A green Bavaria makes the Brits look bad

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An article written by a British expat in this weeks Daily Telegraph (Bag a bargain with German recycling) states that lessons can be learnt from Germans about recycling. The author who does not say where he lives, says "Waste management is big business in Germany and Bavarians do it with zest each collecting an average 322 kilos of recyclable rubbish a year. Less than one per cent of the remaining waste ends up as landfill. The separation of rubbish is not compulsory, yet recent surveys show 90 per cent of Bundesbürger enjoy sorting their household rubbish."

 

I am not sure "enjoy" would be the word I’d use but having lived here for nearly 10 years myself, I know much of the article is true. I find it so hard to throw things away when I go back to the UK on holiday. In the beginning, my odd week spent in the UK was like a holiday from the early nightmare that was recycling – now I can’t imagine ever being so blasé about packaging and batteries! Come on Britain…….get your act together!

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It's very patchy in Britain. For instance, my parents have a blue wheelie bin for recyclying. You can put any recyclables except glass in it - very nice, and superior to the 'Gelbe Sack' here, which doesn't let you put paper in. In Munich, you don't even have that - typically the only recycling containers in most buildings is for paper.

 

But I agree, Germans are much better at recycling than most other countries.

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Whenever I visit my family in the U.S., I feel so guilty throwing things in the trash. Despite the fact that they have newspaper and plastic recycling, they produce more garbage every day than I do here in two weeks! Also, their plastic recycling is very specific - only certain kinds of plastic get recycled. Not like here where all plastic is treated the same.

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Hi Sally,

 

I take it you mean this article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/global/main.jht...ny-recyling.xml

 

I can tell you that I live in the Hallertau - and the good Hallertauer Volk do enjoy recycling. I've had long discussions with them, even the checkout girls at Schlecker are enthusiastic about waste management!

 

And I know exacty how you feel when you go back to the UK and see people slinging batteries and packaging into "normal" rubbish. But things are changing there too. The Brits are a sceptical folk - they just need a bit more persuading.

 

If you liked that article there's loads more at http://knowhowe.wetpaint.com/.

Best

Tim Howe

Know Howe for English

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That's what I'm hearing a lot about anglo-americans: Trying the recycling thing but could do better. Now here's a question. Does anyone know a country that tops even Germany in the recycle-everything-in-the-house stakes? If they do please come forward, I'd be interested.

 

Tim Howe

Know Howe for English

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Really? Can't possibly be BANES, can it? ThatÄs where I'm from and I've never understood why they refuse to collect my parents' perforated waste!

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BANES is known for being one of the most crap council's in the UK but no, my parent's waste gets collected in Sedgemoor District.

The good thing they do is have a general recycling box into which which you can put any clean glass / plastic / tins.

I'd really like to recycle more of that stuff but can't easily in inner Munich. :(

We used to have a privately organised recycling point on our street but when they renovated the block they took it away and replaced it with a "conceptual light and space feature". *KOTZ*

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Well I don't know what perforated waste is, but my Mums local council collects her recycle stuff, like tins,paper, plastics and glass bottles, which my local council here doesn't, I have to take bottles and paper to the recycling place myself. The only odd thing is that she puts everything except the bottles into one big orange bag, the paper isn't collected seperately which seems a bit strange to me.

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No we don't Mr A. The nearest glass recycling point is 10 minutes walk and in an area I hardly ever pass normally.

So it all goes in the general trash. :(

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Hi Tim,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I have a question regarding a statement from the article: 'Rinsing empty cans beforehand is a little more time-consuming, but most Germans cheerfully do so'.

My landlady told me years ago that rinsing should not be done as it was a waste of water. So I never have. Which is correct?

Thanks SOS

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Well if you don't rinse them out they are going to smell a bit by the time they collect them. Our Gelbe Säcke are only collected once a month! I think I recall something about them being easier to recycle if they are clean, but I can't see that being true really.

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Now here's a question. Does anyone know a country that tops even Germany in the recycle-everything-in-the-house stakes? If they do please come forward, I'd be interested.

Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and probably Netherlands. Not that the Germans do bad or anything, but those countries do it better.

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When I moved to Richmond, after 7 years in Munich, I was/still am, floored by the throw away nature of the socirty.

 

However even in one year it has improved.

