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Examples of packaging waste: what goes in which bin?

Residual waste, yellow bin, waste glass or waste paper? It is not always easy to make this decision - especially when several substances are connected that actually have to be disposed of in very different ways. As our photo series shows, some things can be put in the yellow bin, but not recycled afterwards - and should still be put in, because this at least reduces residual waste. In addition, with the purchase of packaging you have already paid for the disposal via the yellow bin. Unrestricted recycling of all waste in the yellow bin is, of course, ecologically more desirable.

The generally better solution, however, would be the "recycling bin": Everything that the yellow bin "likes" and much else that ends up in the residual waste bin can go in here - the plastic wooden spoon, the burnt-out grave light, the aluminum light, a broken saucepan, the rusted nail, the leaky tin watering can or the broken plastic toy. So far, however, this option has only been available in some municipalities, which is why it is not mentioned in the photo series as a disposal option. The consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia, however, advocates the widest possible distribution and establishment of the recycling bin. Until then, other rules for the disposal of packaging waste usually apply - as the following examples are intended to illustrate.

Pizza box: waste paper or residual waste

 

If the pizza box is still clean after removing the pizza (it is okay as in the picture), it is best to put it in the waste paper and to recycle it. Be careful with cardboard coated with plastic inside: it belongs in the yellow bin. You can easily see this when you tear the box - if it is coated with foil, you can clearly see the foil at the point of the tear. However, if the cardboard is heavily smeared, the waste paper will become soiled. In that case, only the residual waste remains.

Cardboard tray: waste paper or residual waste

 

The same applies to such cardboard trays as to the pizza box - disposal depending on the degree of soiling (see previous picture).

Coffee-to-go mug: yellow bin

 

Coffee-to-go cups are considered service packaging and can therefore be disposed of in the yellow bin. That way they would be at least partially recycled. In fact, the majority should end up in urban garbage cans and in garbage cans at train stations - and thus in the residual waste.

Yoghurt cups: yellow bin / waste paper

 

The cardboard-covered yoghurt pots seem particularly environmentally friendly because some of the plastic has been replaced by cardboard. If it ends up correctly in the yellow bin, it is still a long way from being properly recycled. Cardboard, plastic and aluminum lids are still connected - no machine separates them. As a result, the material mix is ​​sorted incorrectly and only partially recycled. However, if you separate the cardboard from the plastic by hand before throwing it in the bin and pull the lid off completely, all three materials are also recycled. The cardboard can then ideally also be disposed of in the waste paper.

Blue glass: glass container for green glass

 

Blue bottles are allowed in the green glass, as this is best with glasses of different colors when melted down. Incidentally, it is important that only so-called container glass goes into the container. These are all types of beverage bottles and canned glass. Window glass or crystal glass interfere with the recycling process, even if they look exactly like bottles and glasses, because they are put together differently. They therefore belong in the residual waste!

Plastic take-away tray: yellow bin

 

Unfortunately, in practice it all too often ends up in the residual waste - but can, if it is made of plastic, as here, in the yellow bin. And as with the pizza boxes, the following applies: If it is too dirty, it has to be disposed of with the residual waste.

Plastic take-away cups: yellow bin

 

The same applies here as in the previous picture: Such take-away plastic cups can be put in the yellow bin!

Cheese paper made from separable composite material: yellow bin and waste paper

 

Paper or plastic? Both! Some types of cheese / sausage papers are not that strongly linked. Here you can pull off the film by hand and both materials can be recycled.

Coated paper: yellow bin

 

Coated paper packaging like this, in which the components cannot be separated, should be thrown in the yellow bin, as they are "composite packaging". By the way, with a tear test you can see whether there is a plastic coating in addition to paper.

Composite packs with several plastics or aluminum: yellow bin (but no recycling)

 

Composite packaging made of several layers of different plastics and mostly aluminum foil are so firmly connected that they can no longer be separated. Therefore, recycling is impossible - you can only incinerate them. Nevertheless, you should throw something like this in the yellow bin, because you have already paid for the disposal with the purchase and thus reduce the residual waste. However, it would be best to choose other (e.g. more easily separable) packaging when purchasing!

