Germans are very conscious of the environment. As a contribution to the global battle against the growing amounts of garbage, we separate and recycle our trash: Waste bins Grey, yellow, blue and brown. This is not a list of random colors but a guideline for recycling your garbage. When you move into your new home in Germany – be it a shared flat or student halls – you will probably find three or four differently colored trash bins outside of the building. You have to dispose your trash accordingly:

  • Blue: paper, cardboard
  • Brown: compost, such as peels of vegetables, or tea leaves
  • Yellow: cans, plastic, aluminium and tinplate (empty packaging free of leftovers of food or drinks)
  • Grey: residual waste; basically anything that does not match the previous categories
  • Electronic devices, batteries and bulk garbage you have to dispose at local dumping grounds.

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Cash back for bottles and cans
Most glass and plastic bottles as well as cans carry a recycling symbol and are marked with a bar code. The symbol indicates that you can return these containers to a shop and receive some money back (Pfand). In many supermarkets there are return machines. Just put in your empty bottles, one after the other. The machines scan them and will give out a receipt with the amount of money that you can cash in at the cash counter. Get your money back!

Clothes/Shoes that are still in a good condition but that you have outgrown or cannot keep any longer for different reasons can be donated to NGOs such as Caritas or Red Cross. Every organisation has local centres, where you can hand in your used clothes. They organise and distribute them among the needy. Those clothes that are too worn out to be used again are recycled.

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