 

Marks & Spencer will stop giving free plastic bags as of May, and will start charging.

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Hi Tim,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I have a question regarding a statement from the article: 'Rinsing empty cans beforehand is a little more time-consuming, but most Germans cheerfully do so'.

My landlady told me years ago that rinsing should not be done as it was a waste of water. So I never have. Which is correct?

Thanks SOS

 

Well if you don't rinse them out they are going to smell a bit by the time they collect them. Our Gelbe Säcke are only collected once a month! I think I recall something about them being easier to recycle if they are clean, but I can't see that being true really.

Know Howe:

Yes, like the other reader says, it's purely to stop the pots and cans smelling before they're collected. If you don't and have just missed a collection then that makes for an awful lot of undesirable smells wifting up out of the cellar, or wherever you store your recyclables.

 

As for other comments made on this thread, it seems that what we need in Germany too are more standardised regulations. Rules often vary considerably from commune to commune and people are rightly confused. From talking to neighbours though, most of whom are in the 30-45 age range with kids, I'm hearing they do make the effort. I can't comment for elderly people. But then they, unlike younger folk, have the time to go down to their Rathaus, get the bumpf and read up on it. That's German Fleißigkeit for you.

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One bin into which you can chuck anything with a recyclable symbol on would certainly make it easier. We chuck loads of things which have the symbol into the general waste bin simply because we've no idea how or where to recycle them. Aerosol deodorant cans, for example, have the recylable symbol. I'm sure they're not the supposed to go into either plastic or aluminium bins down the road, but what the hell are you supposed to do with them. Also the tubs that our powedered baby milk comes in. They have a paper/card outer with a foil layer glued to it, and then a plastic lid, but they have the recylable symbol. Anyone have any idea what to do with something like that (in Munich)?

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In Islington, London, we have green recycling boxes which are collected once a week. Good idea - you put everything recyclable in there (paper, glass, plastic bottles) except they don't take packaging and plastic bags. Also the green boxes are tiny - maybe 1 box is sufficient per person.. but we get 1 per household.

 

I think that another big problem in the UK is that companies don't seem to recycle either. I remember my first day at the office in London when I had an empty glass bottle. I couldn't bring myself to just throwing it away in the bin. Now we have recycling bins throughout the whole company, an initiative started within the past few months.

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Hi,

 

the Grüne Punkt actually requires the producer to pay license fee in order to use the logo.

The logo symbolises conformance with the system to the consumer (who also bears the costs).

 

No problem with that, however ...

 

It is a system which is based on trust.

As soon as someone does not participate, and places their garbage into the wrong bin, the whole concept goes down the drain.

 

So the "Grüne Punkt" relies on the consumer to do part of the work (pre-separation of the garbage), which nowadays can be (and in many countries is) fully automated with selection machines.

 

Adding insult to injury, for this very reason, most of the stuff that we collect - gets thrown together in the end and is fed to an automated sorting machine.

 

Does not look so green after all.

 

happy collecting,

windowlicker

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One bin into which you can chuck anything with a recyclable symbol on would certainly make it easier. We chuck loads of things which have the symbol into the general waste bin simply because we've no idea how or where to recycle them. Aerosol deodorant cans, for example, have the recylable symbol. I'm sure they're not the supposed to go into either plastic or aluminium bins down the road, but what the hell are you supposed to do with them. Also the tubs that our powedered baby milk comes in. They have a paper/card outer with a foil layer glued to it, and then a plastic lid, but they have the recylable symbol. Anyone have any idea what to do with something like that (in Munich)?

The answer is to look for the Grüner Punkt. Every product with this symbol on can be recycled and goes either in glass or the gelbe Tonne! The company that manufactured it has paid Duales Stystem Deutschland to use their symbol, just in case you wonder who's making the profit. But if DSD finds non-recyclables in their yellow bins then it's they who have to pay to get rid of it!! A vicious circle, in other words.

 

Please though, lieber MünchnerMag with the aerosols - make sure they go in the yellow.

 

Answers to any more questions about what goes where you'll most likely find on an interesting feature made by WDR's Quarks team at http://www.wdr.de/tv/quarks/global/pdf/Q_Muell2.pdf

 

Pages 18-20 especially useful, if you've got the time, and understand German of course.

 

Happy Sorting!

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