Highly useful:
What percentage of an electrical appliance can actually be reused?

It is common knowledge that electrical and electronic appliances contain many recyclable materials that can be reused. But how big is the recyclable material share actually? 30%, 50% or even much higher?

Before we can answer this question, we must first clarify what "recyclable" actually means. In eRecycling, a distinction is made between reusable and recyclable materials.

Good examples of recyclable materials are the various metals found in electrical appliances. For example, iron, chrome steel, aluminium, copper or brass. During the recycling process, these metals are crushed, agglomerated and then separated from each other. This ensures that the metal fractions are returned to the material cycle in as pure a form as possible, where they are reused as secondary raw materials for the manufacture of new products. 

Not reusable but still recyclable
Certain technical plastics are also recyclable. Other plastics, on the other hand, such as composites with silicone and rubber or those containing bromine-based flame retardants, cannot be recycled. Nevertheless, they can be recycled: for example as substitute fuel in cement plants or for electricity and heat generation by waste incineration plants.

The recycling rate measures the proportion of reusable materials in an electrical appliance. The recovery rate also includes the proportion of recyclable materials. It is therefore always at least as high, but often higher, than the recycling rate. A third ratio that is sometimes mentioned in connection with eRecycling is the collection rate. This is the ratio of the number of electrical appliances collected and recycled to the total number of appliances put on the market. 

So how high is the recyclable material share in reality? 
On average, the recycling rate is 75%. The class leader among electrical appliances is the hand blender, which consists of 99.1%, i.e. almost entirely of recyclable materials. The recycling rate for a coffee maker is 79.9%, for a cordless screwdriver 67.7% and for a robot hoover 65.7%. Refrigerators have a recycling rate of 85%, and for large appliances it is 78%. 

Overall, the share of recyclable materials in electrical appliances is high. But not yet so high that one could already speak of a true circular economy. Such an economy - at least that is the vision - is based on a recycling rate of nearly 100%. In order to achieve this long-term goal, the recycling concept must play an even more consistent role in product development than it does today. This is the only way to ensure that products are designed from the outset in such a way that it really is possible to recycle all the materials that make up a device.