Here are a few basics about how trash is done in this region of Germany. These are general rules. You’ll find various differences from village to village. Some are more strict than others, so just do your best and in time, you’ll figure out what works. There are horror stories of garbage collectors opening and dumping out the yellow bags if they see something in there that doesn’t belong, but those cases are few and far between. Don’t blatantly abuse the trash system and you’ll most likely be fine. Here’s another really great resource page.
TIP: Garbage cans are a lot more expensive in Germany/Europe than they are in the states, so you may want to grab a couple before moving.
“We just recently moved to Germany and had an observation. Trash cans for your home are freakishly expensive here. I suggest people coming here but good trash cans with lids before PCSing. 2 cans at the REAL were 100 euro and a can at the PXTRA was 60 bucks. That’s outrageous! Buy trash cans in the states!” – From reader SP
Curbside Trash/Recycling Pickup: You’ll get an annual trash calendar that is color and number coded so that you can easily find your area and know what will get picked up on which days. It isn’t regular and easy to remember like trash Tuesdays, so you may want to keep your calendar handy. I taped mine on the inside of a kitchen cupboard so I could reference it often.
Altpapier/Paper - Newspaper, printer paper, wrapping paper, mail, cardboard, etc. All non-metalic paper that is clean can go in here. Do not put dirty or greasy paper towels into the Altpapier.
Gelbesäcke/Yellow Sack – You will need to get special bags for this. Some garbage guys will allow regular garbage bags, but most want the special “yellow bag.” In this bag you’ll collect cans, bottles, glass, plastic, packaging, etc. Basically, any/all clean packaging goes here. Obviously, you probably don’t want to spend all of your time washing your trash, but a quick rinse is good enough and will help prevent smells and bugs while it waits for it’s bi-monthly pick up.
Biomüll/Bio – If you’d compost it, you put it here. Vegetables, grains, fruit, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. Put food scraps in here, but NOT meat or dairy.
Restmüll/Trash - Everything that doesn’t go into the above categories of the two below, goes here. This is the gross stuff. Diapers, meat, cheese, old socks, broken things, stained clothing, etc. NO batteries or electronics.
Sperrmüll/Bulky Trash – Just once or twice a year there will be a curbside pick up for old furniture and other large bulky things. These are fun days to get out early and drive around as some times you can find cool things that other people are getting rid of. It’s also a great time to get rid of old furniture, and mattresses. No electronics.
Gartenabfall/Garden Trimmings – A couple times each year there will be a garden pick up for green stuff. It usually corresponds with the fall and spring massive pruning seasons when the Germans and Dutch start pruning/gardening like mad. You’ll see it and know what I’m talking about.
Clothing/Shoes? – There are charities that will come around several times a year asking for clothing and shoes. They’ll give you a special bag and you can fill it and place in front of your house. You can also take these things in good condition to the Thrift shop at Schinnen. If the clothing/shoes are in poor condition, they can go into your restmüll.
If you have a lot of trash that accumulates, you can talk to your landlord and have the trash picked up every week, instead of bi-weekly. Since we are a family of 6 we accumulate a lot of trash, so they come every Tuesday for us. It costs a little extra, but you won’t have trash over flowing. Just give it some time and you’ll get the hang of it!
There are several places where you can dump bulky trash without waiting for Sperrmüll day. (I know there’s on in Neiderbusch… do you have an address?)
“Mülldeponie birgden Hanbusch.” (thanks to JM for this tip!)
Open: Mondays – Fridays 0700 to 1700 except holidays & Saturdays 0800 – 1300
Phone: 02454 – 6133
It is right on the K3 just outside of Birgden before Gillrath and it’s cheap (think 10 euro for a van load).