What is waste separation

Separate rubbish correctly: What to consider when recycling

There is a lot of rubbish in the household - and it needs to be carefully separated. Because in the event of a violation, there is a risk of trouble, extra work and costs. Are you sure that you are disposing of everything correctly?

According to the Federal Statistical Office (DESTATIS), Germans produce around 37.8 million tons of household waste (also known as municipal waste) each year. This corresponds to an average of 455 kilograms of household waste per inhabitant. The proportion of separately collected waste makes up the majority. The typical household waste is, however, almost completely recycled, up to two thirds if it is recycled.

Which garbage goes in which bin?

With some types of waste, it is not easy to decide which bin to put it in. There are generally six different types of waste:

  • Residual waste / household waste
  • Organic waste
  • Waste paper
  • Waste glass
  • Recyclables / yellow bin / yellow sack
  • Hazardous waste / bulky waste

Does waste separation really make sense?

Separation of waste makes sense. Contrary to what many consumers think, in the end it doesn't all get thrown together. According to the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), over 67 percent of the treated and recycled municipal waste can be recycled. The recycling rate for packaging, on the other hand, is only 15.6 percent, according to a study by the Association for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. There are various reasons for this, such as the composition of the packaging made from different types of plastic. With paper, glass and metal, the recyclability is significantly better. The recycling rates here are over 80 percent.

Why should you separate the garbage?

Recycling saves resources and protects the environment. In addition, correct waste separation prevents waste costs from rising. Subsequent sorting at the disposal company is very time-consuming. The costs for this are then imposed on the consumers.

Is waste separation required by law?

Since 2015, private households have been obliged (recycling law) to separate their waste. Accordingly, a wrong or missing separation is an administrative offense and therefore punishable. In the event of an infringement, either the garbage cans will not be emptied or a fine will be imposed on the private household. The latter can amount to up to 5,000 euros.

Which glass belongs in which container?

There are also some hurdles when it comes to glass, which is supposedly easy to assess. What should we do with blue bottles, for example, when there are only containers for white glass, amber glass and green glass?

Colorful bottles go into the green glass. This mixture can cope with the largest proportion of so-called false colors when melted.

Drinking glasses must not go with the old glass

Drinking glasses, lead crystal, window glass or mirrors do not belong in the glass container, but in the residual waste. Their material mix is ​​very different from ordinary drinking bottles. Disposal in the glass container would lead to severe contamination of the waste glass. Earthenware and porcelain crockery also have no place in the waste glass container and are disposed of in the residual waste.

Remove closures?

The caps on bottles and preserving jars can be disposed of separately with the packaging waste. That means, they go in the recycling bin or in the yellow bin or the yellow sack. Modern sorting machines can also sort out the lids of the glass packaging. They don't even have to be unscrewed.

Paper on bottles and other adhesions made of plastic or metal, on the other hand, may remain on. They are removed during processing.

Bottle corks are also recycled separately. They can be handed in at wine merchants or cork collection points and later processed into insulation material. If the closures are made of plastic, they belong in the yellow bin.

No claim to glass containers

In some apartment buildings there are also special bins for waste glass. However, there is no entitlement to this. And the setting up of glass containers in the community is not offered by the garbage disposal companies everywhere.

When disposing of used glass, pay attention to the specified disposal times. These are usually outside of the rest periods. Those who dispose of old glass at night are threatened with a warning from the landlord.

Not all paper belongs to the waste paper

There are also a few things to consider when it comes to paper. So do not belong to the waste paper:

  • Fax and thermal printer paper
  • impregnated and coated papers
  • Paper towels
  • Pizza boxes
  • Carbon paper
  • Styrofoam
  • Wallpaper scraps

Even paper that is soiled by food or paint is no longer recyclable. Therefore, you should only throw empty paper packaging into the waste paper collection without any remains. On the other hand, traces of earth do not matter.

Can used napkins be disposed of in the waste paper?

Napkins, on the other hand, can be disposed of in the waste paper. Because like normal paper, kitchen towels and serviettes contain so-called wet strength agents. This prevents them from dissolving in direct contact with water.

But: If the cloths are heavily soiled, smaller amounts end up in the organic waste. Many heavily soiled paper towels - including handkerchiefs and hygiene papers - are best disposed of with the residual waste.

All leftover food in the organic waste or on the compost?

In normal household quantities, raw, cooked or spoiled food can be put in the organic waste bin, as can meat and sausage products, fish bones and animal bones. They are best wrapped in newspaper. The Federal Environment Ministry points this out. Remnants of bread and other baked goods are also allowed in this bin. Dairy products such as leftovers from yoghurt and quark as well as cheese including the natural rind, tea bags, tea leftovers as well as coffee grounds and coffee filters, as well as the peels of apples, pears and potatoes. But not milk. It must be disposed of via the drain.

Waste separation: You can dispose of this in the organic waste bin. (Source: t-online)

It is better not to land this food on the compost in the garden. They attract rats.

What is allowed in the yellow sack or the recycling bin?

The packaging marked with the green dot must, depending on the municipality, in the yellow sack or green bin or recycling bin. But other empty packaging is also disposed of in this way. Packaging made of plastic, metal, composite materials and natural materials is thrown into the bins or into the sack. It is best to separate the lids and foils from the packaging and do not stick empty packaging inside each other. Paper or glass have no place in the bin.

In addition to the packaging, everyday objects made of metal, plastic or composite material can also be disposed of in the recycling bin.

You only need to dispose of bags and bottles "spoon-clean". Rinsing them with extra water worsens the environmental balance.

Electronic waste does not belong in the household waste

For the sake of the environment, batteries should be disposed of properly: many supermarkets and drugstores have recycling boxes for this. There are collection points for electronic waste such as the disused hair dryer, for example at recycling centers. Dealers also accept old devices when buying new ones. In addition, some supermarkets already offer boxes for old small electrical appliances.

Give old clothes to the correct recipient

You should be selective when donating old clothes and shoes. "If you want your donation or the proceeds to go to the needy, you should look carefully to whom you give it," advises the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia. "Behind door-to-door collections or containers there are often companies that make a profit for themselves from the donation."

However, if the clothing is too badly damaged or made of an inferior material (polyester, acrylic), it can often not be further processed or passed on. This is more and more the case because of the cheap textiles. The pieces then have to be disposed of - at the expense of the collection points.

Separate waste: Dispose of hazardous and bulky waste

Much more, such as renovation waste, residues of chemicals or energy-saving lamps, are accepted in many places at the recycling center or collective transports. Bulky waste is usually picked up free of charge after prior registration, and in some municipalities there are even semi-annual to annual collection campaigns. The municipalities or the local waste disposal company can provide information on the dates and addresses of the various collection points.

Be careful with energy-saving lamps

Caution should be exercised with energy-saving lamps. If they break, toxic mercury vapors spread through the room. It is imperative that you keep your distance from the danger point. Although the gases are not visible, they are extremely hazardous to human and animal health. They can cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system. Energy-saving lamps are therefore classified as hazardous waste. How to properly dispose of a broken energy-saving lamp.

Separate garbage with a system

As useful as waste separation is, it takes up a lot of space in the apartment. You need a separate container for each type of waste - and often in the kitchen. This is primarily waste marked for recycling, compostable green waste and residual waste.

Modern kitchens already have a recycling system in the cupboards: the cupboard door is opened, the containers swing out or are pulled out.

The systems can also be retrofitted. Alternatively, you can simply use multi-part trash cans with several containers. The containers should be easy to close so that no unpleasant smells can spread or vermin are attracted.