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House and Home

This is a general guide to waste disposal and recycling. Some rules may differ from town to town, for example, the collection of bulky waste, so always make sure about the rules that apply in your town.
You can search for “abfallkalender” or “müllkalender” and your town and hopefully find an online pickup calendar. 

Bio-Waste / Biotonne

Be considerate about what you put into the bio-waste, as it will be used for compost.
The following is allowed in the bio bin:

  • Vegetable, fruit and salad leftovers
  • Solid leftovers in small quantities (bread leftovers, pasta, salads, etc.)
  • Coffee grounds, tea residue with filter and bag
  • Household paper, crumpled paper (uncoated), egg cartons
  • Flower and plant debris, garden and green waste
  • Withered flowers, weeds, plant debris, tree and hedge trimming, leaves, grass clippings
  • Leftovers from flower pots and balcony boxes

The following is not allowed in the bio bin:

  • Liquid leftovers (soups, sauces, milk), edible oils and fats, bones
  • Cigarette butts, ash, rubber, cork, textiles, leather, medicines, cosmetics
  • Clay, stones, ceramics and porcelain
  • Street sweepings, contents of vacuum cleaner bags
  • Pet litter, dead animals, faeces, diapers and sanitary items
  • Plastic bags (not biodegradable/compostable either!)

See this infographic for more information, also Was darf in die Biotonne und was nicht

Yellow Bin /Gelber Sack

The yellow bins are for general packaging not made of paper, cardboard or glass. See this Infographic for more information. Milk cartons go into the yellow bin. Yellow bags can be picked up at the Town Hall, some towns also deliver them once a year. Find out from the Bürgerdienste in your town what applies to you.

Waste paper /Altpapier

The blue Altpapier bins are for cardboard boxes and corrugated cardboard, Newspapers, magazines, catalogues, prospectuses, Notepads, computer paper, pocketbooks, and Shredder paper (packed separately in a transparent plastic bag).
You are not allowed to throw hardcover books, file folders, thermal paper, carbon paper, old wallpaper, wet cardboard boxes, transport packaging of commercial enterprises in these bins

Residual waste /Restmüll

Household waste that is not recyclable.  Items like paper, bottles, organic waste excavated earth, rubble and dangerous goods do not belong in the residual waste bin.  

Small Electrical equipment

Not allowed in the residual waste bin (Restmüll). 
These are devices no larger than 25 cm, for example, mobile phones, remote controls and toasters
Small electrical equipment can be handed it free of charge at the Municipal collection points (Werstoffhöfen or Schadstoffmobil). Local shops selling electrical devices must also take back small electrical equipment, free of charge.
From July 1, 2022, this obligation to take back old devices free of charge also applies to food retailers (e.g. supermarkets and food discounters) with a total sales area of at least 800 square meters who offer electrical and electronic devices several times a calendar year or permanently and make them available on the market. It doesn’t matter where the old devices were originally bought and there is no need to buy a new device. 

Big Electrical devices

Not allowed in the residual waste bin (Restmüll)
If the used electrical device is larger than 25 centimetres (e.g. washing machine, television, printer), the dealer is obliged to take it back free of charge when buying a new device of the same type. If you have a new device delivered (to your home), the retailer must inform you when concluding the purchase contract about the possibility of returning the old device free of charge and picking up the old device free of charge and ask you about your intention to receive an old device in return when the new device is delivered should be taken away.

