Confusion about the numerous bins?

Recycling and the issue of plastic waste is big news at the moment – wherever you live. Having lived in the UK and Germany, I’ve noticed that the supermarkets in Germany tend to use far less packaging than UK supermarkets – of course this is just my opinion. All supermarkets need to take a long hard look at what produce really does need to be wrapped in plastic or whether alternative recyclable packaging can be used instead. It has always amazed me that fruit that have its own natural protection (like avocados, bananas and oranges) still needs to be wrapped in plastic as well!

Certainly, both countries have begun to take recycling very seriously as waste sent to landfill is having a profound impact on our environment.

To make it simple for anyone travelling to Germany, glass, plastic, paper, biological and general waste needs to be separated and most regions will have the following bins:


Yellow bin: plastic/aluminium e.g. juice/milk cartons

Blue bin: anything made from paper or cardboard

Brown: garden waste or biological kitchen waste (food leftovers)

General: ceramic, medication, vacuum cleaner bags, nappies


Deposit system

In Germany, the system of charging a deposit on some glass and plastic bottles seems to work really well. This means that you take your bottles back to either the place where you bought your drinks to get a refund on your deposit or an automated bottle refund machine (Pfandrückgabe) found at most supermarkets. All other glass bottles or jars that you didn’t pay a deposit for (Pfand) can be disposed of in the bins provided for glass items.

If you are renting an apartment and have your car with you, it’s worth taking a trip to one of the out-of-town shops selling crates of all sorts of drinks. Again, you’ll pay a deposit which you’ll back once you return the bottles.

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