Waste Separation in Germany

A brief introduction to the very German concept of waste separation. Or how to tackle the abundance of trash bins in your home.
3 Minutes

Just like bureaucracy, waste disposal follows strict rules in the country of Germany. However, knowing the true reason behind the complex waste separation system is extraordinarily mind changing.

How and why is waste disposed the way it is?

Previous articles already mention administrative procedures that help maintaining uniformity over certain processes in Germany like the how to register your place of residence. Waste disposal is also one of those matters. Although it might seem complicated at first, waste separation is a simple concept that supports a good cause by helping to preserve our habitat.

Waste disposal: a global issue

Waste is defined as unwanted or unusable material of any type, especially what is left after useful substances have been removed.

Most of the waste humankind produces is man-made material that needs to be dealt with in certain ways or it will decompose and poison our planet.

Although the volume of waste has decreased in the past 20 years, there is still too much waste on earth overall. In Germany alone approximately 400 million tons of waste are produced every year, that is annually around 455 kilograms of domestic waste per person!

Realizing what we produce as consumers every single day truly is terrifying.

Considering the amount of waste produced, disposal problems have become a global issue. A lot of waste is still not dealt with correctly and has a negative impact on our climate, wildlife, and natural environment: in the end it affects our own health.

Since earth is the only habitable planet (for now) every single consumer needs to contribute to the recycling process starting in one’s own household – your HVNS apartment! Which is why your waste bin already comes with two sections, in case you were wondering what it is for.

Domestic Waste | The Blowup on Unsplash

Waste separation concept in Germany 

Different colored bins are used to separate waste. 

The German public is generally aware of the importance of the correct disposal of different kinds of waste. The purpose is to conserve natural resources and protect human health and the environment from the impacts associated with the generation of waste. 

A separation concept for different kinds of trash was developed, considering the recyclability of products or their time to decompose. Every individual is responsible for separating their own waste into the correct bin and some other products must be recycled, like plastic bottles or cans that can be recycled with a bottle return system, called “Pfand”, in supermarkets.

Different colored bins and their use for domestic waste:

  • Yellow: plastic, packages etc.
  • Blue: paper, cartons etc.
  • Green/Brown: organic waste
  • Black: residual waste

Containers for special objects: 

  • Glass, divided into white, green and brown glass
  • Containers for old clothes
  • Collection points for used batteries and accumulators (divided, of course! – can be found in drugstores like DM or Rossmann)

Seeing the full picture can help a lot in appreciating the German concept of separating waste and evolving consciousness of one’s daily waste creating habits!

Different bin colors and their use | HVNS Inhouse Garbage Guide
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