Don't buy black plastic – and other recycling tips you might not know


It's of huge benefit if glass containers don't break when they land in the bin. The less damaged the glass is, the easier it is to recycle. Photo: Silvia Marks/dpa

Everyone can contribute to increasing the amount of rubbish that gets recycled and the amount of valuable resources that get reused. Here are three lesser-known tips to help you make your contribution.

Buy products with light or transparent packaging

Black or very dark plastics used to package food and other products are usually not recognised by the scanners at recycling plants and so they aren't recycled, according to the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU). That's why it's helpful to buy light-coloured plastic packaging if you can.

Don't put bioplastics in the recycling bin

"Compostable" or "biodegradable" plastics are often problematic. Lots of manufacturers only suggest that these are compostable, according to the VKU. But that can be deceptive. They often have to be sorted out at composting facilities and then put into the general rubbish.

And even when they are genuinely compostable, the conditions in private compost heaps or in larger facilities are not enough to make plastics rot fast enough.

Even in plastic recycling plants the bioplastics have to be sorted out – they interfere with the recycling process because they're not made from traditional plastics. Ultimately they end up in the general rubbish.

Avoiding plastic in the first place when shopping is still the best strategy.

Don't smash glass jars and bottles into the recycling bin

This might sound a bit odd, but according to the VKU it's of huge benefit if glass containers don't break when they land in the bin. The less damaged the glass is, the easier it is to recycle, it says.

Aside from that, sort your glass according to colour if you can: brown glass goes in the brown container and green glass in the green.

Other colours, for example, blue, are best off in the green glass container because it's easier to incorporate them into the recycling process for green glass, according recycling experts in Germany. – dpa

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