Plastic flower pot: yellow bin or residual waste

 

This is where it gets strange: If the plastic flower pot was only used for transporting the plant home, it can be put in the yellow bin. However, if the flowers / plants should remain in the pot and, for example, decorate the windowsill - as a potted plant - then you still need the flower pot and then it is not a packaging. Only when repotting is this pot no longer needed and then it has to be disposed of with the residual waste. The reason: only when buying with a plant that is immediately planted at home is it considered "packaging" according to the definition in the Packaging Act. If the pot is bought without a plant for repotting, or if the pot is used when repotting, then it is not packaging, so it must be disposed of as residual waste. Not really easy and understandable ....

Clothes hanger: yellow bin or residual waste

 

Another curiosity, similar to the flower pot: if clothes were sold together with them, they can be put in the yellow bin. If it was still used, it would have to be disposed of with the residual waste at some point ... The reason: According to the definition in the waste law, it is only considered "packaging" when purchased with clothing. If the bracket was purchased individually, it is residual waste.

CD: residual waste

 

A CD case is not a packaging, but is a storage box - if it ever becomes rubbish, it has to be disposed of with the residual waste. Only the transparent cover, which is often still around after purchase, can be put in the yellow bin.

Video cassette: residual waste

 

The old treasures are not packaging - and not least because they have to be disposed of with the residual waste, because they can cause real problems in the recycling systems: The belts ensure that the waste system stops as they wrap around the conveyor belts ...

Coffee capsules: residual waste - sometimes a yellow bin

 

This is where it gets difficult: Coffee capsules are actually not packaging, as the coffee remains in the capsule to brew the coffee - and the capsule is therefore part of the product. That would mean: residual waste! Now some providers have licensed their capsules to the yellow bin - but to know this more precisely, you would have to ask the provider, as this is not always clear on the packaging. And it is controversial how well the recycling really works in these cases. In case of doubt, only the residual waste bin remains here.

Grave candles: residual waste

 

The red plastic sleeve in which the wax is located is not a packaging, but part of the product - so it cannot be put in the yellow bin. The transparent cover, which can also be seen in the picture, but yes!

Tea lights: residual waste

 

As with the grave light, the same applies here: No packaging, but part of the product - so a burnt tealight cannot be put in the yellow bin.

Mascara: yellow bin

 

That can completely in the yellow bin, because, attention: the mascara brush is also counted as part of the package closure ...

Opal glass: yellow bin (but no recycling)

 

White (opaque) "opal glass" attacks the tub in the glass recycling plant due to the ingredient fluorine and is therefore sorted out of the waste glass beforehand - so it has no place in the waste glass container. Unfortunately, even throwing it in the yellow bin does not lead to recycling - but you should still throw it in here, as you have already paid for the disposal with the purchase and thus reduce the residual waste.

Black plastic: yellow bin (but no recycling)

 

The sorting systems cannot sort black plastics according to different types of plastic. Therefore, they are not recycled as sorting residues, but incinerated. Nevertheless, you should throw something like this in the yellow bin, because you have already paid for the disposal with the purchase and thus reduce the residual waste. This applies e.g. B. also for "black cosmetics" such as shower gels or deodorant sprays. However, it would be best to choose packaging in a different color when you buy it!

"Deep-drawn PET": yellow bin (but no recycling)

 

Such glossy, transparent plastic trays - called "deep-drawn PET" - cannot currently be recycled in contrast to PET bottles, as other substances are added here that currently make recycling impossible. But be careful: bowls that are also clear, but not so shiny, can also be made from polypropylene (PP), which is much easier to recycle. They can only be distinguished by looking closely. Usually the recycling code, a triangle made of arrows and the letters PP or PET, is stamped in small letters on the bottom of the packaging.

Bio-plastic: yellow bin (but no recycling)

 

In theory, many so-called "bio" plastics can be recycled. However, the quantities in the garbage are so small that it has so far not been worthwhile for the garbage recyclers to sort the materials according to type and process them into new products. They are therefore simply burned with the sorting residue. Nevertheless, you should throw something like this in the yellow bin, because you have already paid for the disposal with the purchase and thus reduce the residual waste