Garbage Management In Germany

Garbage Management In Germany

You will have many questions, and how to separate the garbage in Germany will be one of them. Recycling in Germany is an essential thing. That’s why Germany has the best recycling and garbage management rate in the world. You will be surprised to know that 56% of all municipal waste gets recycled.

If we talk about the numbers in 2020, on average, each person in Germany produced 194 kg of house trash yearly. The surprising fact is that people in southern Germany make a lot less trash per person compared to northern Germany. Let’s talk about garbage management in Germany in detail.

Table of Contents

Why is Garbage Management in Germany so Good?

You must be aware that waste separation is quite comprehensive and taken seriously in Germany. It is not only strictly followed by governmental and state policies but also by German citizens themselves. The German citizens raised separating trash properly, which is in their blood.

Standard Trash Bins in German Homes

Usually, in a German household, it is pretty common to find three to four different garbage bins. Let’s have a look at the following.

  • Blue garbage bin
  • Yellow trash bin
  • Black or grey garbage bin
  • Green or brown trash bin 

How to Separate Garbage in German Households?

It is advisable to start separating your garbage the moment you produce it. Sifting through one big bag, later on, it could be pretty difficult to separate the trash. If you throw the unseparated trash, it will lead to a fine, and your garbage won’t be picked up. To become a good German citizen and separate the trash correctly in a household, let’s look at each color of the bin.

Blue Trash Bin – For Paper & Cardboard

It is straightforward to understand. All clean paper product belongs in the blue trash bin.

  • What Belongs In?
    • Carton packaging (folded)
    • Egg cartons
    • Letters and envelopes
    • Magazines
    • Newspaper
  • What doesn’t Belongs In?
    • Dirty cardboard with food residues = black bin
    • Drink cartons = yellow bin
    • Large carton shipping boxes = special large carton containers on your neighborhood streets
    • Paper towels = black bin 

Yellow Trash Bin – For Plastic & Soft Metal

Any trash and packaging made of soft metal, plastic, and coated paper with the green dot belong in the yellow trash bin. Always clean and rinse the food containers beforehand to allow recycling.

  • What Belongs In?
    • Aluminum foil
    • Drink cartons
    • Milk and juice cartons and tetra-packs
    • No-deposit cans
    • No-deposit plastic bottles
    • Tins
    • Yogurt containers (pull the metal lid of the plastic container completely because they get separated by machines and recycled differently)
  • What doesn’t Belongs In?
    • Batteries = special containers
    • Light bulbs = special containers
    • Styrofoam = black bin 

Green/Brown Trash Bin – For Organic/Bio Waste

The green or brown trash bin is for all biodegradable products. The Biotonne is the new addition to German garbage management, and it was introduced in 2015. Each household must have a green or brown trash bin. However, most of the family doesn’t have one yet.

  • What Belongs In?
    • Coffee grounds and filters
    • Eggshells
    • Food leftovers
    • Fruits, vegetables, and their skin
    • Waste from the garden area such as grass, flowers, leaves, etc.
  • What doesn’t Belongs In?
    • Ashes = black bin
    • General dirt = black bin
    • Pet litter = black bin

Grey/Black Trash Bin – For Residual Waste

The grey or black bin in Germany is for all other trash, including sanitary products, with exceptions. You need to dispose of the spirit and wine bottles, smaller jars, and oil bottles separately. You have probably noticed the big containers with holes in them in your neighborhood. This is especially where your glass bottles typically go. However, it is separated by white, brown, and green glass. Be careful about not throwing the beer bottles in such containers. You would be throwing your money away as they have a deposit.

What do You Know About the Deposit?

Most of the glass bottles (except for spirits and wine) and plastic bottles have a deposit in Germany. When you buy these bottles, you need to pay an extra eight to twenty-five cents each that you will get back upon returning these bottles.

What is Special Waste Disposal in Germany?

  • Batteries, Electronics, And Light Bulbs

However, do not put the electronics in your regular home trash. You are supposed to return them to dedicated locations to allow proper recycling. The most effortless procedure to return light bulbs and electronics are in your nearest electronics store. These are MediaMart and Saturn. The hardware stores are Bauhaus and Hornbach. You can also find light bulbs and battery recycling bins in the supermarkets such as Aldi, REWE, and dm.

  • Lacquers And Paint

However, the same procedure applies to leftovers of lacquers and paint. These should be disposed of properly moreover your local hardware stores take care of them. You can also return these items to the likes of Hornbach and Obi.

  • Old Clothes And Shoes

In Germany, you have many options to donate old clothes and shoes in good condition. Additionally, you will find a big container for clothes next to the glass and cardboard containers on your neighborhood streets. Please ensure to put the clothes in a tied-up bag before dropping them in. Another option to donate the old clothes is to pack them in a cardboard box and mail them free of charge from the nearby post office to the German Clothing Foundation.

  • Furniture And Bulky Items

The furniture and bulky items e.g. big electronics, washing machines, refrigerators, and TVs do not belong or fit into the regular garbage. To dispose of your old furniture and bulky items altogether sign up with your local garbage removal service. However, you will inform them of what you would like to dispose of, and they will notify you about the pickup time. Basically, they usually give the same date to everyone in the neighborhood. Suppose you dispose of these items without notifying your local garbage removal service. In that case, you can get a fine of up to 2.500 euros.

  • Christmas Tree Disposal

To dispose of the Christmas tree certainly look at your city’s waste management calendar. Especially, every neighborhood will have a set date of pickup. However, the night before pickup, you need to put a Christmas tree on the sidewalk in front of your home.

German Waste Management Calendar

Every city generally prints its waste management calendar in Germany. Additionally, the calendar sends to each household at the beginning of the year. Altogether, it informs you of dates about different bins that will get picked up in your neighborhood, along with how to dispose of the particular waste in your area.

Recycling Fines In Germany

You can find a summary of overall penalties for disrespecting German rules, regulations, and laws in the German Fine Catalog. However, every German state manages the fines differently. Moreover, for disposing of trash against the rules and in an incorrect way, you can receive a penalty of 10 to 1.500 euros.


We hope after reading the garbage management in Germany, you feel more confident about handling the trash. Germany is the world champion country in recycling waste because of its comprehensive and strict waste separation system. Take this guide as a learning experience; after all, waste separation is a good thing.

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