Small but mighty:
Why it pays to dispose of even small electrical appliances properly.

It's common knowledge in Switzerland that broken electrical and electronic equipment has no place in household waste. This is shown by a study commissioned by SENS eRecycling 2021. 

More than 90% of those surveyed knew that electrical waste should be disposed of separately. The idea of stuffing a broken vacuum cleaner into a 110-liter waste bag almost never occurs to us anymore. And the days when broken refrigerators were dumped wildly at the edge of the forest are thankfully long gone.

But what about small and very small appliances?

For example, your mini flashlight that lights your way on nighttime excursions, your son's little toy robot, the razor or the practical, super-small travel alarm clock that you no longer want to do without on your vacation trips? 

Between you and me, we've probably all toyed with the idea of throwing such devices away with the household garbage on a few occasions. After all, it's a legitimate question: Are there enough recyclable materials in small electrical and electronic devices to make separate disposal and professional recycling worthwhile?

If you've asked yourself this question from time to time, you really must read on now. You'll be surprised at the positive impact that eRecycling small appliances has on our environment.

What are small appliances anyway?

First of all, we need to clarify which devices are considered small appliances. The definition varies from country to country. In Switzerland, all devices that weigh no more than 2.5 kg are considered small devices. In Germany, on the other hand, it is not the weight that is decisive, but the largest external dimension. This must not exceed 50 cm.

It is now important to know that valuable raw materials, which can be returned to the cycle through proper recycling, are found in every electrical or electronic device without exception - no matter how large or small the device is. These recyclable materials include, for example, iron, aluminum, copper, platinum, gold, silver, but also a range of technical plastics. 

Now, of course, it is perfectly clear that the absolute amount of recyclable materials in a dishwasher is greater than in a hairdryer, for example. It is even the case that the recycling rate - i.e. the proportion of reusable materials in an appliance - is smaller for small appliances than for large ones. Refrigerators have a recycling rate of 85%, large appliances have a recycling rate of 78%, and small appliances have a recycling rate of 67%.

And yet, the total amount of recyclable materials in small appliances is not lower overall than in refrigerators. This is due to the sheer mass of small appliances collected. The following figures show this impressively: in 2021, a total of 31,450 tons of small appliances were collected. For refrigerators, the figure is 23,350 tons, and for large appliances, 38,850 tons.

As you can see, every properly disposed appliance - no matter how small - contributes to the success of eRecycling in Switzerland. It's like running a marathon: every single step is important to successfully reach the finish line.