Rubbish - Avoidance, Separation and Recycling

In Germany, people are in general very environmentally aware and therefore try to avoid wasting resources and polluting the environment. Rubbish is being separated strictly and recycled if possible.

Deposit For Beverages

Besides the normal system of returnable bottles (glas and plastic) for beverages, you also have to pay a deposit for a lot of disposable bottles (Einwegflaschen) and cans in order to motivate people to return them. Depending on the type of beverage and filling capacity you may or may not have to pay a deposit. You usually do not have to pay one for juice bottles, for water and soft drinks like coke you almost always have to pay a deposit. Look out for the logo of the Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH. If you find this emblem on a bottle or can, you will have to pay a deposit of up to €0.25. However, you will not find this emblem on every bottle that you have to pay a deposit for. If you do not have to pay a deposit, it will say so on the bottle’s label.

Empty bottles and cans can always be returned at the store you bought them at and at bigger shops selling these types of disposable bottles or cans. Take care not to damage the bottles and cans and especially do not remove the label containig the barcode, otherwise you might have problems returning them!

The "Grüne Punkt" (green point)
Logo of the DPG Deutsche Pfandsystem GmbH

Sorting And Recycling Waste

The rules for recycling are imposed by local authorities, the system can differ from town to town. In Ulm/Neu-Ulm, the following rules apply:

  • Gelber Sack and Gelbe Tonne (for potentially recyclable rubbish)
    For all "light" plastic and metallic packing materials, such as yoghurt cups, plastic bags, styrofoam, milk and juice packs, cans, spray cans, etc. that are not mentioned somewhere else. In most cases, they carry the symbol "Der Grüne Punkt". Make sure everything is completely empty. You can get yellow (plastic) bagsat the recycling stations or at the Bürgerbüro in Ulm or Neu-Ulm.
  • Glass (glass containers in your neighbourhood)
    For clean glass bottles (the ones that are not returnable ) etc., but no light bulbs, mirrors, window panes. Remove the lid and sort by glass color (clear, green and brown).
  • Paper and cardboards (blue bin)
    For all kinds of paper, e.g. newspapers, magazines, cardboard and packaging material. Clean paper only – no coated paper (from milk or juice packs) or tissues.
  • Biotonne (brown bin, Biomüll)
    For biodegradable waste like food waste, coffee filters, tea bags, plants, etc.
  • Restmüll (black bin, Restmüll)
    For all other kinds of waste. But keep in mind that there are relatively high fees for the disposal of Restmüll, whereas all the other kind of waste (except Biomüll) can be disposed free of charge.
  • Recyclinghöfe for bulky or hazardous waste and electronic devices
    There are recycling stations (Recyclinghof) all over the city, where you may deposit all kinds of hazardous waste (e.g. batteries, paints, oil), bulky waste (e.g. furniture, carpets, wood, window panes) and also old electronic devices. You may also bring all the types of waste listed above (except Biomüll). You will need a car to access these recycling stations.

Ask your roommates how the rubbish separation works in your dorm or your particular shared flat.

More information on recycling (incl. lists of what kind of rubbish belongs in which dustbin) and public recycling stations/containers can be found on the websites of the waste management companies of Ulm and Neu-Ulm.