Batteries / Akkus und Batterien

Not allowed in the residual waste bin (Restmüll)
You can hand in old batteries free of charge at shops that sells these items. There should be a collection point. You can also hand them in at most Recycling centres. Also see information from the Umwelt Bundesamt 

 

Dangerous goods

Not allowed in the residual waste bin (Restmüll)
Typical items are Energy-saving lamps, LED lamps, fluorescent tubes, paint, engine oil, thinners, spray cans and all kinds of chemicals.
Toxic waste can either be handed in at the disposal company’s hazardous waste collection vehicle or at one of the recycling centres.
Some cities offer a collection service, but only for normal household quantities and under strict rules. Here is an example for Stuttgart

Bulky waste / Sperrmüll

Not allowed in the residual waste bin (Restmüll)
Bulky waste is residual waste that is too large for the residual waste bin, such as tables, beds, mattresses, etc.
Most towns offer a collections service, but either once a year or against payment. You can also self-deliver to a disposal system. As an example here is information for Esslingen

Medicine / Altmedikamente

Unused tablets, capsules, ointments, juices or drops belong in the residual waste bin. Please put these in a bag and make sure children cannot get hold of it while it inside the bin. You can also take it to participating pharmacies.
Never throw it down the toilet or drain

Building refuse / Renovierungsabfälle

See dangerous goods for paint, thinners, brush cleaners and other chemicals.
Wallpaper, wallpaper paste, and dried paint can be thrown into the Residual waste bin.
Items like doors, bathroom sink and other items, and windows are to be disposed of at the disposal station (Entsorgunsstation). This is not a free service

Deposit / Pfand

Refundable plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles can be deposited at Supermarkets with a “Pfandstation” You will receive a voucher that you can use inside the shop. The refund amounts can be found here
Look for the “Einweg” logo on beverage cans and bottles made of PET plastic, such as mineral water bottles  Bottles with this logo are not reusable bottles, but are only filled once and are recycled.
The logo can be found on PET and glass bottles. The bottles are cleaned and refilled. Typically glass beer bottles

Glass

Non-refundable glass (like glass jars and wine bottles) must be recycled in the appropriate glass bins. Please remove the lids and corks.  There are separate bins for the different colours of glass for example Brown, white and green glass.
These bins are placed at various points and some apartment buildings have their own bins. 
Please respect the quiet times as breaking glass makes a lot of noise

Resources on the web

Not all items are free to dispose of, for some items you will have to pay a small fee. There is usually a limit of times you can dispose of items for free during a calendar year. You will therefore have to identify yourself with your ID or residence card. 

Disposing items at a Recycling centre /Recylinghof

You can dispose of wooden furniture,  electronic appliances, garden refuge, and other bulky waste items at the Recylinghof in your town. Proper disposal of certain items may come with a fee to cover the costs of safe and environmentally-friendly removal. There may also be a limit to how many times you can dispose of items for free in a year. To access these services, you’ll need to show your ID or residence card. This ensures responsible and fair use of the waste management facilities.
To find a Recyclinghof near you search for “Recyclinghof” or “sperrmüll” + your town/area.
Inform yourself beforehand of the opening times and fee structures.
Most towns also offer a free “Spermüllabholung” once a year. You can organise to have your bulky items picked up by the city. For more information contact your local authorities.

Related content

Gardening Rules

Did you know your garden and the local green spaces are living habitats for wildlife and insects?If you cut back or trim your plants too

Minijobs and hired help

Are you looking for services like cleaning, someone to look after the kids or help out with the gardening?The sites we list here are currently

Finding a place to stay

Finding a place to rent is almost like doing a job interview. You have to “advertise” yourself and you will have to go for interviews.

Did you know your garden and the local green spaces are living habitats for wildlife and insects?
If you cut back or trim your plants too soon, you are removing necessary pollen sources for insects, such as bees and butterflies. It can also reduce or eliminate habitat for birds and small mammals that are dependent on these  for food and shelter

According to Article 39 of the Federal Nature Conservation act (BNatSchG), excessive cutting and grafting of trees, hedges, shrubs, and woody plants are prohibited between 1 March to 30 September. This is referred to as Pflanzen-Schonzeit. 

You are allowed to gently trim vegetation for general care and maintenance. If birds are nesting a tree or bush, you are not allow to trim it.

Regional laws

Rules for gardening are also regulated by the federal states and sometimes also by the municipality. These can include the distance between trees, building a greenhouse, removal of lawn and bushes, stone gardens ( Schottergärten ) etc. Your rental agreement and home association rules can also dictate what you can and can not do. A common issue is plants or plant boxes on the balcony.

