All original content © 2011-2014. Photos and Text, unless otherwise stated, are by the author of Pork Bier Belly. If you want to use images or writing, please ask for permission prior to using.

Friday, April 25

Trash, Sorted Please

If you see people looking through trash cans, you are probably in Germany! We noticed people poking around in trash cans and thought odd! Once I saw a lady pull a plastic bottle out of the trash and walked on.

Which leads me to an important point, Germans are serious about trash. There are multiple entries on the blogosphere that explain the lengths Germans go to sort trash. The basic rules we follow:

1. Yellow bag is for unrecyclable plastic, plastic packaging (i.e. detergent can), foil and etc.
2. Paper recycling includes all paper, pizza boxes and some cardboard boxes. (There is a blue trash can outside our building that gets the paper recycling.)
3. Bio includes all compostable waste (coffee grinds, egg shells, fruit and vegetable waste). We unfortunately don’t have this in our building so I am forced to throw it in regular waste.
4. Many plastic bottles (soda or water) and cans are paid with a Pfand (deposit), if you want your Pfand back, you have to take it back to the store for refund.
5. Glass recycling includes wine bottles or glass bottles that don’t have a deposit. Even within that, there’s brown, green and white bottle separation. (The large glass recycling bins are throughout the city.)
6. Regular trash is everything that doesn’t fit into any of the above categories.

We support this because the world has plenty of trash ending up in places it should not! So sorting trash for appropriate bins is important; I wish America and India did the same.

So why are those people looking through trash? To get the deposit money that someone else threw away. The question I can’t answer is why go the lengths of looking through public trash to find money? (I know the obvious-duh answer, for money! But in a country that has social nets for low income people, money doesn’t seem like a good enough reason. Maybe it’s the bottom line to help save the environment. At least I hope it is. These trash browsers are helping the environment in some way, even if in their mind they’re doing it for the money.) The husband points out that is idealistic; people, everywhere, are greedy. Bleh.

At festivals in the park or around the city, there's always people walking around searching for bottles, cans and other valuable things.


  1. I really had to laugh with you on this one. When I first moved to Belgium, I didn't realize that the glass bottles all had a deposit. I had saved them for recycling, but didn't realize one took them back to the store for the deposit. I was throwing them away and a woman was yelling at me. It took me a while to realize what her yelling meant ;)

    1. getting yelled at is also very typical here! We, thankfully, haven't been yelled at but I've heard stories from friends.