We could repair and reuse far more discarded electrical products if only their power cables had not been cut off. It is illegal to cut off the cables of reusable products, but it is still widely done.

17% of discarded but reusable white goods cannot be prepared for reuse, leave the waste stream and re-enter the market.  One of the biggest reasons for discarding otherwise usable used products is that the cables are cut off. This is the result of an analysis carried out by environmental consultancy Econet.  Elretur assumes that this problem also applies to a significant extent to other discarded electrical items with power cables.

Power cables for used white goods – and for a wide range of other electrical products – tend to go missing. They are cut off close to the power input of the product, and even though the rules and the law prescribe that a power cable must be kept with the product, most of the time the cable is gone. According to the rules, the product cannot then be reused.

500 tonnes of copper go missing illegally

There are several reasons for the removed power cables. But Elretur assumes that the main reason for cables being cut off is money. 500 tonnes of copper go missing with the cables every year. Other reasons may be practicalities or a lack of knowledge about handling power cables. At some recycling centres, there is a dedicated cage for power cables next to electrical items and a pair of cutters. This is likely to give many consumers the impression that product and cable should be separated. But this is wrong and a practice that hinders reuse.

Elretur is actively working to ensure that power cables are not separated from products. Neither at the consumer’s home nor at the recycling centre.

In this way, we can ensure that many more discarded products can be prepared for reuse, cleaned, refurbished and made marketable again. For the benefit of the environment, people and the market.

According to Econet’s analysis, the three most common reasons for discarding reusable products are:


The product is over six years old and therefore remains discarded

Cutting of power cables

Without a power cable, it is against the rules to reuse the product


This covers several different areas, e.g. missing components (like shelves, drums etc.)

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Om Elretur

About Elretur

Elretur is Denmark’s largest producer responsibility organisation, representing many different industries and types of companies.