Separate waste properly: yellow bag, residual waste, paper or where els

Whether grey bin, yellow sack or recyclables bin, glass container or compost heap – separating waste has long been part of everyday household life. But the colourful variety of bins does not necessarily make separating easier, and when sorting, questions arise time and again: Should yoghurt pots only be washed clean before being sent to the recycling collection? Can bottles with lids end up in the bottle bank? Should packaging without a green dot also end up in the yellow bag? Can I compost the bioplastic bag? We give answers.

Yellow bag / yellow bin

This includes packaging made of plastic, tinplate and aluminium – for example foil, tubes, cans or plastic bags – as well as so-called composite packaging (such as beverage cartons).

Since 2009 it is no longer decisive whether the Green Dot is on the packaging or not. This is because all manufacturers must have joined a dual system that takes the used packaging for recycling. In the meantime, various dual systems, which operate with different labels, are competing with each other. In other words: even if there is no sign on the packaging in future, consumers should always dispose of their packaging waste via the “yellow bin” or the “yellow bag”.

Empty packaging does not have to be rinsed, spoonfuls are sufficient. The packaging also includes so-called service packaging, which is filled directly in the store. This includes coffee to go cups, the polystyrene box for take-away meals, foils and wrapping paper from the butcher’s shop or cheese stand.

Packging made of paper or glass is collected in paper bins / containers or glass containers, see below.

Since 1.1.2019 the packaging law is valid. It is intended to help ensure that more packaging – especially plastic packaging – is recycled and that manufacturers produce packaging that can actually be recycled.  It remains to be seen whether this will result in less packaging waste and thus relieve consumers financially.

Unfortunately, time and again waste is thrown into the yellow bag that absolutely does not belong there, such as used diapers or other contaminated waste.

Recycling bin instead of yellow sack / yellow bin

Dortmund, Kamen, Unna are just a few of the cities that now have a recycling bin. Not only packaging made of plastic, metal or composite materials (see above) may be placed in this bin, but also the waste that bears the somewhat complicated name “non-packaging of the same material”. This means that the broken plastic mixing bowl, the old toothbrush or a discarded cooking pot may be put into the new bin. Everything made of plastic, metal or composite materials should no longer end up in the residual waste, but should be collected separately as recyclable material.

In some cities, waste wood and/or small electrical appliances are also collected in this bin. Please ask your local waste advisor or the homepage of your waste disposal company what exactly is allowed in the bin in your city!

Glass container

All disposable glass bottles or jars are collected here. Even if it sometimes looks like that to spectators: Separately collected green, amber and white glass is not thrown back together during transport! The disposal vehicles have separate chambers for the different coloured glasses. By the way: blue or other coloured glass belongs in the collection container for green glass. Lids made of plastic or metal belong in the yellow bin. However, it does not matter if you have forgotten to unscrew them. They can easily be taken out and recycled in modern glass sorting plants.

Does not go with the old glass: earthenware bottles are taboo for glass containers, however, they are to be disposed of as packaging via the yellow bin / yellow bag. Light bulbs or fireproof glassware are also not allowed in the collection containers. Ceramics and porcelain also interfere with glass recycling. All this waste belongs in the residual waste bin.

The deposit on certain disposable beverage bottles makes it unnecessary to go to the glass container. Since the beginning of 2003 there has been a deposit on one-way glass packaging for carbonated soft drinks, mineral water and beer; these bottles must be returned to the retailer.

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