Separate garbage or not

Waste separation and recycling

The Germans agree on one topic: waste separation is important. According to surveys, around 92 percent of consumers are in favor of recycling packaging waste. Proper waste disposal, however, still poses some major challenges for consumers. Above all, one question comes up again and again: What belongs in which bin? We have the answer and we can also tell you why careful waste separation is so important.

Why you should separate your garbage

Come to Germany each yearmore than 40 million tons of household waste together. Much of it consists of Packaging waste. A lot of CO is generated in the production of packaging2 at. In addition, natural resources such as wood and oil are consumed. In order to conserve the energy resources and raw materials, which are only available in limited numbers, recycling was brought into being.

We have been recycling our waste in Germany since the 1980s in order to obtain raw materials from which we can manufacture new products. In this way, existing resources can be efficiently reused in terms of the circular economy.

However, the recycling process itself is quite complex and resource-intensive. In order to keep the cost of material recycling as low as possible, it is important to keep your Separate household waste cleanly. If we were to forego waste separation, all raw materials would end up together in the waste incineration plants. Their potential for recycling would therefore remain untapped. Waste has to be sorted according to type so that recycling works properly. With the right waste separation, everyone can make an important contribution to environmental protection and efficient use of the resources available to us.

The yellow bin: For recyclable materials even without a green dot

Generally speaking, everyone belongs Metal, plastic and composite packaging in the yellow bin or the yellow sack. Until the end of 2008, only packaging marked with the green dot was allowed to be disposed of here. However, this is no longer the case. Packaging with and without the green dot therefore belongs in the yellow bin. These include:

  • Yogurt pots
  • Tetra Paks
  • Food cans
  • Aluminum foil
  • Styrofoam trays
  • Plastic bottles without deposit
  • Bottle caps
  • contact lenses

The packaging does not need to be rinsed before disposal, but at least it should spoon clean so there is no heavy soiling. It should also be noted that different types of plastic are used in many types of packaging. So that the sorting machines in the recycling plants can separate these according to type, it is important to Separate bowl and lid before throwing away. At present, this happens far too rarely, which also contributes to the fact that the actual recycling rates in Germany are far below the values ​​proclaimed by the federal government. You can find out more about this in the article Plastic recycling: This is why we recycle so little plastic.

The blue bin: Only for paper, cardboard and cardboard

Paper is also recycled. This is so important because the Production of paper from virgin fiber is very resource-intensive is. Not only the finite resource wood is used. In addition, paper production is also associated with an enormous amount of energy. To ensure that paper recycling is as problem-free as possible, it is important to dispose of waste paper carefully and correctly. That means: Only land in the blue bin Paper, cardboard and cardboard products. These include, for example:

  • newspapers and magazines
  • Books and catalogs
  • Wrapping paper
  • envelopes
  • Egg cartons
  • Bags of flour and sugar made of paper

Objects that actually have no business there often end up in the blue bin by mistake. This is particularly true of the following things:

  • Used napkins and kitchen towels
  • Dirty paper plates and pizza boxes
  • Receipts and tickets made of thermal paper
  • Parchment paper
  • Stickers and post-its

Although all these products apparently consist of paper or cardboard, they hinder the sorting of paper waste enormously and therefore belong in the residual waste. In the case of envelopes with viewing windows and packing tape on parcels, it is also very helpful to separate them from each other before disposal, otherwise this has to be done by hand in the recycling facilities.

Make a statement for the environment by only Products made from waste paper to buy. Recycled papers with the Blue Angel eco-label guarantee that they are made from 100 percent waste paper.

Glass belongs in the waste glass container

Glass is a valuable raw material that can be recycled again and again without any major loss of quality. That is why many glass bottles already contain a high proportion of recycled glass. In order for glass recycling to succeed, it is important that Separate glass by color and throw them into the appropriate collection containers for white, green and amber glass. The following applies: Colors that cannot be assigned such as blue glass in the container for green glass. Brown and white must remain pure in color. Just four colorful bottles in a white glass container with 1000 bottles can make recycling impossible.

But beware: Not every type of glass may be disposed of in the collection bins. Deposit-free beverage bottles, preserving jars and cosmetic flacons belong in the waste glass container. However, other glasses can interfere with the recycling process because of their composition or their higher melting point. That applies to:

  • Drinking glasses
  • Window glass
  • Mirror glass
  • light bulbs
  • Vases, porcelain and ceramics

As with plastic recycling, glass must also emptied before disposalbut not cleaned. Closures you should lose weight if possible and Dispose of separately. With the exception of wine corks, these belong in the yellow bin. Corks are best placed in the residual waste.

Organic waste for vegetable and animal waste

The bio bin is for them Disposal of vegetable and animal waste thought. Since 2015, all municipalities have had to offer citizens the opportunity to collect their organic waste in their own bin. This is either a green or a brown bin. When it comes to waste, it doesn't matter whether it is organic or not. All food waste and leftovers are in the best of hands in the organic waste. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Cigarette butts
  • Cardboard and paper
  • Wood products
  • Animal feces
  • Diapers

have no place in organic waste.

Organic waste is an important raw material for Production of biogas, which is an ecologically sound alternative to growing energy crops such as maize. This valuable energy supplier is also far too good for residual waste.

Many households now have their own again compost in the garden. Here, however, is allowed only biodegradable material how garden waste is disposed of. Cooked food waste, meat and bone scraps, on the other hand, would disrupt the putrefaction process.

It is also important to ensure that the Dispose of organic waste without a garbage bag. Garbage bags made from plastic substitute products are also not an alternative, as they do not decompose quickly enough. You can wrap wetter waste such as potato peels in some kitchen paper instead.

The black bin: For everything that cannot be recycled

With a few exceptions, all substances that have not yet been mentioned belong in the residual waste, i.e. the black bin. It refers to Garbage that cannot be recycled. This ends up in the waste incineration plant, where the heat released during the incineration process is used to generate energy. In this case one also speaks of the energetic or thermal recovery. Examples of residual waste are:

  • Toiletries and diapers
  • Used handkerchiefs
  • Candles
  • photos
  • ash
  • Drinking glasses
  • Old cleaning rags and scraps of fabric
  • Cigarette butts
  • Animal litter
  • Lighters
  • pen

What belongs in the hazardous waste?

Some objects may not be disposed of in the usual garbage cans due to the contained pollutants or explosive or toxic properties. These must be taken to a recycling center or disposed of at other collection points. Probably the best known example of hazardous waste Batteries. You can find in all supermarkets Collection containerin which you can dispose of dead batteries. But also Electrical appliances have no place in normal household waste. Smaller devices that do not exceed 25 cm in length can be converted into larger ones Electrical stores hand back. Some stores also accept larger devices. Otherwise these belong like Paints, varnishes, chemicals, acids and pesticides on one Recycling center.

Note: Please dispose of Never use medication down the drain! Many pharmacies take them back free of charge. If this is not the case, you should dispose of old medication in the general waste.

Avoiding waste instead of separating waste

In this article we have informed you about the correct separation of waste. However, you should never forget that the Waste prevention should always be a top priority. After all, lots of raw materials, water and energy are also required for production and recycling. Try, as free of packaging as possible to buy and in particular to do without plastic. In our blog article on the topic of Zero Waste, we give you an insight into life without waste. In our plastic alternative guide you will also find practical tips for a plastic-free everyday life.