Recycling in Germany, on and off post

By USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs

Germany has a very thorough waste sorting system with up to five or six different categories of waste and practices that vary from county to county, and occasionally from city to city, so things can quickly get confusing.

To help residents sort through the mess, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart offers two in-depth guides to recycling that outlines specific procedures for both on-post residents and the four major counties in the Stuttgart area. These guides, along with the general overview provided here, should help most residents to do their part to contribute to our host nation’s impressive recycling efforts.


On-Post Recycling

For on-post residents, things are relatively simple. Clearly-labeled containers are available in all housing areas, and the online guide details which items can and cannot go into each container.

Residents living off post should note that bringing trash on post to dump is prohibited except for hazardous materials such as paint, cleaners, and lubricants to the Re-Use Center on Panzer Kaserne, Bldg. 2958. These items must be in their original container, unopened and not expired.

Off-Post Recycling

One of the most common frustrations for Americans living off post is having a much smaller trash bin. Trash cans are based on family size and are usually adequate as long as recyclables and other trash are being properly sorted. Larger families who find themselves constantly overfilling their trash bins should consider talking to their landlords about getting larger cans, although this may affect the monthly trash fee and a landlord will likely pass that cost on to the renter depending on the specifics of the rental arrangement. Residents may inquire for more information about a larger trash can at local city offices, but in most cases it will ultimately have to be the homeowner or landlord who orders the larger bin.

For off-post residents, getting rid of extra trash is not costly. In fact, it’s sometimes free, but does take some effort and coordination. Some areas have recycling centers and city dumps where residents can take their trash, and almost all areas have procedures for residents to request pick-up of bulk trash and other non-standard waste. These pickups can be free of charge but are usually only offered a limited number of times per year. Contact the agency in your area for more information.

Although specific procedures vary, most programs divide trash and recyclables into six categories: trash/rubbish, recyclables, paper, organic waste, glass and hazardous waste.

There are differences in how trash and recyclables are handled in the four major Stuttgart-area counties—the main difference being the various bins and how items are sorted. Glass is handled much the same at various recycling points, while hazardous materials and bulk trash have their own, specific requirements.

In Böblingen County, home to Panzer Kaserne, there are four bins, all black, but with color-coded lids. A black lid is for trash, an orange lid is for recyclables, a green lid is for organic and a blue lid is for paper.

The city of Stuttgart uses three bins and the yellow sack, or gelbe sack. A black bin is for trash, a green bin is for paper, a brown bin is for organic waste and gelbe sacks are used for recyclables. Gelbe sacks are distributed free of charge at city halls and should only be left out on the curb the day before or day of collection.

Ludwigsburg County uses four bins and groups recyclables and paper together. Two green bins are used on a rotating schedule for “flat” and “round” recyclables (including paper). Flat paper and recyclables includes most normal paper products, books, magazines and similar items, as well as flat plastics like plastic bags, and flat pieces of plastic and Styrofoam. Round paper and recyclables includes plastic bottles, cans and similar products. For a more detailed description, see the online recycling guide.

Sperrmüll or bulk trash is residual waste that is too big for the regular trash bin, but does not exceed a given size. For example, in Böblingen, it cannot exceed 2 meters by 1.2 meters by .8 meters, and must weigh less than 60 kilograms per piece. Mattresses, cupboards, bed frames, furniture, carpets, mirrors, suitcases, skis and surfboards are all examples of common bulk trash items.


The European Ecolabel helps to identify products and services that have a reduced environmental impact through their product life cycles. The next time you’re shopping for food, appliances, clothing, paint, etc., look for the one with ecolabel, Blaue Engle or Energy Star logos. The German “Blue Angel (Blauer Engel) ecolabel is awarded to products and services which, from a holistic point of view, are of benefit to the environment and meet high standards of serviceability, health and occupational protection. Find out more about ecolabels and about the Energy Star.

For more information on recycling in Stuttgart, Germany, call 421-6134.

For bulk waste, office furniture turn-in on-post, or hazardous material recycling, call 431-2071 or 07031-15-2071, or the Chief of Supply and Services at 431-3413 or 07031-15-3413.

Units should coordinate with the Böblingen Training Area coordinator for container contracting contacts to dispose of mixed use waste as a result of training exercises.