06.11.2020 - Sustainability

What belongs in the yellow bag?


A total of 38 kilograms of plastic packaging waste; that's the amount that every German consumes per year.

That's a large amount, but very few of us feel guilty about it. After all the yellow bag is there to make sure rubbish is recycled correctly. 

This plastic waste is either recycled or incinerated to generate energy. Unfortunately, the recycling rate for plastic packaging is still low. There are many different types of plastic and if they are mixed together or permanently connected to outer packaging, the material can no longer be recycled. 

There’s also the problems we create by putting the wrong items into recycling bins, and the yellow bag, making it difficult to sort.


Here are our tips for using that all-important yellow bag correctly:

1. The yellow bag is only really there for packaging. There might be some exceptions, for instance some municipalities offer extended recycling bins, but only then can other forms of plastic such as toothbrushes or plastic toys be disposed of in this way
2. There has already been a lot of talk about plastic; the so-called “light packaging” that belongs in the yellow bag. Here’s what this includes:

  • Plastic packaging (for example the vacuum formed sausage or cheese packaging from the supermarket, shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, pasta bags and margarine tubs)
  • Packaging made of aluminium or tin (for example, deposit-free beverage cans, coffee capsules, empty aerosol cans, food cans, chocolate wrappers made of aluminium foil)
  • Packaging made from composite materials (beverage cartons, blister packs for tablets, coated paper from coffee-to-go cups, butter or frozen vegetables, foil or wrapping paper from the meat or cheese counter)
  • Polystyrene boxes from home deliveries or packaging from electrical appliances

3. The packaging must be empty, but doesn’t have to be rinsed out before being thrown away; it is sufficient if it is “spoon-clean”
4. It helps recycling if different materials are separated before disposal; a paper sleeve from pack of yoghurts, for example, or the aluminium lid from a plastic cream cup. When waste arrived at the recycling plant, materials are sorted, but materials attached to one another cannot be separated
5. It does not matter if there is not a green dot on the packaging 


Here’s a summary of items that do not belong in the yellow bag:

  • Glass packaging or containers
  • Packaging with contents should be emptied. Food goes in the green bin, packaging in the yellow bag
  • Packaging with paint or varnish residue, fertiliser or other chemicals (pollutant collection / recycling centre)
  • Transparent sleeves, such as that used on a ballpoint pen (residual waste)
  • File folders made of plastic or with a plastic cover (separate into the residual waste or components and then into the recycling bin), or made of cardboard (do not place metal parts in the paper bin)
  • CDs and DVDs (recycling centre – this type of plastic must undergo a specialist recycling process), floppy disks or video cassettes (residual waste; take to the recycling centre for large quantities)
  • Construction insulation materials made of polystyrene (must be disposed of by a specialist as they may contain harmful chemicals)
  • Waste paper (blue bin or paper container)
  • Old clothes (container, social department store or residual waste)


The fact remains: plastic packaging is often the best and most hygienic solution to enable the safe transport of goods. Often, plastics also perform better when it comes to protecting items from the elements versus other materials (like paper). So, we can't do without plastic entirely. However, we should pay attention to whether it is necessary and useful as a form of packaging. But that's another topic - more on that soon on our blog.

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