Electronic waste rules are over a decade old, so why is the problem getting worse?

German electronic waste laws reach 13-years-old in tomorrow. The occasion was marked with a large piece of 3D pavement art in Berlin.


The artwork in Alexanderplatz


Green group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) organised the spectacle in Berlin to highlight the low amounts of electronic waste collected in Germany. The same printed artwork was the centrepiece of a similar protest staged outside Mobile World Congress in Spain a fortnight ago.



E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream. Nearly two million tonnes of televisions, toasters and other consumer gadgets are binned in Germany each year, with under half recycled under ElektroG laws.

DUH waste campaigner, Mateja Kahmann said:

“Sales strategies and product design systematically shorten the life of electrical appliances. The production of new equipment requires a lot of energy and valuable resources, with harmful consequences for the environment.”

The aggressive stance taken by tech firms was recently highlighted by the Washington Post in a story about Microsoft suing an activist for trying to extend the life of computers.

Environmental groups across Europe launched a campaign this week to demand that smartphones are designed to last longer and be repaired.

When electronics cannot be repaired, European laws let consumers drop off broken items to retailers without charge. Some firms, like IKEA, take away old items as they deliver a replacement. Separating e-waste from other types of rubbish helps recyclers and reduces pollution from toxic chemicals, such as flame retardants, commonly found in electronic waste.