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    Electronic waste: Aldi and Lidl violate the law


    Whether it's a radio, toaster or razor: electrical items from discount stores have to be taken back by the respective store. But some don't comply with this.

    The return of old electrical appliances is regulated by law. However, the discounters Aldi Süd and Lidl are not performing satisfactorily with this legal obligation. As the German Environmental Aid (DUH) announced in Berlin on Tuesday, the organization has prevailed with injunctions in two courts. It had tested whether the discounter really takes back small electrical appliances, as required by law since July 2022.

    Environmentalists visited two Aldi Süd stores, one of which, according to the DUH, refused to accept the devices. The DUH also visited five Lidl stores, two of which reportedly said no. The environmental group then took the store to court. The Mainz Regional Court ruled against Aldi Süd and the Frankenthal Regional Court against Lidl, as both courts confirmed upon request.

    Aldi Süd and Lidl stressed that they were complying with the legal requirements. Aldi Süd spoke of an isolated case in which the return process had “not worked smoothly”. They regretted this, but respected the court's decision. Aldi Süd did not want to appeal.

    Lidl did not want to go into detail about the ongoing proceedings. The DUH had already filed a lawsuit against the discount chain Norma before the Nuremberg-Fürth Regional Court in 2023. There was no judgment there, but a settlement was reached – in which Norma committed to abide by the rules in the future.

    Since July 2022, supermarkets and discounters with a sales area larger than 800 square meters have to take back electrical appliances with an edge length of up to 25 centimeters free of charge. These include, for example, razors, electric toothbrushes, chargers and small toasters. If the devices are larger, they only have to be taken back if the customer buys another comparable new device in the store at the same time.

    “It is a disgrace that Aldi Süd and Lidl have to be forced by the courts to comply with their legal obligation to take back electronic waste,” explained DUH Federal Director Barbara Metz, pointing out that similar proceedings are still pending against Aldi Nord and Netto. The collection rate of electronic waste has recently fallen significantly again, and is now only 32 percent in Germany. That is just half as much as required by law.

    Lidl said that it has been accepting small old electrical appliances in Germany since July 2022. “To inform people about this, a sign is permanently displayed in the stores in the main customer flow,” said a Lidl spokeswoman. “The returned devices are professionally recycled or disposed of by qualified external service providers.” Aldi Süd pointed out that customers can turn to employees to return small electrical appliances. Standard commercial quantities – i.e. a maximum of three devices per device type – are accepted.

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