Some examples:

Legal

Schrebergarten (Allotment/urban gardens)

These are small inner-city gardens. Finding one to rent is extremely difficult. They are also known as Kleingartenanlae or Gartenkolonie. Wohnglück has an article on how to get a Kleingarten 

What else do you need to consider

 You are only allowed to mow your lawn from Monday to Saturday, from 7:00 in the morning to 20:00. You are not allowed to mow your lawn on a Sunday or public holiday. If your tools do not have the correct EU Environment labels, you can only use them from Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 13:00 and 15:00 to 17:00. The fines are quite hefty.

When there are flowers like anemones, tulips, crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths, snowdrops, lily of the valley and other bulb varieties on your lawn, you need to wait until the flowers and the leaves have completely died before you mow the lawn.

Weed Killers: 
The use of weed killers is only permitted on agricultural, horticultural and forestry areas. Weed killers may not be used on paved surfaces. These include paths and squares such as sidewalks, park and cemetery paths, garage entrances, courtyard areas, sports facilities, communal and commercial areas of all kinds. It is irrelevant whether the herbicides are approved or are home remedies such as vinegar or road salt. Violators face fines of up to €50 000. See the plant protection act for more

Vocabulary

English TermGerman TermInformation
Seedsdas Saadgut
Die Samen
Seedlingsdie Jungpflanzen
die Keimpflanzen
das Sämling
CuttingsDie Stecklingen
LawnDer Rasen
Die Liegewiese
Die Grasflächen
a lawnmower is der Rasenmäher
Gravel gardenDer Schottergärten
Overhang (tree branches)Der Überhang
GreenhouseDas Gewächshaus
TreeDas Baum
ShrubDer Strauch
BushesDie Büsche
TrimmingZurückschneiden
Trimmen
Hedge trimmers are Heckenscheren
LeavesDas LaubLeaf blower is der Laubbläser
Shovel
Gardenfork
die Schaufel or Gärtnerspaten
Die Grabegabel or Spatengabel
Ground cover plantsDie Bodendecker
Indoor plantsDie Zimmerpflanzen
CreepersDie Kletterpflanzen
WeedsDie UnkrautWeedkiller is das Herbizid
PestsDie SchädlingePest control is die Schädlingsbekämpfung
Plant potsDie PflanzentöpfeIndoors – Innen
Outdoors – Außen

Resources on the web

Related content

Housing in Germany

Types of Housing Flat – Wohnung / Apartment. Atlbauwohnung – An old building, that might be protected Dachgeschosswohnung – penthouse but usually with slanted walls

Minijobs and hired help

Are you looking for services like cleaning, someone to look after the kids or help out with the gardening?The sites we list here are currently

German laws and regulations

Disclaimer The information provided on this website is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should consult a

Types of Housing

  • Flat – Wohnung / Apartment.
  • Atlbauwohnung – An old building, that might be protected
  • Dachgeschosswohnung – penthouse but usually with slanted walls
  • Einliegerwohnung – Granny flat
  • Entangewohnung – Apartmentbuilding
  • Loft
  • Maisonette – duplex apartment
  • Penthouse
  • Souterrainwohnung – basement flat
  • Terrassenwohnung – must have a terrace
  • Wohngemeinschaften (WG) – Communal flat or house
  • House – Haus
  • Einfamilienhaus – Single-family house
  • Mehrfamilienhaus – Multifamily house
  • Furnished house (like Airbnb)

