I am new in Germany, and I am failing in recycling, thus I couldn't help but posting here, asking for help, let me know if this is off-topic!

My bottles are:

  1. Plastic bottle of orange juice
  2. Glass bottle of extra virgin olive oil
  3. Carton bottle of milk

Which ones of the above are eligible for recycling in Germany (of course I will clean them first)?


I think 1 yes, 3 no, after reading How does German Pfand system work?, but still it's unclear about 2. I have to go by foot to the nearest recycling machine, so an answer will be much appreciated!

PS: I guess what's the answer for any US/European country would fit Germany as well..

  • Hello and welcome! I edited the formatting of your question a bit. Also, looks like you meant to post a link for the milk carton but left it off? – LShaver Nov 18 at 21:44
  • Hey @LShaver thanks, correct-edited! – gsamaras Nov 19 at 8:01
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Good question, the german recycling system can sometimes be a little overwhelming. First, don't mix up "Pfand" and "Recycling".

"Pfand"-bottles will go back to the manufacturer, be cleaned and reused. None of your pictures belongs to the "Pfand" system. But all three can be recycled. The glass-bottle should be the easiest: search for the nearest "Glas-Container" und put it in there (e.g. link to picture)

The bottle #1 and the milk-carton should go into your local recycling system, organized by an organization called "Grüner Punkt". Your community ("Landkreis") should either have a yellow-ton ("Gelbe Tonne" picture) or a yellow-sack ("Gelber Sack" picture) available for each household.

In short "Grüner Punkt" collects money from every manufacturer of outer packaging, and uses it to organize the recycling process.

edit: fix broken image link

  • Werner, good answer! It seems that you are right, thank you very much! – gsamaras Nov 19 at 8:06
  • Welcome to Sustainable Living! Nice first answer! If the images are copyright free you can include them directly in your answer by clicking on the 'image' button (on top if you click "edit" below your answer). That will upload the image to an external service used by StackExchange website so the images are preserved if the original image links break. – THelper Nov 19 at 10:01
  • @THelper: Thank you for the hint - unfortunately i couldn't find pictures, which are guaranteed to be copyright free :-( – Werner Grünberger Nov 20 at 15:19
  • Perhaps you could find some pictures in Wikipedia. I would also have emphasised that returnable containers (Pfand) are preferable and said that many containers indicate on them whether or not they are returnable or recyclable. There is also a good resource (if you can read German) for interpreting the environmental implications of labels on products: siegelcheck.nabu.de . – PJTraill Nov 22 at 22:53

Just to expand on Werner's excellent response as well as your original linked article: Pfand eligible bottles will usually have some sort of designation on the bottle itself; often times there will be an icon like this and / or the term "Pfandflasche" on the label. Most grocery stores will have an automated kiosk like this to return them and you will receive cash back.

  • Yes, this seems to be the case, tnx – gsamaras Nov 25 at 9:03

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