Friday, November 30, 2012

A recycling story

As I mentioned before, Germans take recycling super seriously. When I first came to my apartment my landlady explained the recycling/trash rules, but in the rush of other information, I totally forgot. Two weeks ago my upstairs neighbor, having noticed that I was doing it all wrong, offered to explain everything to me again. Here goes:

All waste material is split into one of seven categories: paper, plastic/metal, clear glass, brown glass, green glass, compost, and trash. You throw things in the trash only as a last resort - if something could possibly go into one of the other categories, it darn well should.

Plastic, metal, and the three glasses should be washed clean of food waste. If, for example, a glass jar has a label, that label should be removed and put into the paper container, because it is not glass. The washed-off food waste should join normal food waste in the compost containers.

Within my apartment building we have communal compost, plastic/metal, and trash bins into which our apartment's smaller versions should be emptied. The compost bin should not have any paper or plastic in it, so no putting food waste into bags to throw away. Compost and trash are picked up on alternating Monday mornings at 6am, so the appropriate bin should be dragged to the front of the building on Sunday night. If the bin is not dragged back into place by around noon the next day, the neighbors get irritated with the eyesore and tuck it away somewhere, leaving us a note detailing where to find it. Recycling is picked up every third Thursday at 6am, and must be put into special yellow bags that one can only get from city hall. If the recycling is not in the yellow bag, the recycling people will leave it.

The glass and paper go into color-coded neighborhood bins that live in the little parking lot next to the neighborhood park. Green glass goes in the green bin, clear glass goes in the white bin, brown glass goes in the brown bin, and paper goes in the blue bin. Some buildings have their own glass and paper bins that get picked up like trash and recycling, but we don't have that. I was chided for mistaking another building's paper bin as the place to put my paper. You only make that mistake once.

In addition, batteries must absolutely be recycling and only an antisocial Neanderthal wouldn't recycle them, but I've yet to find where one does this. I'll have to take them home to my local library's battery recycling bin, or risk being shunned by all upstanding Germans.

Let me tell you, I took notes on this little talk and made a schedule so as to not get anything wrong. They'll make a German of me yet.

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