In the eighth chapter, we talk trash. It’s a topic we deal with on a daily basis and where we can change something in our personal life.

Why is this relevant?

We are a throwaway society. We often dispose away many products after one use or replace broken items instead of repairing them. This leads to an enormously high waste production. In Germany, up to 13.1 million tonnes of residual waste are produced every year – the equivalent of the weight of 1,300 Eiffel Towers! [1] This amounts to a total of about 5 million tonnes of CO2 eq. To absorb this amount of CO2, one would need a forest area of 500,000 ha, which is as large as 2.5 times the area of Monaco! This waste, as well as commercial waste and plastic waste, must be recycled, e.g. in waste incineration plants. This also produces highly toxic dust that has to be disposed as hazardous waste [1]. Unfortunately, a lot of recyclable materials and even 40% of compostable organic waste end up in residual waste. Recycling reduces the consumption of finite raw materials, such as oil or coal, and completes the cycle of materials that are already in circulation.

CO2eq also includes the other greenhouse gases that have been converted into the equivalent amount of CO2 [2]).


What can i do?
  • Borrow/exchange instead of buying new
  • Repair instead of replacing
  • Reuse instead of disposable (applies to all areas of life!)
  • Recycle properly
  • Avoid packaging
  • Prefer refillable packaging
  • Rethink consumer behavior

With an average consumption of 200 disposable bottles per year, you can save about 28 kg of CO2 with just one drinking bottle!

Waste prevention

for already purchased
  1. Find alternative uses, upcycling :

There are many DIYs where you can make new things out of old and broken materials, such as making a cleaning rag/wadding pads out of clothes or a storage box out of shoe boxes.

2.     Find a new user:

Second-hand extends the life of your clothes/shoes/electrical appliances and is much cheaper too! Possible via: Friend: in, clothes swap parties, Kleiderkreisel, eBay Kleinanzeigen

Before shopping
  1. Buy reusable products
  2. Make your own
  3. Find the most environmentally friendly packaging
  4. Avoid packaged products
Plastic issue

Plastic is cheap to produce, but does its utility outweigh its many disadvantages? In 2015, 407 million tonnes of plastic were produced worldwide, 36.5% of which was used for packaging. [4] Apart from the fact that this is a lot of waste, the main problem remains disposal.  Only 14% is recycled, 40% ends up in landfills, 14% is incinerated, producing toxic gases, and the remaining 32% percent ends up in the environment, in the ocean, waterways and landfills. [4]

Careless disposal causes 30 million tonnes of plastics to end up in the ocean worldwide every year. [6] This is particularly dangerous for animals, which get entangled in plastic nets or suffocate on small plastic particles.

Last but not least, a lot of microplastic ends up in our rivers, lakes and in the tap water, we drink every day. This creates unavoidable health hazards, also for us humans.

Every week your body absorbs an average of one credit card worth of microplastic!

[7] nach (Abbildung)


The largest garbage patch in our oceans is three times as big as France! [5]


Get together with friends and clear at a Clean Up your neighborhood of rubbish lying around.

Waste separation

1. Mum, can I recycle this?

Who could forget that question? Often we are unsure which garbage goes where and, as we all know, mom always knows everything better. But if you move to a new city or away from home, your roommate usually knows as much as you do – namely, not exactly how to recycle what. Although Germany is often portrayed as the recycling world champion, over 50 percent of recyclable waste still ends up in residual waste (AWM Report 2016). Why? This may be because we are often unsure whether and how things need to be recycled and therefore choose residual waste. That’s why, in this chapter, we’ll provide you with some simple info and facts that will guarantee you have waste separation under control!

2. How to separate correctly

In Munich, AWM (Abfallwirtschaftsbetrieb München) takes care of waste disposal for residual waste, paper and organic waste. For the daily disposal of glass, plastic as well as aluminum and cans there are an additional 1000 recycling collection points throughout Munich.

AWM provides a map with all recycling collection points. If something larger needs to be disposed of, you can drive to a recycling center nearby – they are usually no more than 5 kilometers away from your home.

Plastic, glass, aluminum

These materials can be discarded in the recycling islands – including plastic, because there is no yellow bag in Munich.

But what exactly belongs where? [1]


  • Beverage cartons
  • Plastic packaging
  • Plastic bottles
  • Plastic cups
  • Styrofoam
  • Packaging films


  • Glass beverage bottles
  • Coserve glasses
  • Glass bottles
  • Other glass packaging


  • Aluminum foil
  • Cans
  • Lids
  • Spray cans
  • Crown caps


Ich habe ganz speziellen Müll

You have something very special lying around, like a car rim, an antenna or shells from your last vacation, that you no longer you no longer need but are not on this list? No problem!

The AWM has compiled a waste encyclopedia on its website, in which all possible types of waste are listed.

Good to know

For remnants of paints, cleaning agents and co. the AWM’s Giftmobil drives through the city. When is it where? Just look here

What happens with my garbage?
  • Residual waste is incinerated unsorted
  • Biowaste is used for energy generation: e.g. for electricity and heat
  • Plastic can be turned back into plastic depending on the type, but this is only possible for 7% of all plastic waste in Germany
  • Glass is turned back into glass without any loss of quality
  • Metals can be recovered from aluminum: e.g.: beverage cans, window frames, and car parts

Living plastic free

1. Zero Waste

The idea behind Zero Waste is to develop a circular economy in the long term in which all materials can be reused. In this way, fewer resources are consumed and no more waste is produced. However, living completely without waste production will remain a utopia – it is much more about looking for alternatives and doing one’s best! [1]

2. Plastic-free – is it possibble?

There are already many bulk shops in Germany. In addition, more and more supermarkets offer loose items for filling. The important thing here is to be prepared, you should have a vegetable net, jars, boxes and a bag with you. This way, nothing stands in the way of your plastic-free shopping!

This also works without bulk shops

Do more stuff yourself (Chips, fresh cheese, vegan milk, tea)

• Use different stores (international stores, weekly market)

• Buy in glass (deposit) or cardboard if possible

• Use your own containers (to-go or when shopping)

• Grow your own (herbs, fruits, vegetables)

• Buy beans & chickpeas as dry goods

• Buy durable products in large quantities (e.g. nuts)

• Order the Kornbox (= unpacked shipping) [2].

What is more sustainable?

Beverage carton
– disposable
– poor recycling rate

+ low net weight

glas bottle:
– poor return logistics
– long transport routes and weight
-> buy regional!

+ reusable & recycling without loss of quality