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Mülltrennung Müll richtig trennen so geht's

Waste separation - How to separate waste correctly

How does actually work Waste separation makes sense? Organic waste, recyclables, residual waste... There are so many different types of waste that can accumulate when you're not looking for the Zero Waste Lifestyle lives. In this article, I would like to give you an overview of how to separate your waste correctly so that you can keep your Separate waste correctly can. Let's go!

Here is another short Table of contents about the article:

  1. Reasons
  2. Recyclables
  3. Glass waste
  4. Waste paper
  5. Organic waste
  6. Residual waste
  7. Hazardous waste
  8. Summary

Why waste separation is so important

Waste separation - Statistics Germany garbage
This overview of waste in Germany was compiled by created

We have been recycling our waste in Germany since the 1980s. But why do we actually have to separate our waste properly? The answer is clear: the Plastics recycling is a very costly and resource-intensive process for conserving raw materials from nature, some of which are limited. In order to minimize the effort required to recycle plastic and the like, we carefully separate our household waste into different garbage cans, which I will explain in more detail in a moment. If we didn't separate our waste, all raw materials would be treated equally and ultimately incinerated. In addition, hazardous substances from medicines and batteries would be treated in the same way as non-hazardous waste. This would do no less harm to our nature than the Plastic waste in the environment.

It is therefore extremely important that we reuse the raw materials we receive as much as possible.

We therefore divide our waste into the following Categories one:

  • Recyclables (yellow garbage can, recycled as much as possible)
  • Paper (blue garbage can, will be recycled)
  • Glass (glass container (white, brown, green), is recycled)
  • Organic waste (brown or green garbage can, will be composted)
  • Residual waste (also called household waste, black/grey garbage can, is incinerated)
  • Hazardous waste (is incinerated or disposed of)

Well-sorted waste is also easy on your wallet. This is because waste disposal companies pass on higher costs to the consumer due to the increased effort involved in sorting the waste. But what exactly belongs in which garbage can? The answer can be found here step by step.

What belongs in the recycling garbage can (yellow garbage can)

Waste separation - separate waste correctly (garbage cans)

Basically, it can be said that you can use protective packaging made of metal, plastic and composite materials. dispose of in the yellow garbage can must. The packaging should be empty, but rinsing is not necessary. Here are some examples of things you should dispose of in the yellow bag or garbage can. I have put the plastic-free alternative in brackets in each case so that you can Avoid plastic waste can:

  • Yogurt cup (Alternative: yogurt from the jar)
  • Cheese packaging (Alternative: put the cheese in containers you have brought with you)
  • Tetra-Paks (Alternative: milk from the glass bottle or Make macadamia milk yourself)
  • Shampoo / shower gel bottles (Alternative: Natural soap in one bar)
  • Nets of potatoes, oranges & co. (Alternative: Unpacked in the Fruit and vegetable net buy)
  • Packaging films e.g. from toilet paper (Alternative: butt spray or unpacked toilet paper buy)
  • Styrofoam parts from packaging (Alternative: buy second hand goods)
  • Cans & Crown Corks (Alternative: drinks from a glass or from drinks you have brought with you) Drinking bottle drink
  • Empty toothpaste tube (Alternative: Make toothpaste yourself)

This list can go on forever. As consumers, we don't have to rinse out yoghurt pots, for example, but they should be empty. Furthermore, we must not put them inside each other, as all plastic parts have to be recycled individually and the effort would be unnecessarily increased.

Waste separation in the glass containers

Separate waste correctly - waste separation in garbage cans and containers
Glass is disposed of by color in containers - However, there are exceptions

If you want to separate your waste properly, you must Throw glass waste into the matching green, brown or white container. But even with glass, caution is advised - because not all glass is the same.

Questions & answers on separating glass waste

It is easier to clarify frequently asked questions about used glass disposal and discuss exceptions than to list the glass that goes into the glass containers. Below are the most important tips and information on the disposal of all types of glass.

Which glasses belong in the bottle bank?

You should dispose of ordinary drinks bottles (deposit-free), preserving jars or even cosmetic jars in the bottle banks if you want to separate your waste properly and do something good for the environment.

What about blue or other different colored glass bottles?

Of course, there is also blue, yellow or red glass. In this case, you don't have to despair in front of the glass containers, but can simply throw this glass into the green container, as green glass is compatible with the other colors. With white glass, on the other hand, other colors would lead to contamination.

Do labels & closures cause problems?

Egg chains are removed from the glasses in the recycling process, but you should remove caps in the household and usually dispose of them in the yellow bag. Corks from wine bottles can be disposed of in residual waste or upcycled into coasters for kitchen pots, for example.

What does not belong in the glass containers?

In addition to bottle tops, the following items also do not belong in the bottle banks:

  • Ceramics & Porcelain (belong in the residual waste)
  • Window writing (also belong in the residual waste)
  • Light bulbs (normal light bulbs belong in the residual waste, energy-saving bulbs in the hazardous waste)
  • Christmas balls (belong in the residual waste instead)
  • Drinking glasses (due to a different composition, drinking glasses belong in the residual waste)

Do I have to rinse the jars before disposing of them?

