and selectively. However, selective waste collection cannot stop here: according to the European Union's survey, the fastest increasing type of waste is currently the electronic waste (e-waste). According to the European Commission's 2008 impact study, 8.3 to 9.1 million tonnes of e-waste were generated in 2005, which is projected to reach 12.3 million tonnes in Europe by 2020.
Manufacturers of electronic products and their operating instructions must indicate the following:
This crossed-out bucket signal warns that electronic equipment should not be placed in the communal waste collector: e-waste should be collected separately and selectively as well.
The two main reasons are
- e-waste is considered hazardous waste, and
- certain material fractions can be recycled so that they can be used as secondary raw materials in the manufacturing process (the use of secondary raw materials will result in substantial raw material and energy savings).
From a waste managing point of view, electronic products are special wastes exactly because they contain many types of materials. Among them are the, from a waste managing (or can be said manufactural) point of view, valuable materials that can easily be recycled into manufacturing processes, such as iron or precious metals. But there are worthless and even dangerous materials - such as some heavy metals (e.g. mercury, cadmium, lead), however there are also different types of plastics that are increasingly involved in products. Therefore, e-waste can damage the environment through inappropriate waste management practices. Because if they are mixed with communal wastes or they are left in the nature in a forest or on a bank, then due to rainwater, the mixing with other substances, and incineration the dangerous substances which were in a bound state can cause serious damages to the environment (in the soil or the air).
Therefore, these devices require special collection and treatment in terms of dismantling, and recycling or disposal. Particularly dangerous are, for example, old refrigerators containing freon, as well as picture tubes: television or computer monitors that contain lead.
What should we do if we no longer need the old electrical appliances?
When purchasing a new appliance, the trader has to take back the old equipment offered by the customer and used for the same purpose as the new appliance, for free. All this is free of charge, so the trader cannot ask money for taking it back. Not even if the customer asks the trader to remove the old appliance when delivering the new product to the customer’s address. In this case, it is also obligatory for the shop to provide free of charge transport regarding the old refrigerator, washing machine and other large appliances from the customer's apartment.
Traders must take back smaller appliances even if we do not buy new ones (stores with a floor area larger than 400m2 are required to take back electrical appliances up to 25cm in diameter).
At most electronics stores, super- or hypermarkets used fluorescent lamps, bulbs, cells and batteries can be deposed.
IMPORTANT NOTICE. If you purchase your device online in an online store, the trader will also be required to take back the old appliance when delivering the new to your home. Often, you must indicate on the ordering surface if you are requesting free removal of the old machine in order to make the trader have the right transporting capacity. So in case of online shopping, we should pay attention!
From January 1, 2015, the merchant (or manufacturer) (from whom we purchase the device) will provide natural person customers a voucher of specific amount if the old appliance is offered to the trader for a takeover and a new product is purchased.
Purchase voucher is a "receipt or invoice issued in printed or electronic form entitling the holder to have a certain rebate from the price when purchasing new electrical and electronic equipment, which is specified in this Decree" (Government Decree Nr. 197 of 2014 (VIII.1.)).
Terms and conditions for issuing and using the purchase voucher:
a) the rebate granted on the basis of a purchase voucher may not exceed 10% of the consumer purchase price of the new electrical, electronic equipment, unless the trader wishes to provide larger rebate or more discount to the consumer;
b) a single purchase voucher can only be used for the purchase of one new electrical, electronic equipment unless the merchant accepts multiple vouchers simultaneously for the purchase of the same new electrical, electronic equipment;
c) the purchase voucher may only be used for the purchase of new electrical and electronic equipment on the date and at the place of delivery of the used electrical and electronic equipment, unless the manufacturer wishes to accept the purchase voucher not only on the day and at the place of delivery.
The purchase voucher varies between 50 and 700 forints, depending on the device type. For example, for large domestic household appliances (e.g. refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, cookers) 500-700 forints, for vacuum cleaners and irons 100 forints, for televisions 500, and for fluorescent lamps and normal lamps 50 forints is the obligatory value of the voucher per device (the full list can be found in Annex 1 of Government Decree Nr. 197 of 2014) (VIII.1.).
As a general rule, e-wastes can be deposited in municipal scrapyards. You can find out more about the nearest scrapyard on the local public utility company’s website or the local municipal website.
Scrapyards generally take back all sorts of e-waste, but if you want to deposit a refrigerator or a picture tube appliance (TV, monitor), you'll first need to call them if they can surely take it back. It is also advisable to get informed before you arrive with other large devices, because lack of space (if the scrapyard is full) may also be a reason for refusing the takeover.
Attention! On June 23, 2017, a new provision of the Waste Act came into effect according to which waste can be disposed of at a scrapyard only if we certify that we have paid the waste management public service fee. The scrapyard can therefore request proof of this!
Unfortunately, many people do not know that electrical equipment should not be left on the street during house-clearance. These hazardous wastes, as we have seen, require a proper dismantling.
The house-clearance organization always provides the opportunity to dispose of hazardous waste. You can find the location and date of this in their handout or on the organization's website.