How to properly separate
The guidelines for waste separation vary from country to country and sometimes even within different regions. You can get information on the local standards for sorting paper, plastics, glass, organic and household waste at your place of residence or vacation from the municipality or the responsible disposal company. In this way you can support established recycling processes. Example Germany: except for glass and paper, all packaging materials such as plastics, aluminum, tin and composite materials (e.g. beverage cartons) should be disposed of in the “yellow bin”.
How to sort glass
Empty bottles and glass jars should be sorted according to color. Put white, brown and green glass in the appropriate bottle bank. All other colors should also go into the green bottle bank as different colored glass pieces are problematic in recycling white and brown glass.
Containers don't have to be sparkling clean
Plastic and glass containers as well as cans do not have to be washed out before disposal because the materials are cleaned before processing anyway. Nevertheless, the containers should be empty. So just scrape out yoghurt cups and soup cans thoroughly with a spoon.
Not all kind of paper
Not everything consisting of paper automatically belongs into the paper recycling bin. Thermal paper (e.g. parking tickets), coated paper, wet wipes, used paper plates stained by food, dirty tissues and leftover wallpaper cannot be used for paper recycling and belong with the general waste.
Plastic packaging often combine different types of plastics. For the sorting facility it is important to easily separate them according to type. You can help them by completely detaching the lids from yoghurt cups so that the materials are separate, for example. And do not stack empty plastic cups together to save space but put them into the bin individually.
Save space but keep separate
Generally it is a good idea to save space in the bin or container by folding up empty beverage cartons or crushing disposable plastic bottles. Packaging made from different materials should, however not be stuffed into one another so that sorting facilities can easily separate the different materials for further processing.
Less packaging waste
While out shopping choose products that have little or no packaging at all. In the fruit section, for example, you frequently find loose and packaged apples right next to each other and you can simply choose the loose ones. Or you can buy bulk portions such as a sack of apples containing one kilo.
Use cloth bags
Many supermarkets no longer offer plastic bags and only cloth bags that can be used time and again and even be cleaned in the washing machine. If used for a long period of time cloth bags are not only more sustainable than plastic bags but also more than paper bags. So just take your own cloth bag or shopping basket next time you go shopping.
Choose quality over quantity
Choosing quality pays off in many products. Even if the initial cost of a high-grade product is higher, you and the environment will benefit over time. Get information on long-lasting products and rather save up for a purchase instead of buying the same cheap product over and over again.
Try to avoid cans and aluminium
A lot of energy is needed in the production of cans made of tin or aluminium. Try to avoid especially short-lived products made of aluminum such as tinfoil or coffee caps and choose cans that have a proportion of recycled material.
Choose reusable packaging
Reusable glass bottles can be refilled up to 50 times, reusable plastic bottles upt to 25 times. Compared to disposable bottles and cans which are used only once. You can easily identify reusable bottles by various labels. You can also upcycle pretty glass containers. A nice yoghurt cup can easily be transformed into a vase, for example.
We throw away too much food often with ist packaging. Think about what you really need before going to the shop – this will spare your purse as well as the environment. In making a detailed plan of which foods you will need for cooking within a certain amount of time you can avoid that excess food goes off in the fridge and ultimately lands unused in the bin.
Think before you print
We often print out e-mails, documents or notes that only end up in the bin because they are not really all that important. Just consider for a moment if it is really necessary to print out something or if it isn‘t enough to save a document or note to your desktop.
Upcycling instead of downcycling
Waste doesn‘t equal waste. Using a little imagination, many products can be transformed into something new. Like a cupboard made from old wine crates or a vase made from old glass or plastic bottles. Here are a few creative ideas.