Crew Commentary

German Crew Member Explains Why Her Country is Tops in Recycling

Bob Leonard - Climate Risk Manager


Crew member Yvonne Koppen was born and raised in Germany and has lived in the United States, France and Spain. She understands the struggle of settling in a new home and is happy to share simple tips and tricks on how things are done in her home country, to help expats get their German experience started. Here she shares with us the German version of recycling… one of the most effective systems on Spaceship Earth.



Recycling in Germany is more than a thing. There is a good reason why Germany has the best recycling rate in the world – 56% of all municipal waste gets recycled. On average each person in Germany produced 187 kg of house trash per year in 2018. An interesting fact is that people in southern Germany produce a lot less trash per person than in northern Germany.


Why Is Germany So Good At Recycling?


The waste separation in Germany (Mülltrennung) is quite comprehensive and taken seriously. Not only by strict governmental and state policies but also by the Germans themselves. I was raised separating trash properly; it is as if it’s in our blood. Children are taught about recycling (and about climate change in general) in our public schools.


You should separate your trash the moment you produce it. Sifting through one big bag afterward is not so much fun, and throwing it into the trash unseparated will either lead to a fine, or your trash simply won’t be picked up.


This is a brief synopsis of a very detailed and comprehensive guide to Germany’s recycling program. It’s a system that works and should be emulated around the world. To read the entire article, visit https://www.simplegermany.com/trash-guide-germany/


We hope that after reading this trash guide for Germany, you feel more confident handling your trash. You have learned that Germany is the world champion in recycling waste thanks to its comprehensive and strict waste separation system.


It is not only enforced by the government and the city councils but also by your German neighbors. Do not be surprised if you get lectured by your neighbor, should they catch you throwing unseparated trash into the house bins. Please take it as a learning experience: waste separation and recycling are necessary for the health of Spaceship Earth.