Vocabulary and Information

die WohnungThis could mean accommodation but mostly it means an apartment or flat
der Lebensraum
die Wohnfläche
der Wohnraum
The living space includes all the floor space of the rooms that belong exclusively to this apartment.  Immowelt has a very good explanation of how living space is calculated
das HausA house – can also mean home or domicile
das EinfamilienhausA free-standing residential building, typically for a single-family
das MehrfamilienhausMultiple separate housing units for residential inhabitants are contained within one building or several buildings within one complex. Units can be next to each other or stacked on top of each other
das ZimmerRoom.
die KücheKitchen.
Most properties (for rent as well) do not include a fitted kitchen and you will most
likely have to fit the cupboards, oven, fridge, etc.
You will have to look at the “Ausstattung”. If you want a place with a fitted kitchen look for one with an “Einbauküche”
Das BadezimmerBathroom.
Many bathrooms in apartments only have a shower or the shower is inside the bath
das WohnzimmerLiving room
der FlurCorridor, hallway
das TreppenhausStaircase
It can be a shared space
der HerdStove
die SpüleSink for washing up
die Garage / das StellplatzGarage or parking space
das GrundstückLand or plot
das EtageElevated floor
das ErdgeschossGround floor
1. Etage, 1. Stock, 1 ObergeschossFirst floor. It is the first elevated floor and not the ground floor

Resources on the web

  • Immowelt.de – a really good source of current information from types of housing, to disputes with neighbours. Available in German.

Related content

Television Licenses

Television Licence (der Rundfunkbeitrag/GEZ-Gebühr) The first thing you are likely to get in your new mailbox after registering at the Bürgeramt is a reminder to

Finding a place to stay

Finding a place to rent is almost like doing a job interview. You have to “advertise” yourself and you will have to go for interviews.

Are you looking for services like cleaning, someone to look after the kids or help out with the gardening?
The sites we list here are currently only available in German.
You have the option to hire someone on a more permanent basis (minijob) or use a company to supply the services as needed.
Please be aware of your responsibilities when you hire someone directly especially in the event of accidents or damage to property. Social taxes might also be applicable.

Minijob zentrale

According to the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, mini jobs are minor jobs with a maximum monthly pay of €450 or a maximum of 70 days work per calendar year.
The Minijob zentrale has information about the legal issues.
You can also search for services or register yourself for services

Betreut

A very nice website to search for services is Betreut.
They offer the following services:

  • Kinderbetreuung (Child care)
  • Au Pair
  • Nachhilfe (Tutoring)
  • Seniorenbetreuung (Care of the eldery)
  • Tierbetreuung (Pet sitting)
  • Haus & Garten ( Home and garden)

Studenten Vermittlung

Looking for a student to help you move your furniture?
You can find that and more on studenten-vermittlung

Artisans

Looking for someone to help with your home maintenance, plumbing, or fixing that wonky cupboard? 
There are a variety of websites out there that can help you find a handyman. Here are just a few that we recommend:

  • My Hammer – This website has an extensive range of services for all of your handyman needs. Whether you need help fixing a leaky faucet or installing new light fixtures, My Hammer has you covered.
  • Task Rabbit – If you need help assembling furniture, house cleaning, moving, or anything else, Task Rabbit is your go-to website. They have a large network of skilled professionals who are ready to help you get the job done.

Kinderbetreuung/Au Pair

If you are looking for someone to help your children with school work or look after them when you go on a date, you can find services on the Betreut website. 
To find a full-time Au Pair, search on Aupairworld  Facebook groups like Au Pair in Europe.
You can also look in your local newspaper or online community groups

Cleaning Services

Agents for self-employed cleaning staff or cleaning companies
Providers with employed cleaning staff or commissioned cleaning companies

Vocabulary

Cleaner die putzhilfe
Childcare die Kinderbetreuung
Eldery care die Seniorenbetreuung
Private tuition die Nachhilfe
Animal care or pet sitters die Tierbetreuung

Related content

Waste disposal and recycling

This is a general guide to waste disposal and recycling. Some rules may differ from town to town, for example, the collection of bulky waste,

Gardening Rules

Did you know your garden and the local green spaces are living habitats for wildlife and insects?If you cut back or trim your plants too

Pets

Dangerous (Banned) Dogs Some dog breeds are banned in Germany. There are additional rules for individual states.  Up-to-date information can be found on the Zoll