Joint press release by the German Environment Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

Municipalities say thanks for separate collection of biowaste

Onion peels and other organic waste in a bowl on the kitchen table Click to enlarge
There is more to biowaste than waste...
Source: flobox /

The "Aktion Biotonne Deutschland" 2021 campaign to promote the collection of biowaste starts on 14 October. Through 30 November municipalities are thanking their citizens for the separate collection of biowaste. The six-week campaign involves various actions aiming at collecting larger amounts of biowaste and achieving more varietal purity. The Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU), German Environment Agency (UBA) and many other nature conservation and business associations, cities, administrative districts and municipal undertakings are supporting the national action weeks.

Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said, "Putting biowaste in the residual waste bin is a waste of resources. Separately collected biowaste becomes biogas and sustainable fertiliser. This is good for the climate and helps to conserve resources. Many people know this and are aware of the need to separate waste on a routine basis, for which I would like to thank them today. It is important for everyone to participate and collect organic waste separately. The easiest way to do it is to make use of the local authority's organic waste bin. That's why I'm campaigning for as many municipalities as possible to introduce the organic waste bin nationwide."

President Dirk Messner of the German Environment Agency said, "Organic waste has a lot of potential – for example as compost or for energy production. However, this potential can only be used if the waste is collected separately before recycling. Too much organic waste still ends up in the wrong bin. We have to do better in this area so that, in future, we can also recycle the large amount of biowaste that now ends up in the residual waste bin and being incinerated. That is what active climate and resource protection is all about."

The nationwide campaign promotes the increased collection of compostable kitchen and garden waste and reducing the amount of foreign matter in the organic waste bin. During the action weeks, municipalities all over Germany set up (virtual) events, also through the media. This year citizens are being thanked for their collection efforts, offering practical gifts for everyday use.

Biowastes are the largest separately collected waste stream in the municipal waste sector in terms of volume. The share of biowaste in the municipal waste stream in Germany can reach 40 per cent. Approximately 14 million tonnes of biodegradable waste are treated every year in composting and fermentation or biogas plants. In essence, this involves the contents of organic waste bins, biodegradable garden and park waste, market waste and other biodegradable waste from various sources. In 2019, around five million tonnes of organic waste and around 5.2 million tonnes of garden and park waste were collected separately via the organic waste bin – the equivalent of an average collection of 122 kilograms per resident per year.

Separate collection and recycling of biowaste is good for the environment and the climate. The fermentation of biowaste produces biogas, which replaces fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Biowaste composts and digestate can be used for fertilisation and soil conditioning, thus replacing primary raw material fertilisers and peat. However, too much biowaste still ends up in the wrong place. Around 39 per cent of the content of the residual waste bin contains improperly discarded biowaste – where it is irreversibly lost as a recyclable material.

Organic kitchen and food waste, garden waste and other organic waste such as small pet litter are generally suitable for recycling. However, high quality recycling requires properly sorted biowaste. This is why biowaste materials should be free of any foreign substances. In particular, packaging or products made of plastic (e.g. plastic bags and coffee capsules) do not belong in the organic waste bin because they will end up in the compost produced and reduce its quality.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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