Biodegradable Waste / Organic Waste

Biodegradable waste bins Berlin

Typical Berlin biodegradable waste bins - Photo: T.Bortels/

Whether you’re aware of it or not – but some part of your regular domestic waste is actually biodegradable waste. And in Berlin biodegradable waste basically stands for power, energy and carbon dioxide reduction. So you are kind of expected to separate your biodegradable / organic waste from the rest and place it in special trash bin. This may sound easy at first, but especially for nuBerliners this may be a difficult task to handle.

In Berlin we call this type of waste “Biomüll” – which could translate to “bio waste” or “bio trash”. Actually this type of waste has nothing to do with “bio food” (organic food) and should probably rather be called “Organischer Müll”  – but everybody just calls it “Biomüll” anyways and the related trash bin is called “Biotonne”.

Usually you should recognize the appropriate trash quite easily: it comes with a brown lid and often has a sticker labelled “BIO GUT” on the front – as you can see in the above picture. Like any other trash bin these boxes are usually picked up and emptied once a week.

What is biodegradable waste? What to put in the bio waste bin?

Since Berlin’s biodegradable waste is mostly turned into bio gas, the list of things you can dump in that brown lidded bin is a bit longer then you might have expected. And it also differs from what you would typically throw on the garden dump or the compost pile., The following things can be thrown in the Biogut-Bin:

  • fruits and vegetables – and parts of fruits and vegetables – also citrus fruits
  • tea, tea bags, coffee, coffee filters
  • egg shells
  • left over food – also already cooked food
  • flowers, plants, gardening waste
  • wrapping paper such as newspaper

How to actually collect biodegradable waste in your kitchen

Organic waste - bio trash binIt can be a bit challenging to actually collect biodegradable waste inside your kitchen. The waste can begin to rot and smell after a couple of days. Especially in the summer time it may even start stinking – and of course it may attract or even breed little flies.

There are however special bins available that are rather suitable to collect biodegradable waste. They are rather small and have a lid. There are also some combi-bins that fit well underneith the kitchen sink. In basically every supermarket there are paper bags available that are biodegradable (“kompostierbar”).  In my experience it works best if you place the paper bag inside the bucket bring the organic waste down to the bin every 3-4-5 days.

Here you can find further information about what does go into the the Bio-Bin and what doesn’t on the website of BSR:

You could also order special boxes and bags from Berlin’s trash handling service website for collecting biodegradable waste that are recommended by the pro’s:

»  Back to the main page about trash and recycling in Berlin.

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

6 thoughts on “Biodegradable Waste / Organic Waste

  1. EvdM

    You mention newspapers, but what about paper bags that you get from the baker, pizza boxes, and coffee cups?

    A trick I use to keep the bio from stinking is to place my container in the freezer, if you have room. This is why smaller bags are often better for me than a whole can lid system.


    1. t.b. Post author

      As far as I know there are no public bins. At least I only know of the bins you’ll usually find in the backyard.

  2. Hildegard Schönherr-Nichols

    You incorrectly state that using biodegradable plastic bags are OK to use for compostable waste (Biomüll). Please check with the updated BSR-page that clearly doesn’t allow that.


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