Smartphones, tablets, laptops: almost 300 million old devices in German households
Germans are hoarding a growing mountain of discarded devices and electronic waste. For example, Germans currently keep around 210 million cell phones or smartphones, 49 million laptops and 26 million tablets unused in their homes. This is the result of a calculation by Bitkom based on a representative survey of 1,003 people in Germany aged 16 and over.
In total, that's almost 300 million old devices.
With the old devices, there is not only a large amount of plastic and glass lying around in drawers and cupboards, but also numerous valuable raw materials. As an example: a smartphone consists of around 60 different components. Using the devices for longer therefore has a positive effect on the ecological footprint. It is therefore all the more important that the hoarded treasures are reused or disposed of properly.
Overall, Germans are showing a growing awareness of the ecological rucksack of technical and digital devices. 8 out of 10 (79 percent) say they use devices for longer instead of quickly buying new ones, as this conserves resources. 58 percent have electronic devices repaired when they become defective instead of buying new ones. Around one-sixth of Germans (15 percent) have already bought used but professionally refurbished products, so-called refurbished IT. There are now also several companies specializing in this segment alone. Another 50 percent can imagine doing so in the future. However, just under a third (31 percent) rule it out for themselves.
The disposal of discarded technology is an issue among Germans, despite the high numbers of old devices. 43 percent have recently, i.e. in the past 12 months, disposed of, sold or given away at least one IT device. This applies most to PC accessories such as keyboards, computer mice, webcams and the like: 20 percent have parted with them in the past 12 months. The majority of them have returned the small IT devices to the retailer or to a collection point specified by the retailer (31 percent). One fifth each gave their old PC accessories away (19 percent) or took them to a recycling center (18 percent).
Nevertheless, devices also end up in household waste from time to time. Nevertheless, many people find it difficult to dispose of IT and electrical equipment properly.
- Half (50 percent) often find it too time-consuming to dispose of old IT equipment.
- More than one tenth (12 percent) do not know how to dispose of old IT equipment
- For 11 percent, an old IT device has already ended up in the household waste.
However, discarded electronic devices should definitely not be disposed of with household waste. There are now also many low-threshold offers for consumers to dispose of their old devices. For example, since this year supermarkets and discount stores have also been accepting old electrical appliances under certain conditions. We advocate that such return options should be made much more widely known. Disposal of old but functional appliances can also take the form of donations to charitable organizations.
An overview of take-back offers for various electrical appliances is provided by stiftung ear with its Plan E website.
You can find the entire study here.
Do you sell electrical appliances?
If you are a manufacturer, retailer or importer of electronic products in a European country, your business model falls under the European WEEE Directive (EU Directive 2012/19/EU, formerly 2002/96/EC).
We are happy to support you in selling your electronic products and their proper disposal in compliance with the law. We also help you to observe the different laws with country-specific requirements that apply throughout Europe.
Please do not hesitate to contact us or ask for an offer for your individual service package.