Separating rubbish

There are valuable raw materials in your household waste that can be recycled. Separating your rubbish can save real money.

How to separate and dispose of your rubbish correctly

Household waste has many valuable raw materials that can be recycled. Separating your rubbish correctly can save you real money. In contrast, improper disposal can lead to increased costs for your landlord, your fellow tenants and you. It also creates a nuisance for everyone when rubbish is left lying around or ends up in the neighbour's yard instead of in the bins where it belongs. Here we explain what you need to do to separate your garbage correctly.

What are the different kinds of waste and how do I dispose of them?

  • Organic waste: Waste such as raw fruit and vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells and tea leaves are disposed of in the organic waste or non-recyclable waste bins, depending on local regulations.
  • Glass: There is a difference between recyclable glass and re-useable glass. Re-useable glass can be returned to local retailers. You can dispose of recyclable glass – separated by colour: brown, green and white – in the public glass recycling bins. In many towns and cities this is organised in the same way as other refuse collection.
  • Plastic and metal: Plastic packaging and other packaging bearing the “green point” belong in the general recycling container, which is normally yellow. This is also where metal such as bottle tops, aluminium foil and tin cans go. In many cities you can request yellow refuse bags (so-called “Gelbe Säcke” from city authorities to dispose of your plastic waste.
  • Paper and cardboard: Newspapers, magazines, paper bags, paper packaging, etc. belong in the paper recycling bins. However, wallpaper and greasy paper should be disposed of with non-recyclable waste. Paper coated with plastic, or with water-resistant coatings, should be placed in general recycling containers.
  • Non-recyclable waste: Cooked leftovers, meat and fish leftovers and bones go into the non-recyclable waste bins.
  • Hazardous waste: Medication, cleaning agents, batteries and energy-saving bulbs do not go into the usual waste bins. Medication should be taken back to the chemist’s. Old batteries can be collected and disposed of in supermarkets or drug stores. All other materials should be taken to local refuse collection points.
  • Bulky waste: Bulky waste is simply refuse that is too large to be accepted by regular waste collection. As a guideline: If it doesn’t fit into the bin, it doesn’t belong in the bin. There are several rules you have to follow when disposing of bulky items. You can find out more here.

Practical tip:

  • As a rule, you should empty your bins on a regular basis. This prevents germs and unpleasant smells. Garbage bins should also be cleaned regularly.
  • Each waste bin has a different colour and label, which can be different from city to city. Please bear this in mind when you separate and dispose of your waste.