Berlin Trash / Berlin Recycling

Berlin Trash / Berlin Recycling

Typical random trash in some Berlin street - Photo: T.Bortels/

When it comes to trash handling, the German approach might first look a bit complicated. A lot of trash and waste is actually recycled if it is dumped into the correct bin. But the variety of both public trash bins and private trash bins you may find in your courtyard often remain a mystery to many Berlin travelers and nuBerliners.

Different colors and shapes of recycling bins don’t really communicate, which bin is meant to be used for what kind of trash. And the labels, indicating what kind of waste should be put into what specific bin are often either in German or misleading or dirty or missing. So I’ll try to shed some light on how trash and recycling is handled in Berlin.

Currently Berlin has two major trash handling companies: the orange colored BSR (Berliner Stadtreinigung) and the blue colored ALBA. You may have recognized the large trash trucks driving around – the orange ones often labeled with more or less funny slogans like “We kehr for you”.

Additional to the trash bins located in your court yard, there are also public bins available for some types of recyclable trash. Most of these public recycling boxes are for glass, some for clothes. And then there is the official Berlin trash dump – or actually several Recycling Centers – where you can bring larger chunks of trash and all kinds of things you don’t need or want any more for either little or no money.

Waste bins, garbage cans and waste containers by color

The mapping of which waste belongs into which garbage can is probably regulated in a very similar way in other German cities and municipalities. However, things can get mixed up, so I would still like to list which waste belongs in which garbage can:

  • Black garbage can
    As a rule, the so-called ‘rest waste’ belongs in the black garbage can – i.e. everything that does not go into the other garbage cans or recycling containers or belongs with bulky waste.
  • Yellow garbage can
    The yellow bin is there for your packaging waste. This is probably mainly plastic packaging and tin cans.
    Read on: Packaging waste, plastic, wrapping, other recyclable material
  • Blue garbage can
    The blue garbage can is for paper and cardboard. Please ‘unfold’ cardboard boxes first or cut them into small, flat pieces before you throw them in the garbage can. If you always throw cardboard boxes into the garbage can as a whole, you run the risk of the garbage can filling up quickly – then a second garbage can may be set up at some point, which will of course be sooner or later reflected on your monthly utility bill.
    Read on: Paper and Cardboard recycling
  • Brown garbage can
    There often seem to be questions about the brown garbage can. As a rule of thumb, In Berlin, all organic waste that can be converted into bio gas goes into the brown garbage can. This includes, for example, fruits and vegetable peelings, but also leftover food and expired food – but always without packaging. Plastic bags, which are supposed to decompose, are not ment to go in the organic waste garbage can. Flowers, plants and herbs are not a problem – but potting soil is.
    Read on: Biodegradable Waste / Organic Waste

The official Berlin trash dump / BSR Recycling Center (“Recycling Hof”)

The easiest way to get rid of ‘old things’ is probably to bring them to one of the so called ‘Recycling Hof’ (Recycling Cente) of Berlin’s trash handling service BSR. Appliances and electronic devices like old TV Sets, computers, electronics,  furniture, batteries, liquids, CDs etc. you can leave there for free. For some things however, trash that should actually go to the regular trash bins, you’ll have to pay a small fee.

Recyclinghof Asgardstraße
Recyclinghof Behmstraße
Recyclinghof Berliner Straße
Recyclinghof Brunsbütteler Damm
Recyclinghof Fischerstraße
Recyclinghof Gradestraße
Recyclinghof Hegauer Weg
Recyclinghof Ilsenburger Straße
Recyclinghof Lengeder Straße
Recyclinghof Nordring
Recyclinghof Oberspreestraße
Recyclinghof Ostpreußendamm
Recyclinghof Rahnsdorfer Straße
Recyclinghof Ruppiner Chaussee
Mechanische Behandlungsanlagen Gradestraße
Müllheizkraftwerk Ruhleben

BSR Recycling Shop NochMall

And then there is also the BSR Recycling Shop NochMall at Auguste-Viktoria-Allee 99
in Berlin-Reinickendorf where you can buy second hand goods of all types that would have otherwise gone to the dump or actually to the oven: furniture, cothing,  electronics, books etc.

Of course you can also leave or donate things and goods to the Recycling Shop NochMall – things you would normally throw away. These three locations accept things that ares till in rather good shape:

  • Gebrauchtwarenkaufhaus NochMall
  • Recyclinghof Gradestraße
  • Recyclinghof Hegauer Weg
  • Recyclinghof Lengeder Straße

Find out more on the website:

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Do you have and thoughts, suggestions, additional recommendations or comments? Please feel free to leave your comment below. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Berlin Trash / Berlin Recycling

  1. Jessie

    Thanks for this post! Do you know of any scrap metal places where they will pay you for a bag of random metal pieces? I had a place like this in the US, but cannot seem to find one in Berlin…

  2. Aditi Kapur


    Thanks for this, super helpful. Am currently working on a design project based on Berlin trash disposal, so any amount of information helps right now.

    Quick question, where should rubber items like rubber gloves be disposed of? Yellow or black bin or none?


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