Waste Sorting & Recycling
Germany is known for its strict rules for garbage and recycling. The system is complicated that sometimes even Germans are not sure what to do with certain things. We hope our guide will help you get things right – at least 98% of the time!
Although there are some regional differences, in general the following types of waste or recycling are sorted and picked up at private residences: used paper, packaging, organic waste, residual waste, and (by appointment) large items like furniture.
Green Bin: Used Paper
Nearly all kinds of paper belong in this bin, including:
- printer & looseleaf paper
- magazines & catalogues
- books & notebooks
- wrapping paper
- paper and cardboard packaging
Please do NOT put beverage cartons (Tetra Pak) in the green bin – they belong in the yellow bag. In addition, the following items are considered residual waste and go in the grey bin:
- dirty or wet paper
- coated paper (for example with laminated foil)
- hygienic items like diapers or tissues
Yellow Bag: Packaging
Most packaging in which items are sold should be placed in the yellow bag (Gelber Sack). This includes a few main categories.
- Plastics: bags, films, cups, dishes, bottles, tubes, pouches, nets, EPS packaging, etc.
- Metals: food or beverage cans, aluminum foils or dishes, crown caps, screw caps, tablet packaging made from aluminum, etc.
- Composite materials: beverage cartons (Tetra Pak), vacuum cans for powdered foods, blister packs, composite packaging such as for instant soups, etc.
Articles for daily use made of plastic or metal do not belong in the yellow bag. If you no longer want things like toothbrushes, toys, buckets, and so on, please place them in the grey bin.
Brown Bin: Organic Waste
If you have a brown bin for organic material, the following types of waste belong inside:
- fruit and vegetable peelings
- other residue from fruits and vegetables
- egg shells
- solid leftovers from meals (stale bread, cheese, etc.)
- coffee and tea filters or bags
- leaves, grass cuttings, plant trimmings, weeds, flowers, etc.
- wood shavings
Do not use the brown bin for liquid or mushy food remains. If you do not have a brown bin, all of the above may be placed in the grey bin.
Grey Bin: Residual Waste
Basically, the grey bin is where you put everything that doesn’t have a designated pick-up spot. So, do NOT use it for:
- used paper
- packaging waste
- organic material (unless there is a brown bin on site)
- items too large for the bin
- hazardous materials
Otherwise, almost anything else goes in, including:
- leftover meat, fish, and bones
- liquid or mushy food leftovers
- paper towels soiled with chemicals
- cigarette butts
- sweepings and ash
- vacuum cleaner bags
- hygienic articles
- diapers and sanitary napkins
- daily use articles like toothbrushes, toys, buckets, and so on
- electric light bulbs
- biodegradable plastic bags
- dishes and china
- wallpaper cutoffs or carpet remnants
- treated wood
- dried-up paint or varnish
Sperrmuell: Large Items
It is possible for large items like old furniture, household appliances, computers, or bicycles to be picked up by appointment. In most residences, you receive two coupons per year. You can contact AWS (Abfallwirtschaft Stuttgart) to receive an appointment. On the appointment morning, you simply leave the items on the curb. If you’re in a rush, you can also pay for pick-up within 48 hours.
Alternatively, you can bring these items and any recyclables to a community recycling depot, or Wertstoffhof. Please note that while recycling is free to deposit, for large items you will either need to provide one of your two yearly coupons or pay per cubic meter.
One more tip: when you replace an appliance like a vacuum cleaner, the shop where you bought the new one is required to take your old one for recycling.
Glass and hazardous waste are not picked up at private residences. Instead, they must be brought to specific locations.
Glass Collection Containers
Glass collection containers are located in every neighborhood.
Glass jars and bottles can be dropped off with or without their lids. They should be sorted into three main categories: clear, brown, and green. There is a container for each one. If you have a glass jar or bottle that is another color, place it into the container for green glass.
Most other kinds of glass may not be disposed of in these collection containers. Window glass, car windows, and armoured glass must be specially disposed of. The following kinds of glass are categorized as residual waste and should be placed in the grey bin.
- electric bulbs
- fire-proof glass tableware
- lead glass and lead crystal
Umweltmobil: Hazardous Waste
Hazardous materials are collected only in certain locations and must be deposited in airtight vessels with a maximum capacity of 5 liters (5.2 qt). The contents must be labeled on the outside of the containers.
The following materials are considered hazardous waste:
- all kinds of chemicals
- mineral oil
- liquid paints and varnish (hardened or dried-out paints and varnish go in the grey bin)
- fluorescent tubes
- solvents and thinners
- wood preservatives
- broken mercury thermometers
- aerosol cans that aren’t empty
For more information about waste and recycling pickup and drop-off in Stuttgart, visit this website.
To look up the schedule for pickup services, use this tool.
For customer service:
+49 711 216–88700