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Organic waste is not waste – it is a resource. No matter whether it is used to produce compost or to generate energy: residual organic materials from households and gardens can always be put to sustainable use. It is, therefore, far too valuable for the residual waste bin. The current Federal Recycling Law stipulates that, as from the beginning of 2015, organic waste should be collected separately from other waste streams. This decision was made to drive recycling activities in this area – but very little has changed around the country so far.
Despite the fact that schemes had to be in place to collect organic waste separately from other material streams at the beginning of the year, there are still regions in Germany that do not have organic waste bins. The Federal Environmental Agency believes that between 57 and 69 of the corporations responsible for waste management were unable to provide a separate collection service for organic waste on 01 January 2015.
Organic material does not belong in the residual waste bin: it is a valuable and sustainable resource.
There is no specific deadline as to when the local authorities must have provided their local residents with appropriate wheelie bins to ensure the organic waste in their regions is collected separately. Experience has shown, however, that this is by far the most effective way of making the most of the ecological potential of organic waste. At the end of the day, there will always be people who are not prepared to take their organic waste to a central collection point or do not have the logistical means to do so. Kerbside collection schemes, therefore, increase the volumes of material actually collected. Local residents are also more motivated to join in as such systems are so convenient.
For many years now, REMONDIS has been providing local authorities and their residents with convenient solutions that have led to excellent recycling results. The company’s portfolio of services ranges from supplying various sizes of organic waste bin, to providing a reliable collection service, all the way through to managing the recycling processes. These organic materials are used to produce high nutrient, quality assured composts, substrates and mulch – or as a source material for generating carbon-neutral energy.
Entsorgungsbetriebe Essen GmbH (EBE), a waste management business operating in the German city of Essen, was one of the first companies to collect organic waste from households. This public private partnership between the City of Essen (51 %) and REMONDIS (49 %) established a separate kerbside collection scheme for organic waste back in 1996 – almost exactly 20 years ago. Initially introduced as a pilot scheme in a number of city districts, it was then implemented throughout Essen in 2002. The organic waste bin has become a normal part of life with around 30,000 being used around the city and emptied via a fortnightly collection service.
A colourful trio: EBE supplies a range of grey, blue and brown bins
Property owners in Essen are free to choose whether they wish to use these bins for their residential and commercial buildings and can order them from EBE. A number of different sized bins are available – from 80l bins to 1.1m3 containers – and the owners are charged a small fee for using them. The users benefit financially, however, despite this charge as people using organic waste bins generally reduce the volumes they throw into their residual waste bins, which are more expensive.
From tree and grass cuttings, to potato skins and coffee grounds, to sawdust and wood shavings: EBE provides information on the finer points of separating organic waste. It has not, however, launched extensive information campaigns on separating organic waste – and why should it? Segregating organic waste from other material streams is second nature to the people living in Essen.
Besides supplying organic waste bins, the city also operates six household recycling centres which accept garden waste – a free service if the amount of material the people wish to hand in is less than one cubic metre. A great opportunity for hobby gardeners: they can use this additional service to get rid of their garden waste when their organic waste bin is full and ensure these valuable organic materials do not end up in the residual waste bin.
Organic waste bins have been provided across the City of Essen despite its largely metropolitan structure