Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trash Disposal

You know, it's not all fun and games here in Germany. There are real issues to be concerned about when it comes to integrating into the local populace. For example, trash pickup.

Garbage disposal is a whole different world here in Germany. It's not a simple matter of taking the trash out to the curb or dragging the voluntary recycling bin out there too. No, here in Germany it's a major process that all revolves around mandatory environmental recycling.

First, we don't just have a trash can. We have three, specifically different trash cans. Big blue is for clean paper and cardboard products. Brown is for biodegradable trash. Gray is for what they call "residual" garbage; stuff that has no recyclable capabilities. That might sound simple enough but on top of that there's also the yellow bag. That's a bag that you put your plastic and aluminum/metal objects. Everything from plastic trash bags to plastic soda bottles to vegetable cans. Now, if you followed all that you may be asking yourself what about glass products. Well, most glass bottles here are returnable and are expected to be handled as such. A case of beer bottles, with plastic carrying case has a $5 deposit so nothing to throw away. But, there's plenty of bottles that aren't returnable and for those there are special dumping stations in every town for their disposal. Again, it's not quite that simple though. When you get to the glass bottle disposal areas, there's a separate container for green, brown and clear glass. Beyond all this there are things that do not fit any of these categories; electronic devices, broken glass, ceramics etc. These items have a special, special area that you must take them to for disposal.

Here's our trash bins. Whoever this Jakob Becker is, he's raking in the Euros. His name is on almost every trash can, garbage tip, disposal unit and dumpster in Germany. At least in this area.

When we lived here before, 87-91, recycling was strictly voluntary. Now it is very much mandated and there's a stiff fine if you're discovered to be a habitual cheat on what you put in your trash cans. It's not like the garbage man is checking every bin but the yellow bag is a clear, see through yellow plastic bag (hence the name) so he and your neighbors can see if you're garbage bamboozler.

On top of all this there's a very specific pickup schedule for the various trash cans/yellow bags. Blue is picked up every four weeks. Yellow bag every other week. Gray and brown alternate week to week. There's a printed schedule that dictates each city/town/village pickup days. It's a bit complex and if there's any question it's a simple matter of looking out on the street in the morning to see what the neighbors put out.

We're not sure if this is a Weilerbach service or common in most towns but once a month, Saturday morning, a truck drives through the town ringing a bell. He drives very slowly giving people an opportunity to respond. If you have large items for the trash, including appliances, he'll stop and throw them on his truck. It's kind of a "Bring out your dead" scenario.

Here in Weilerbach our trash is picked up on Tuesdays so our strategy sessions for garbage removal takes place on Monday night. The good thing about this meeting of the minds, so that we know which trash to put out in the morning, is that it's greatly enhanced with a couple of local Pils, Bischoff (green bottle) or Bitburger (brown bottle). Trash and recycling etiquette must always remain in the forefront of your 21st century, green consumer thoughts.


  1. I LOVE it!! As a Master Recycler, it's practically second nature in our household. I do appreciate that they're tough on those "garbage bamboozlers" out there!!

  2. The bring your dead out comment is funny. That is so neat that they go around ringing a bell.

  3. yes there is a driver, and then the guy in the passenger seat has a hand held bell like you see on the movies and he is ringing it, and they drive real slow and stop and pick up stuff, too funny, but practical

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