As with plastic yogurt pots and the like, you don't have to rinse the jars completely. On the contrary: save the Water and save the environment, because enough water is used in the recycling process.

Separating waste paper - What goes into the blue garbage can?

Paper is made from the natural resource wood. We should therefore handle it with care and separate paper waste correctly. There is a blue garbage can for the disposal of waste paper. But what is waste paper?

  • Cardboard (shipping) boxes, as well as paper packaging
  • Envelopes without window (Windows belong in the recycling garbage can)
  • Newspapers, books and magazines
  • Corrugated board
  • Paper documents
  • Egg cartons
  • Paper bags
  • Glossy paper
  • Wrapping paper

If the green dot is printed on the packaging, you can always dispose of it in the waste paper. However, the green dot has not been a relevant factor for many years and does not have to be printed on the packaging. However, if it is printed on the packaging, you can be sure that the waste belongs in the blue garbage can.

What must not be disposed of in the waste paper?

Of course, there are also many things that are mistaken for paper waste and are wrongly disposed of in the blue garbage can. If you want to separate your waste properly, you should dispose of the following items differently:

  • Used napkins, kitchen towels & paper plates (residual waste)
  • Wax paper (residual waste)
  • Wallpapers (residual waste)
  • Thermal paper receipt (residual waste)
  • Tetra-Paks (recyclables)
  • Glued posters (residual waste)
  • Stickers & Post-It's (residual waste)

Not all paper is the same. However, this information should help you to separate your waste correctly in the future.

Organic waste - What belongs in the brown & green garbage can?

Separate organic waste correctly - What belongs in the green garbage can?
Separating organic waste correctly - what actually belongs in the green/brown garbage can?

You can dispose of plant and animal waste in the organic waste garbage can (green or brown garbage can). Balcony plants, eggshells and fruit and vegetable waste, for example. It is important to know that you should not collect organic waste in a plastic bag or in a bioplastic bin liner. Either way, these bags have to be sorted out in the recycling process. The alternative: either you compost in the garden or in the kitchenuse a paper bin liner or fold your own bin liner from newspaper.

For proper waste separation, dispose of the following items in the organic waste, for example:

  • Coffee & Tea Filter
  • Food waste (fish, sausage, cheese, bread, etc.)
  • Eggshells
  • Balcony plants
  • Fruit and vegetable waste
  • Paper bags/newspaper from organic waste
  • Dairy products
  • Lawn clippings
  • Shrubs/branches

What doesn't belong in organic waste?

As with all other types of waste disposal, there are of course many exceptions for organic waste that do not belong in the green/brown garbage can. Here are a few examples and, in brackets, the variant with which you can separate your waste correctly:

  • Cigarette butts (Residual waste - see also Cigarette butts in the environment)
  • Disposable diapers (Residual waste - see the article on avoidance Diaper free - diapering without diapers)
  • Cardboard/Paper (waste paper)
  • Wood products (residual waste)
  • Dog excrement (residual waste due to pathogens, among other things)
  • Oil & paint residue (hazardous waste)
  • Metal (larger parts to the scrap yard, small parts to the residual waste)
  • Plastic (recyclables)

This list could go on forever. But once you've worked through this article, you'll know exactly what goes where and how to separate your waste properly.

Residual waste - What belongs in the gray/black garbage can?

Residual waste is waste that cannot be reused or recycled. In other words, everything that is not disposed of in the yellow, green and blue garbage cans, in the glass container or in hazardous waste. As a rule, the gray or black garbage can accounts for the largest proportion of our total waste. To help you dispose of your waste correctly in the near future, here are some examples of things that belong in the residual waste:

  • Tableware & Ceramics
  • Pads, Tampons & Diapers
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Incandescent lamps (Energy-saving lamps are hazardous waste)
  • Toys of any kind
  • Window glass
  • Ball pen
  • Drinking glasses
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Chewing gums
  • Floppy disks (CDs are hazardous waste)
  • Lighters

And what doesn't belong in the residual waste?

The term residual waste is very general, which is why the right things don't always end up in the black garbage can by mistake. Here I would like to list a few things that don't belong in the residual waste, but nevertheless end up there more often:

What is hazardous waste?

Separate waste correctly - waste separation Batteries are hazardous waste
Batteries do not belong in the yellow bag, but in hazardous waste!

What is hazardous waste and how can I separate it correctly? Hazardous waste is items that contain harmful substances such as mercury and therefore need to be disposed of separately. Hazardous waste is, for example, explosive, pathogenic, hazardous to health, hazardous to water or hazardous to the air. When separating waste, the following items, for example, count as hazardous waste:

  • Fluorescent tubes (return to an electrical retailer or a local recycling center)
  • Nail polish bottles (nail polish remover/turpentine, shake, pour the toxic liquid into a jam jar, put the clean bottle in the glass container, put the lid in the plastic waste, take the jam jar to a hazardous waste collection point)
  • Electrical waste (see Dispose of electrical appliances correctly)
  • Acids (waste disposal company)
  • Batteries (supermarkets, gas stations, electronics retailers...)
  • Cork (Disposal at recycling centers or at the NABU cork campaign)
  • CD's (Plastic wrapping for recycling, CDs collected at recycling centers)

Separate waste correctly - it's easy, isn't it?

