This is how you separate waste correctly.

Yellow bin, organic waste bin, general refuse. What belongs to which bin?

Let us be real, how many people in Germany really know what should be thrown into the yellow bin or what should NOT be thrown into the yellow bin? Sadly, fifty percent of our waste lands in the wrong bin. In the case of the yellow bin, 60% of the waste is wrongly disposed of. Hier is a short guide:


In this bin or the yellow bin liner we mainly throw in packaging. More specifically, they are called lightweight packaging. Everything that is made out of plastic, metal, composite and natural materials and used to protect a product belongs in the yellow bin. Included in this group would also be plastic cups (if one still uses some), sliced meat, cheese and ice cream packaging; aluminum foil, cosmetic packaging made of plastic, food tins, juice cartons, plastic bags and styrofoam. Also included are things like bottle caps, corks from bottles and squeezed out toothpaste tubes. Rule of thumb is: different materials should be separated from each other, i.e. foil lids from yogurt cups, screw-caps from PET bottles, the cover and container of sliced meats and cheeses, the toothpaste tube from its cap – never slot things together. Make sure to rinse things at least once with water to make things easier and get rid of smells. So, you see, not all plastics belong in the yellow bin. For some reason toothbrushes, children’s toys and similar things still end up in yellow bins.

Consequence: these things are separated and burned instead of being properly recycled.


ONLY GLASS belongs in this bin BUT not all every kind of glass. Broken or old drinking glasses are not supposed to be disposed of in the container for used glass. This is strictly for glass packing and bottles only. And please, sort them out according to colour as well! A lone green bottle in the white glass container can lead to the whole container NOT being properly recycled as a result. Caps and lids of glasses and bottles need to be sorted out separately and need to be disposed of in the yellow bin or yellow bin liner. If you forget that bit, it would not be the end of the world as the recyclers can remove caps and lids with a magnet. But what about bottle labels? Paper on bottles as well as any plastic or metal attached to the bottles by adhesives can stay on the bottles as these will be removed anyway.


Whenever possible we should not be avoiding having food leftovers but if this is not possible at all, then the following applies: all food leftovers (from human or animal) are to be disposed of in the organic waste bin. You can include your used teabags, used loose tea leaves, coffee grounds together with the filter, dairy product leftovers such as from yogurt and quark but never throw milk into the bin. When it comes to cheese leftovers, please be mindful to only throw natural cheese rind into the bin. You can also throw in kitchen towels, tissues, paper napkins as well paper bags or bags made out of biodegradable material used to collect organic was. With regards to the biodegradable material, different counties have different standards as to what is acceptable and some will sort these bags out. Hair and feather are also allowed in the organic waste bin as well as wood shavings and sawdust from untreated wood. Litter for small animals are also allowed in the organic waste bin as long as this is made of biodegradable material.

Green rubbish such as from garden patches, trees, bushes as well as flower soil, potting compost, hay, straw, foliage, brushwood and lawn cuttings are all allowed in the organic waste bin. Why does this make sense? These materials can all be further utilised in a biogas plant. In these plants, microorganisms break down the biomass and generate flammable methane gas. This biogas can be used for power and heat production.

Lastly, the compost that is produced from the organic waste is also used by farmers as fertilisers on their farm fields.


Products with hazardous ingredients are not allowed to be disposed of in the general refuse because such chemicals need to be properly disposed of to prevent pollutants and contaminants from getting out into the environment. Such hazardous waste can be surrendered at designated places in your county. As for batteries, supermarkets are glad to take them off you.


As you have noticed, once you separate waste properly there is really not much left for general refuse. In this bin you can throw in ashes, animal faeces, litter; dirty papers, hygiene products, nappies; vacuum cleaner bags, used light bulbs, dried up sharpies, cigarette butts, old photographs, broken porcelain or glass.