When I first visited my sponsor in Germany, I noticed they had three trash receptacles in their kitchen. I asked Tom about them and he said they were for recycling. He explained there are three containers for paper, biological waste and everything else.
Well, not quite everything else
There are some things you can’t recycle and mix in with other things such as batteries and glass. What do you do if you have larger things you want to displease of like a couch? Where can you take it? Let’s start from the beginning. To start with, you have three trash containers outside:
1. A big blue container for paper recycling
2. A big brown container for biological recycling
3. A small black container for the “restmuhl”
Did you notice what’s missing? There’s no container for glass, batteries, electrical appliances, oil, lawn mowers etc. Let’s get to them one at a time.
First is the paper recycling container
Anything made of paper or cardboard goes in this container such as newspapers, magazines, wrapping paper, etc. You get the idea. Boxes go here but need to be flattened first. Make sure you take any plastic out of your boxes as only the cardboard and paper go in this container. What’s next?
Second is the brown bio container
This is where you put your potato peels, veggies, bread, meat, etc. Anything that you would like to put on a compost heap goes in this container. Many homes in our neighborhood don’t have bio containers. They use their own compost heaps instead. The biggest problem with this container is in the summer. Let me tell you about our bio container last summer
The problem started when we missed a bio container collection one week in the middle of the summer. Our bio is only collected every other week. That meant we were going to have another two weeks of this container suffering the heat of the summer with rotting food! Yuck!!
After one week, the maggots appeared
We bought some spray to keep the maggot population controlled near the top of the container, but can you imagine it? Four weeks in the sun with rotting food. Eventually, the bio container was picked up and we still had quite a few left over friends in the container. We hosed it out on the grass with soapy water, rinsed, disinfected, more soap, more water until we had the container clean!
That experience made us very vigilant to not miss a bio pickup, especially in the summer! You can miss it in the winter once, but four weeks is a long time so we don’t like missing the bio collections at all. We keep this container far from the house! I would recommend you do the same if you can, or at least away from any open windows. So now that the bio is taken care of, what’s next to go?
Third is the black restmuhl container
I have a big problem with this container. It’s way to small for our family. I mean it is WAY to small. We have zero hope of ever fitting our restmuhl into this container. Muhl is the German word for trash. In my language butchering way, I call this the “rest of the mull” which is probably totally wrong, but it’s an easy way for me to remember what goes in it! But it doesn’t fit!
I know it doesn’t fit, but there’s an alternative
At the city hall (“Rathaus” in German), you can get yellow sacks (“Gelb Sack” in German) that you can stuff your trash into. The yellow sacks are free so just ask for a roll of them. Pick up one for your neighbor too! The yellow sacks are VERY thin and break easily. We use Hefty trash bags from the Commissary and put the Hefty sacks into the Gelb Sacks. I know it’s crazy to double sack your restmuhl, but if you don’t, the yellow sacks WILL break and cause a giant mess. Just put the filled yellow sacks near the street and they will magically disappear on restmuhl collection day. Make sure you have your containers out the night before as they pickup the trash early! What do you do with your other recyclable things like your glass bottles?
Glass bottles have special recycling containers
I think every village has glass-recycling containers. Just ask your landlords or neighbors where they are. Kaufland, in Landstuhl, has several in the parking lot. These containers are divided into three types of glass:
1. Clear glass
2. Brown glass
3. Green glass
Make sure you aren’t putting your glass recycling in the containers during quiet hours. I’ll write more about quiet hours, but it’s basically from 1:00 – 3:00 PM on Sundays and German Holidays and from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM on weekdays. There are a few other things you can’t put in the normal recycling.
Oil and batteries can’t go in your normal recycling
What do I do with oil and batteries? The base-recycling center is the best place. It is near the Burger King on Ramstein off of the turning circle. You can take oversized things here. Moving boxes, batteries, oil, electrical appliances, old furniture etc. It’s the best place to take your old junk if you can’t put it out with the normal recycling.
Germans take recycling very seriously. It’s really not hard to follow the recycling guidelines and you’ll be helping keep the planet greener! Don’t forget about the base recycling center. It’s a terrific place to bring your recycling and they can offer advice of what goes where.