In Germany, there is a sophisticated system for waste disposal that is organized at various levels. The goal of the system is to reduce, sort, and recycle waste in order to protect the environment and conserve resources.

Waste disposal in Germany is typically organized by local authorities. Each community or city has its own guidelines and regulations for waste disposal, which are implemented by local waste management companies. These companies collect and transport the waste to central landfills or waste treatment facilities.

The German waste disposal system is based on strict waste separation, which ensures that different types of waste are collected separately. There are different containers in which the waste is collected, such as the yellow bag or yellow bin for plastic, metal, and composite packaging, the brown bin for organic waste, and the blue bin for paper and cardboard.

The disposal of hazardous waste such as batteries, electronic devices, chemicals, or used oil is done through special collection points or recycling centers. Old clothes and shoes can also be disposed of through collection containers or second-hand clothing stores.

However, waste disposal in Germany is not only focused on collecting and transporting waste, but also on reusing and recycling waste. Packaging with the “Green Dot” must be recycled, for example, and there are special recycling programs for glass, paper, and electronic waste.

Waste disposal in Germany is, therefore, a complex system that is based on effective waste separation and the recycling of waste. By separating and disposing of waste carefully, we can help protect the environment and conserve resources. Each individual can make a contribution by correctly disposing of waste and reusing it whenever possible.

The German waste management system is designed to be sustainable and resource-efficient. Waste is not seen as a problem, but rather as a valuable resource that can be used to create new products and energy. Through efficient waste management and recycling, Germany can preserve natural resources and reduce its environmental impact.

Overall, the German waste management system is considered a model for other countries. The emphasis on waste separation, advanced recycling technologies, and sustainable practices has led to significant reductions in waste generation and environmental pollution, while promoting the preservation of natural resources.

German deposit system

General: The deposit system aims to prevent empty bottles from being carelessly thrown away, ending up in the garbage or, since they are often made of plastic, ending up in the water.
That’s why you get a certain amount of money for every empty bottle, regardless of the content. This is exactly the amount that was paid when buying the bottle – in addition to the purchase price – as a deposit for the bottle.
In the supermarkets, the empty bottles are placed individually in a machine. After completing the entry, a receipt is ejected, which can be presented at the checkout for settlement.

There are two types of deposit:

One-way deposit (bottles that are only used/filled once):
Every business that sells one-way bottles is obliged to take back empty non-returnable bottles up to a size of 3 liters and to pay back the deposit of 25 cents per bottle, even if the bottles were not bought from them.


dpg-logo on cans & bottles with 0.25 cents deposit

There are usually vending machines in the stores for this purpose.

Starting January 1, 2024, a new deposit rule applies in Germany for milk-based single-use bottles. Consumers now pay a 25-cent deposit for drinks in single-use plastic bottles containing at least 50% milk. This includes products like milk, cocoa, latte macchiato, ayran, buttermilk, drinking yogurt, and kefir. Non-resealable cups, Tetra Paks, or pouches are exempt. Deposit logos on packaging help identify eligible products. Empty bottles can be returned to supermarkets and discount stores, accepting all brands.

Reusable deposit (bottles that are filled and sold multiple times):
Returnable bottles are almost all made of glass, which is an important raw material. Therefore, a deposit is charged for these bottles, which is between 8 cents (beer) and 15 cents (almost all others, except Schweppes and Andechs).

If drinks are sold in crates, a deposit is also required for these. Reusable bottles are only taken back in full-service stores and beverage stores.

Yellow sack

All other plastic bottles and packaging are collected by the consumer in the yellow sack. These are picked up at regular intervals at the curb. Yellow sack may not contain any other rubbish. They are distributed free of charge to all households in sufficient quantities, usually at the beginning of the year. Otherwise, these are also available in the respective town hall.
Instead of the yellow sack, rubbish bins with yellow lids can also be used.

Altglascontainer (used glass containers)

All other bottles or similar made of glass are disposed of in so-called “Altglascontainer” (used glass containers).

There are three container types:

Grünglas – green glass,

Braunglas – brown glass,

Weißglas – transparent glass.

Notice: Blue or other colored glass always belongs in the green glass container.

Disposal in the supermarket

Batteries are disposed of in the supermarket, near the checkout area you will find a bin or something similar where it can be disposed.

From July 1st, 2022, all discarded electronic devices can be handed in in the supermarket, the prerequisite for this is: the device must not exceed an edge length of 25 centimeters. The supermarket must take back the device, regardless of where the device was purchased.