Do you know what goes into the organic bin in Germany?


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Correct waste separation has a lot to do with healthy environmental awareness and begins right at your own doorstep. But the organic waste that belongs in the organic bins is not just rubbish, but a real treasure.

After all, it can be used to produce valuable biogas for electricity and heat supply, as well as compost for landscaping and horticulture. But what belongs in the organic waste bin and what doesn’t? Numerous studies show that for many people it is still not so clear what can and should be disposed of in these special garbage cans. When it comes to waste separation, a distinction must be made between residual waste, the yellow bin and the organic bin.

The colors of the garbage cans in Germany at a glance

Bin colorUsed for?
Black Almost the only constant in Germany when it comes to waste bin color. The black garbage can is for the residual waste.
No other containers are black.
Blue With the exception of two federal states, every household in Germany has blue bins. These are intended for paper waste.
But they are also often used for cardboard and packaging material.
BrownOnly present in around two thirds of Germans. Brown stands for organic waste.
The other 30% in Germany use a composter.
YellowPlastic belongs in the yellow bin. Or in the yellow bag?
Half of all people in Germany have a ton in front of their door, the rest use yellow bags.


What really belongs in the organic waste bin?

organic bin

Those who cannot dispose of their biowaste in their own composter usually have a bio bin, which is also provided by the municipality. Biowaste is anything that can be recycled in industrial plants.

Note: Organic and vegetable waste belong in the bio bin. However, this is not to be equated with the term “biodegradable waste”. Kitchen and garden waste also has this property, but not everything that is naturally biodegradable really belongs in the brown bin.

This goes in the organic waste bin:

  • Coffee grounds and tea bags with paper filters
  • Solid kitchen waste
  • Leftovers from dairy products, but no milk
  • Leftover bread and cake
  • Eggshells
  • Nutshells
  • Leftovers from citrus fruits
  • Leftover food without outer packaging
  • Leftover food (raw, cooked, spoiled)
  • Meat and sausages
  • Remnants of cheese without plastic crust
  • Herringbones and animal bones
  • Hair
  • Feathers (natural)
  • Wood wool
  • Sawdust from untreated wood
  • Small animal litter, provided it is made of biodegradable material and does not adhere to faeces
  • Garden waste such as weeds, remains from pruning trees, tree bark, flowers, potting soil, parts of plants
  • Leaves in normal household quantities
  • Grass clippings in normal household quantities
  • Potted plants (without planter)
  • Kitchen paper, paper towels, handkerchiefs, serviettes and paper bags in normal household quantities

Note: As great as the invention of biodegradable plastics is, they are not necessarily ideal for the organic waste bin. Although these bags are biodegradable, they take much longer for this process than conventional organic waste. That is why they are not welcomed by the recyclers of organic waste, as they cannot be added to the composting or fermentation process at the end of the day. In addition, the biodegradable garbage bag can hardly be distinguished from a conventional garbage bag in a mountain of kitchen and garden waste. This often leads to the fact that organic bins are not emptied because they are apparently incorrectly filled. Incidentally, this also applies to biodegradable cat litter.

Do not put moist food leftovers directly in the bio bin

organic bin

Experts also advise putting very moist leftover food in newspaper without colored printing and then throwing it away in the brown bin. For larger amounts of grass clippings and leaves, there are often appropriate collection points or storage options so that the bio bins in front of the house entrances are not unnecessarily filled with them. After all, you have to keep in mind that many tenants live in apartment buildings, all of whom have to properly dispose of their organic waste.

Tip: The waste statutes of individual municipalities often state that cooked leftovers must not be put in the brown bin. There can be two reasons for this: Either the available recycling plant is not yet equipped with a newer fermentation plant and might then have a hygiene problem with leftover food. Or the statutes are simply not updated yet. An open discussion with the municipal administration often helps here. Incidentally, there is always a municipal waste advice center where you can get comprehensive information.

What is not allowed in the organic waste bin?

organic bin

Basically, it’s pretty easy to answer this question. Because here always applies: Nothing is allowed in the brown bin that does not biodegrade in a relatively short time or that is not of organic or vegetable origin. Therefore, even plastics labeled “biodegradable” have no place in organic waste.

Accordingly, it does not belong in the organic waste bin:

  • Ashes
  • Flower pots
  • Flower tie wire
  • Disposable dishes
  • Animal excrement
  • Glass
  • Gift ribbon
  • Wood scraps (treated)
  • Hygiene products
  • Garbage
  • Ceramic, porcelain, glass
  • Leftover candles
  • Small animal and cat litter
  • Medication
  • Furniture wood
  • Remnants of leather and fabric
  • Cardboard
  • Bandages
  • Packaging and cardboard
  • Rubber
  • Vacuum cleaner bags
  • Carpet and wallpaper scraps
  • Diapers

Tip: In the case of packaged food that has spoiled or become inedible, the outer packaging should be removed before it is disposed of in the bio bin. If mold has formed on the still packaged mold, it is advisable to first open the packaging directly above the brown bin and then to dump the contents.


The bio bin is intended for all types of waste that are of organic or vegetable origin. However, you have to be careful here not to go solely according to what is biodegradable. Because this terminology is much broader and also applies to biodegradable cat litter, plastics or waste from forestry and agriculture. In no case do these belong in the brown bin.

Michelle Halterman
Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.



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