How to sort your trash and recycle in Germany

How to sort your trash and recycle in Germany

Germans take their trash very seriously, and it may take a while for newcomers to understand what goes in which bin. This guide will guide you through the complicated process of sorting your trash in Berlin. Buckle up, it's a wild ride.

Is it still useful?

If it could still be useful to someone, sell it or donate it. Clothes, empty bottles, old furniture and electronics will always find a taker, whether it's on Free Your Stuff Berlin or among Berlin's many charities.

Clothes and shoes

If you have old clothes, donate them. You can use this donation bin locator to find bins and donation points in Berlin. If you can't donate them, old clothes go in the grey bin.

Old appliances

Appliances will be picked up for free by appliance resellers1, 2 and scrap metal collectors (Schrötthandler)1. Search for "entsorgung" on eBay Kleinanzeigen to find people who want your old appliances.

Furniture and large items

You can request BSR to pick up your oversized trash (for a fee) or take it to one of their 15 recycling centers. You can also sell or donate your old furniture.

Electronics, batteries, light bulbs

Used electronics, batteries, neon lights and energy-saving bulbs don't go in the trash1. Return them in special locations so they can be properly recycled. These places can recycle your old electronics:

Paint and lacquers

You can't throw old paint and lacquers in the trash. Return them at the hardware store. These hardware stores will accept your old paint:

Everything else

Does it have a deposit?

Some bottles and cans have a deposit (Pfand). Return them at the grocery store to get 8 to 25 cents per bottle. If you don't want to return them, you can donate your Pfand bottles to charity.

Related guide: How to identify Pfand bottles

The blue bin: paper and cardboard

The blue bin is the easiest of them all: it's where the paper and cardboard goes.



The green and white bins: glass

Non-Pfand glass containers go in the green or white containers. The white bin is for the white glass, and the green bin is for the coloured glass. If your building does not have those containers, look for "Glasigus" bins in your neighbourhood. You can find them using this Glasigus locator.



Make sure you remove the caps and empty your bottles and jars. The caps go in the yellow bin. The month-old spaghetti sauce goes in the grey bin.

Neons and energy-saving lightbulbs do not belong in the trash. They should be disposed of at your local recycling centre, or in special bins at your local hardware store.

The yellow/orange bin: plastic, metal

The yellow or orange bin is for metal and plastic1. You must empty the containers before recycling them. Ketchup and moldy yoghurt is not recyclable.



The brown bin: biodegradable goods

The brown bin is for all biodegradable goods.



The grey/black bin: everything else

The grey or black bin (Restmüll) is for everything that does not fit in the other bins.

Useful links