How much do you know about the German recycling system? If you just arrived in Germany, you might think it is somewhat complicated. I understand that because I also had the same problem. No one really taught me how to separate and dispose each waste.
Let me quickly explain the recycling system in Germany. Currently, there are three containers, which are 1) Papiertonne, 2) Restmüll and 3) Biotonne. From January 2021, we will have one more container called "Gelbe Tonne" with a yellow lid. You can dispose light packaging made of plastic, aluminium, tinplate or composite materials like beverage cartons into the Gelbe Tonne.
If you want to know more on how to separate the waste: check out the ECRI News on iLearn. There’s an article called “Life in PFARRKIRCHEN: Separating waste correctly in Pfarrkirchen”. There you will find useful information about what belongs to either Papiertonne, Restmüll or Biotonne containers. Do not forget to dispose glasses and cans separately into special containers (Glascontainer, Dosencontainer)!!! Glasses and cans do not belong to Restmüll. Containers for them are located at supermarkets in Pfarrkirchen like REWE or real. You should also separate glasses by colour and put white, green and brown glasses into the containers, which are of the same colour as the glass. If you are still unsure which waste goes in which container, you should print out the overview we created and put it somewhere you can always have a look at, for example on the kitchen wall.
Are you still not sure in which container the waste in your hand belongs? Check the backsides of the packages! Many products have that information written on it. If a product has two different waste, it will also tell you which one goes where. For example, the paper package covering of yoghurts belongs in the Papiertonne but the cup and lid should go into the Gelbe Tonne.
There is one more helpful piece of information for all of you. When you search for "Abfuhr(Abfall)kalender (region) (year)" on the internet, you will find a calendar that tells you when each of the different waste will be collected in your region (Link: https://www.awv-isar-inn.de/abfuhrkalender/). In Pfarrkirchen, Restmüll and Biotonne are usually collected every second week and Papiertonne is collected once every three weeks. According to the calendar 2021, the Gelbe Tonne container will be collected once a month. It will be very useful to print the Abfuhrkalender and put it on the kitchen wall next to the overview on recycling.
It is not easy to get used to this recycling system in Germany quickly, especially when the system in your home country is different. It is okay that it takes time. However, just do not forget not to dispose waste without separating correctly because you think "There won´t be any problem when I put this paper into Restmüll today"! Think about the environment and the people who are working to save our planet. Let us all try to contribute and put the waste into the right container.
Haneul Choi is from Seoul, South Korea and loves Germany. She is studying International Tourism Management at the European Campus Rottal-Inn in Pfarrkirchen. Baking and cooking are her biggest enjoyments but she is interested in history and geography as well.