In Germany, Source Separation is old news, everybody does it . And I mean
E V E R Y B O D Y!
It is working because Germany applied country wide the same strategy. German households, and buildings are all set up the same way. Everybody is sorting food waste into the brown “BioTonne”, Paper into the “Blue Bin” , all packaging into the “Yellow Bin” and then there is the black bin for left over garbage.
The pick up schedule is set up to reward recycling and to penalize garbage. Country wide food waste pick up takes place once per week, Paper and Packaging Materials are alternating once per week and the left over garbage is only picked up once per month. Each bin has a bar code and is read at point of pick up. The cost per consumer is calculated by weight whereas food waste and recycling has a very low per pound fee, and remaining garbage a very high per pound fee.
The keys to success were
1. consistent signage, consistent colors of bins
2. supervision at point of collection (oops stickers, and ultimately fines for non compliance)
3. pay per throw via bar code, per pound cost differentiated by material.
4. Bio Digesters for food waste management .
The results are just amazing.
In Numbers: Germany generates some 50 million tons of waste per year from its 82.5 million people. 87% of that waste is recycled through household and industrial source separation.
Construction debris is only accepted source separated to particular standards.
Grocery stores are required to offer disposal of hard to recycle materials and with that came a revolution in packaging, as suddenly the point of sale was responsible for what it put on its shelves.
There are no active landfills in Germany, a few incinerators are dealing with the remaining 13% of left over garbage. Italy is sending its trash to Germany for incineration, and Germany is actually harvesting that trash from its recyclables before sending it to the incinerator.
And the absolute best is, that it is now cost efficient to harvest old landfills, which is starting to happen in several areas all over Germany.
A true example of what can be possible if everybody is seeing the greater good, rather then the quick buck for some selected few.
5 thoughts on “Waste Management in Germany, 87% recycling rate”
This is remarkable! May I ask where did you get the data on current recycling rate?
Hi Sara, We simply weigh all of the separated waste at the end of the lunch period and do the calculations. Thanks for your question.
Excellent Blog!! Thanks for sharing.
What’s the amount of energy produced from those wastes ?And which means of transport are you using to transport such wastes
There are a few waste to energy plants and it is all rail or truck. There are many local bio gas plants