Waste Separation in Germany

How can I recycle?

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The German system for waste separation is so complicated that the Germans themselves often do not completely understand it. The various colors and containers available mean mistakes are common during waste separation. Because of these little missteps, the employees or sorting personnel at the recycling facilities have to re-sort the waste. If we all separate waste properly, this extra effort could be avoided and our environment would be better preserved.

A large part of the waste generated in Germany is reused and composted, which saves resources and protects the nature. Germany is even set to become the world champion of waste separation. However, the recycling industry and the combustion manufacturers benefit from the waste and also compete in their businesses. That is why there are people who doubt the purpose of the waste separation and would happily discuss the topic. To avoid creating waste is, therefore, still the easiest way to tackle the issue.

The Waste Separation System

What goes where?

Reusable bottles and cans (deposit)

Glass bottles

Special waste, electrical waste, bulky waste and old clothing

How can I reduce waste?


Special waste, in particular, harms nature and our health gravely and must be disposed of separately from household waste. Because of the harmful ingredients, special waste is also often referred to as "hazardous waste".