Separating organic, paper, glass, plastic and metal waste, and properly disposing of electronic and hazardous waste is heavily encouraged by the city of Hamburg. Collection fees only apply to black non-recyclable and green biowaste bins, while the use of the blue paper bin, the yellow recyclables bin and the bottle banks is free. Please always use the (correct) container. It is forbidden to put your garbage next to the container, even if it is full. If garbage is thrown away on the street or even in the park, this can result in significant fines.
The ‘Pfand’ system
Many bottles and cans carry so-called Pfand (lit: deposit) of €0.08 up to €0.25 which you’ll receive when you return the empty items to a point of sale, e.g. supermarkets and kiosks. Retailers are legally obliged to take your ‘Pfand’ if they sell the same or similar products. If you’re on the road, you may also leave containers on the streets for someone else to pick up and return the valuable items.
Metal or plastic waste
Drink cartons and plastic items, as well as metal cans, aluminium items and pots, pans and tools are collected either in yellow recyclable material bins or in yellow bags. These materials are recycled to a large extent.
Kitchen waste, coffee grounds, faded flowers or leaves – organic waste can be put into the green biowaste bin. Organic waste is fermented to create biogas and compost.
Separating paper waste helps to save trees and protect the climate. The blue recovered paper bin is designed for the disposal of paper waste. This includes newspapers, magazines, cardboard, books, letters and wrapping paper. Do not use this bin for wallpaper, drink cartons and hygienic paper products.
Materials such as full vacuum cleaner bags, used nappies or old wallpaper need to be thrown into the black non-recyclable refuse bin. This residual waste cannot be recycled and is completely burnt instead.
Glass jars and non-deposit bottles are to be disposed of at bottle banks. Do not use the container for broken cups, vases and porcelain. Bottle banks can be found throughout Hamburg. There are separate containers for white glass (= “Weißglas”), green glass (= “Grünglas”) and brown glass (= “Braunglas”). To locate a bottle bank near you, see the website of Stadtreinigung Hamburg.
Clothes can be disposed off in special textiles containers. To locate these, please check the website of Stadtreinigung Hamburg. Alternatively, you can choose to donate your clothes to a welfare organisation.
Small electronic items such as hairdryers, electric razors, lamps and telephones can be disposed of in special bins for ‘Elektro-Geräte’. Larger appliances can be disposed of at the 12 recycling centres in Hamburg. In addition, retailers that sell electronic goods are required by law to accept electronics for recycling.
Batteries and accumulators
Every consumer is legally obliged to hand in spent batteries and accumulators at an approved collection point. This ensures that they are recycled in an environmentally friendly and resource-saving manner. Household batteries and accumulators can be returned free of charge to wherever similar products are sold - regardless of where they were purchased and regardless of brand and type.
You will findcollection boxes in many shops and institutions, where you can dispose of used batteries and accumulators free of charge.
Paint, cleaning products, frying oil, batteries and other toxic products need to be disposed of at one of the 12 recycling centres, or at the nearest mobile recycling point for hazardous waste. Use the website of Stadtreinigung Hamburg to search for “Mobile Problemstoffsammlung”.
Furniture and large electrical equipment are designated as bulky waste (= “Sperrmüll”). You can either drop it off free of charge at any recycling yard or you can order a bulky waste pickup for a fee. You can submit this order to Stadtreinigung Hamburg by phone or online. Are the items still in good shape? Consider donation.