Living in Germany - Recycling

Living in Germany - Recycling

The German household garbage recycling system is most impressive. Recycling policies and regulations vary slightly from town to town. In general, you can go by the following:

• Most plastic wrappings and containers have a “Grüner Punkt” - a little green triangle with arrows. These items belong in the yellow trash can or plastic bag (“Gelbe Tonne/Sack”).

• Paper and cardboard go in the blue trash can (Blaue Tonne or “Papiermüll”) or in special paper recycling containers in your neighborhood.

• Glass goes in specially marked glass trash cans or in special glass recycling containers in your neighborhood (throw in the glass only during working hours). Bottles are also separated by color, e.g. green bottles = “Grünglas” and white bottles = ”Weissglas”

• Old clothes and shoes are picked up at your curb by various charity organizations on a regular basis (they will announce a few days before). Alternatively, there are containers for old clothes and shoes set up by commercial companies around the city.

• Compostable kitchen waste goes in the (green or brown) bio-container (“Biotonne”).Garden cuttings go in the bio-container or into a special compost container (Kompost-Container) to be found somewhere in your area.

• Old batteries are collected in special boxes in many stores. All stores selling batteries must accept used batteries!

• Broken televisions, old refrigerators, old furniture, ironing boards, etc. can be picked up by the local council for free 1-2 times a year. Call your local council for an appointment. Alternatively, cities set up special recycling grounds where citizens can deliver things they need to get rid of (“Recyclinghof” or “Entsorgungsanlage”). Fees will be charged for some items. Locations can be found out from your local authorities.

• There is even a special Christmas tree pickup day “Abholung der Weihnachtsbäume.” Dates will be announced in newspapers, usually early or mid-January.

• If you have anything left, put it in the dark grey trash can for non-recyclable trash, “Restmüll.” However, if you have a wood burner, do not put hot ashes in the trash, please!

Photo by Evan Lume/

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