Once you have dealt with it a little, waste separation is really uncomplicated and you have learned something for life. Because only very few people know how to separate waste properly. As unfortunate as this is, there is still a lot of educational work to be done, especially when it comes to waste separation. It is also important to make the topic Environmental protection in school and explain how to separate waste properly. But it is even better to prevent waste from being produced in the first place and to dispose of it after the Zero Waste Lifestyle to live. Of course, we can't avoid waste altogether, but we should at least dispose of it in the right garbage can.

Do you have any questions, suggestions or your own experiences with waste separation that you would like to share with us? Then I look forward to your comment under this article.

Stay clean,

PS: Make sure you also read my article about the Plastic production through. As a small thank you for your visit to CareElite, I would like to offer you give away my e-book "Get rid of the garbage" here. Have fun!

Waste separation - How to separate waste properly
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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

13 thoughts on “Mülltrennung – Wie du Müll richtig trennst”

  1. Christian Offenberg

    Perhaps you could add for the disposal of wine corks that there are collection points for corks. Mostly it is wine shops that collect the corks and forward them to the right places. But maybe there are other collection points.

    1. Hello Christian!
      Great, thanks for the tip! It's really crazy how much cork is burned every year.
      Many greetings

  2. Wow. Super informative article. I actually always try to separate garbage properly. However, your article has shown me many opportunities for improvement.
    Thanks for the guide !

  3. So everything actually goes into the yellow bag, although it actually says: packaging made of two types of plastic, plastic packaging for cheese or other fatty foods cannot be recycled at all? So that's where the high numbers of yellow bag waste that is not recycled but incinerated come from? (70% apparently since China no longer takes our garbage).
    I was for 2.5 years no longer right in Germany so I ask 😀 I know that in other countries is recycled quite differently and much more may not in the recycling garbage can.

    1. Hi Jule! Exactly, but that can also vary from region to region, that is unfortunately not a completely uniform system.
      Stay clean,

  4. Separation into the individual containers is very important. It's a pity that some people have a hard time with it. After all, the disposers themselves have to deal with the impurities.

    1. Hi Mia! Yes, that's absolutely right. The problem is that people want to get rid of garbage as quickly as possible and without much effort. Thus, for example, batteries sometimes fly into the plastic waste, instead of returning them normally.
      Stay clean,

  5. Thank you for an educational article! The instructions for the garbage cans should remain hung at each collection point, because our neighbors leave their construction waste here. With the expert help, he large pile of garbage was disposed of quite quickly in our case, so that no bacteria find themselves at home here in the summertime:) Thank you!

  6. Dear Christoph,
    I think it is great that you are so committed to a clean environment.
    I come from Hamburg, but grew up in a boarding school in Lower Saxony in my youth. In Lower Saxony, we were really taught to separate garbage CORRECTLY, Hamburg lagged behind comparatively.
    That was over 20 years ago now and I can hardly believe that separating waste still causes such difficulties, is not separated properly, is not firmly anchored in people's minds.
    For example, stacked yogurt pots and their unseparated lids, handkerchiefs, cellulose in general, which are always found in the paper garbage can, toothbrushes in the yellow garbage can, and, and, and
    Sometimes I feel a sense of powerlessness.
    Whether I turn times to the senate, which should commit the different responsible ones to it, per house, a striking (not everyone can read, or speaks our language) shrink-wrapped foil in the garbage room of the respective house, to have to fasten and each house obliges to have to please itself that. It cannot go nevertheless that after 40 years, the municipalities still do not know, how one separates. And certainly, things are in the network, but those who are only marginally interested in the whole thing, do not look for it.
    Once again back to Lower Saxony in my youth. There, the yellow garbage can, that was at the end of the 80s, was emptied by the city when there was chaos in the garbage can.
    Certainly, the consumer, the consumer, should be self-responsible.
    Unfortunately, that is conditionally so and there I find that the policy, their children lets hang! The should, party independent, ensure that their children are properly educated. The whole issue makes me so nervous and always stunned. I think it's great that you are committed, all love, Emily

    1. Hey Emily! Thanks for your great feedback. Yes, you're right about that. Everyone MUST know how to separate trash properly. That the waste separation differs somewhat from region to region, complicates the whole thing unfortunately....
      But cheer up, we'll all continue to cheer up 🙂 .
      Many greetings,

  7. Thank you for the post on waste separation. My brother needs to plan for food waste disposal at his cafe and buy a grease trap. Good to know that residual and hazardous waste are mostly incinerated.

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