Germany pays great attention to ecological issues, which are now more urgent than ever. You will not see piles of litter, thrown away elsewhere. However, it may be a bit puzzling to understand the system of dealing with garbage in Germany at first.
Nearly thirty millions tons of garbage are produced in Germany every year. No wonder, a very urgent problem of what to do with all this stuff arises. For such purposes a specific system, Green Dot, was adopted in Germany. It’s necessary to admit that it turned out to be a very effective instrument in struggling for better ecology. Green Dot obliges entrepreneurs and retailers use less packaging, because the bigger amount of packaging, the more they have to pay for recycling it. This had stimulated vendors to dramatically decrease using of packaging, which led to reduction of amount of garbage for 1 million tons per year since the adoption of the system.
The key element in Green Dot is that all litter is being sorted by residents themselves. Let’s have a closer look at the process.
A glass is the simplest example to begin with. Generally, all glass is sorted according to its colour. You can see different bins for collecting brown, green or clear glass near every house. You can recycle any time except of so called quiet period otherwise your efforts may result in unpleasant misunderstanding with your neighbours. Note that materials like china, ceramics, wine corks cannot be deposited in glass bins. They are collected separately.
To facilitate understanding the bins are painted in various colours: yellow, green, brown, blue and grey. Sometimes the whole bin is painted, sometimes only the lid. The system of colour coding differs throughout the municipalities. A bin of a certain colour can be absent near your accommodation. Or a blue container is not meant for depositing paper. To solve the problem you can store, say, plastic rubbish in a yellow box and put it outside to throw away in accordance with a specified timetable. The locations where these bags are collected include a store or a kiosk.
Paper is another material that is recycled. Paper waste is deposited in blue bins. But you can’t throw tissues with paper. In case a blue container is absent in your house you’ll definitely find one in oyur neighbours. When you throw away paper and cardboard packages or paper bags we recommend you make sure there are no plastic elements inside since they shouldn’t be deposited with paper litter.
Products made of a several materials are often used in the household. This type of rubbish as well as plastic, aluminum, polystyrene, cans, tinplate, empty spray cans should be collected either in yellow bin or a yellow bag. You are not required to put separate items inside each other. All the rubbish is sorted by hand on the plants so to facilitate the work of other people rinse the cans before throwing them.
Another category that remains is biological waste. It is responsible for 50% of the total waste in Germany. Leftover food, peels, kitchen scraps, coffee filters, garden waste, tea bags belong to biological waste. Throw all this rubbish into brown containers. All the bio stuff is recycled in a way to receive energy due to a natural fermenting process. The only unpleasant thing is the smell so don’t keep brown bins too close to your house. Special service monitors the situation and bio waste is regularly taken away especially in summer.
Sometimes it happens there is no brown bin and a compost heap cannot be made it is allowed to deposit bio waste in a grey bin in your household. Personal hygiene items, tissues, cigarette butts, old household objects, nylon stockings, textiles go to grey bins. Everything you throw into grey containers goes directly to the incinerator.
A category that needs a separate consideration is a so called hazardous waste. The items of this category do not meet the criteria mentioned earlier. Adhesives, disinfectants, corrosives, thinners, insecticides, fluorescent tubes, batteries, cans of paint, acids, etc are treated in a special way.
Usually a message from a local municipality comes announcing the place and time the truck appears to collect these items. You must put the rubbish on a special site and the service will take it away. Do not throw the hazardous waste into grey bins otherwise it will be incinerated releasing enormously poisonous gases. By the way batteries are deposited separately. In many shops and stores small bins are installed specially for disposed batteries.
In case you do have some sort of waste that can’t be included into the abovementioned categories, for example, an old chairs or a sofa, there is a possibility to store it at certain places where miscellaneous things (Sonstige or Sperrmüll) are collected. As a rule these items are taken away by municipality. But the reality is that a lot of private dealers regularly monitor the territory in search of such objects and take them for repair and resale. So municipalities even benefit from such situation since they aren’t occupied with the problems of recycling.
The waste recycling system in Germany includes Recyclinghofs, a remote area where you can deliver your Spermüll independently by a car. These places are well equipped and workers consult everyone if any problem appears. There you can dispose of paper, cans, electronic and electrical products, plastic, batteries, furniture, glass, garden waste and things made of wood.
Waste recycling system
In Germany every citizen is deeply involved in the waste recycling system. For foreigners or newcomers it is often not easy to get used to the existing order. The obligation of each person is to produce a minimum possible amount of waste. Here we would like to give you some piece of advice for your personal waste treatment.
First, purchase a basket and buy foodstuffs at the outdoor markets. Paper bags can be used multiple times so don’t throw them away after the first use. Buying eggs bring an egg box with you. Don’t buy plastic carry bags offered by the supermarkets. Purchase instead an ordinary cotton bag and take it when you go shopping. Take advantage of reusable containers to store food. Prefer products marked with a Green Dot. It means a producer takes part in financing recycling measures. Avoid products with excess packaging.
Well, we made clear what waste and where should be put to, finally the last thing you have to know is when to place you full bins for collection. Each area has a specified day for waste collection. The precise dates can be found at you registration office or newsletter. If it is too difficult just observe your neighbours and check both dates and colours of bins.
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