Why care about recycling?
Germany is one of the most exemplary countries regarding its recycling economy.
According to the German Federal Statistical Offices, municipal waste was recycled to around 68% in 2017, which is quite a lot but leaves much room for improvement.
If garbage is not recycled correctly, the municipal garbage collection service will at some point refuse to empty your garbage cans. The consequence will be higher operating costs, which are passed on to all house residents equally. We are certain you are not that kind of person.
Greater motivation to care about recycling than costs should be the love for our planet. With over 350kg of garbage per person in Germany, it is an obvious necessity to ensure the proper disposal and recycling of resources.
Planet earth counts on you!
One could write a multivolume book on the recycling system with its rules and regulations.
We boiled it down for you in the following, so you can save precious time and still act responsibly towards your environment.
How do I separate waste? Here you go:
Glass waste: Glass is brought to glass containers/bottle tanks, where brown, green, and clear glass is separated. Remember that tableware, shards, or light bulbs don’t belong here; moreover, there’s a deposit on many glass bottles (see section “Deposit on trash?” below). You will find glass containers all around the city; most likely, there’s one in a short walking distance to your shared flat.
Yellow waste: All empty plastic packaging of food and body care/cleaning products, as well as light metal waste like food cans, bottle caps, and aluminum, belong in the “Yellow Waste” (often named “plastic waste”). Even most Drink cartons belong in there, as they contain a high percentage of plastic nowadays. Watch out for the “Grüner Punkt” symbol, carried by many packages that belong in the “Yellow Waste.”
Paper waste: Letters, egg cartons, flyers, newspapers - anything clean consisting of paper/natural fiber belongs to paper waste. Please remember to shred down cardboard boxes before you dispose of such to leave more space for your flatmates and neighbors.
Biowaste: This one is solely organic and 100% degradable. Any kitchen waste, as well as garden waste or flowers and plants (without pots), belong in here. Please note, not all buildings have a dedicated biowaste bin.
Rest waste: You may have guessed it - this is where (almost) all the rest belongs when it cannot be matched to any of the above. Everything here, like used tissues, ash, old photos, shards, dried pens, won’t be recycled and burned, which is harmful to the environment.
Hazardous waste: Batteries or LEDs can leak harmful substances. Therefore it does not belong in the house waste. Special containers are put up in supermarkets, hardware stores, or wherever you can buy said items to dispose of them again for free.
Bulky Waste: For Furniture and large electronic devices, you can terminate a chargeable pick up by a local disposal company. Needless to say, please don’t get rid of our homefully interior; share your feedback if you don’t like it.
Is there a deposit (“Pfand”) on any items I buy?
Yes! For many glass/plastic bottles, even for drink cans and large yogurt glasses, you pay a deposit at every shop's cash register. Bring it back to the shop, and you will get the deposit back.
So don’t throw away anything without further ado; check if there is a deposit symbol on it first.
There are very convenient deposit stations in many supermarkets that register everything you put in there and print out a voucher for the shop in return. In some shops, you can even donate the voucher to people in need.