This blog post was written by our intern Anna (16 y.o.), who learned a lot about sustainability and the use of natural resources during her student internship at Kildwick. She shares her findings in a post series.
Here at Kildwick, sustainability and eco-conscious actions are taken seriously. For once, all products can be recycled or are fully bio-degradable. But what exactly is recycling? In this post, I’m looking at exactly that. And if you live in Germany, and do need help with that: I’ve also got a handy waste separation checklist for you to make you full-on recycling-savvy!
What does recycling mean?
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing waste in a way to obtain reusable materials. These materials can be used to manufacture new products. Recycling is what turns old PET bottles into new clothes or waste paper into brand new paper products. Recycling needs much less energy that the sourcing of new raw materials, reducing the carbon dioxide emissions and helping promote the climate protection.
Recycling and Kildwick
The entire Kildwick range can be recycled and is often made from recycled materials in the first place:
- the separation inserts
- canisters and containers
- toilet seats
- DIY kits
If you return your old separating insert (polystyrene) to Kildwick one day, the team can recycle it. In Germany, the urine containers can also be recycled. Kildwick toilet seats are made of bamboo and are therefore completely bio-degradable, just like the plywood kits. For shipping, Kildwick uses only paper and cardboard.
Waste separation in Germany: How to sort your trash – and recycle
Waste can be a treasure trove when it comes to valuable materials, both raw materials (substances occurring in nature) and recyclable materials (used materials contained in waste that can be processed to make new recycled materials). Recycling is always better than landfill. However, for the system to work, waste separation is vital.
Waste separation is simply about sorting and separation of different types of waste. In Germany, paper waste, glass waste, organic waste, plastic and residual waste are all different types of trash. The distinct blue, brown, yellow and black bins may seem like a lot but they are parts of an actually simple system that’s essential for correct recycling.
Consumer pre-sorting makes it much easier to recover the different recyclable materials from the rubbish. Without recycling there would be much more waste going unused and eventually polluting the environment. By simply paying more attention to waste prevention, waste separation and recycling, each and every one of us can effectively contribute to protecting the environment.
According to a study conducted by the Federal Statistical Office, every German resident produces around 220 kilograms of waste per year. In total, this means over 18.1 million tonnes of residual waste, bulky waste and paper waste for the entire country. For a family of four, this amounts to 880 kilograms of waste per year.
Germany leads the global list of top recycling nations. With the arrival of the Grüner Punkt („green dot“) back in 1991, Germany created the first system to produce new raw materials from used packaging; 65 percent of waste in Germany are recycled or incinerated, whereas in many countries around the world, from the USA to Indonesia, it mostly ends up in landfills.
So as you see, even the recycling top pupil can do better. But what can you do, how do you read the German trash separation colour-code?
We’ll get to in in a second, but here’s my top tip upfront: when disposing of plastic packaging, don’t scrub it squeaky clean – that’s a waste of water and energy. Just make sure to empty the cups and Co. properly.
THE RECYCLING AND WASTE SEPARATION DOs AND DON’Ts
„Gelber Sack“/ yellow (sometimes orange) bag or bin
- Yoghurt cups
- Aluminium lids
- Medical packaging/ blisters
- Plastic packaging
- Tetra Pak
- Lids from screw top jars
- CDs, DVDs
- Disposable razors
„Biomüll“/ brown bin
FOOD AND GARDEN WASTE
- Peels of citrus fruits
- Potato peelings
- Fruit and vegetable peelings and remains
- Tea bags (without metal clips)
- Coffee filters
- Foliage, flowers, grasses, plants
- Meat, fish, or cheese remains
- Cat litter, bird sand
- Organic waste bags
„Papiermüll“/ blue or green bin
PAPER AND CARDBOARD
- Envelopes, window envelopes
- Paper bags without plastic parts/uncoated
- Cardboard boxes (always disassembled and/or flattened)
- Tetra Pak
- Dirty paper
- Coated and thermal paper (receipts)
„Restmüll“/ black or grey bins
THE „OTHER“ TRASH – waste that can’t be recycled or household waste (e.g. porcelain, hygiene articles, dirty packaging, shoes, broken clothes, household items, vacuum cleaner bags).
- Food remains from meat, fish, cheese, eggs
- Coated paper
- Hygiene articles
- Ashes (cold)
- Cat litter
- Vaccum cleaner bags
- Dirty tissue paper and kitchen roll paper
- Broken household items (small), clothes and shoes
- Hazardous waste (for example, but no limited to: nail polish, perfume, dyes, batteries)
- Bulky waste
- Electrical appliances
- Everything that can be put into the other bins
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