At first, it may seem like you need a PhD in order to understand Frankfurt recycling and waste separation rules!  However, with a little guidance, anyone can do and more importantly everyone MUST do it!  In essence, there are 4 bins at your disposal (see what I did there 😜) at home.  Namely Black, Blue/Green, Yellow/Orange and Brown.

Green/Blue Recycling Bins in Germany – Paper

First in line, the green and blue trash bins in Germany are for paper and cardboard.


  • Newspapers
  • Egg Cartons
  • Magazines
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Letters and envelopes
  • Shipping cardboard (folded)
  • Books
  • Bubble envelopes

Not Accepted

  • Drink cartons → Yellow sack/bin
  • Paper towels → Black/gray bin
  • Carbon paper → Black/gray bin
  • Dirty/grease pizza boxes → Black/gray bin
  • Parchment paper → Black/gray bin
  • Photos → Black/gray bin

Brown Recycling Bins – Biodegradable (Biomüll)

Next, it’s time to get composting! If however, you are not inclined to do it yourself, the council will do it for you by way of the trusty Brown Recycling Bin.  These brown bins are designed to collect organic waste that can be composted, which is a sustainable way to manage organic materials and reduce landfill waste. It’s an eco-friendly approach.

Also, you can often head down to your local Burger Buro to pick up the paper bags free of charge.


  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Other food waste
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds and coffee filters
  • Flowers
  • Yard waste (grass, leaves, trimmings, etc)
  • Potting soil

Not Accepted:

  • Non-biodegradable materials
  • Dog poo in non-biodegradable bags → Gray/black bin
  • Dirt → Gray/black bin
  • Ash → Gray/black bin

Yellow/Orange Recycling Bin/Bag – Plastic (Verpackung)

Now onto the yellow bag (Gelbersack) or yellow trash bin which is for soft metal, plastics and coated papers. All trash containers must be emptied and cleaned, dirty food containers are not allowed.

You can often head down to your local Burger Buro to pick up the yellow bags free of charge.


  • Plastic packaging
  • Metal
  • Non-refundable plastic bottles
  • Condiment bottles (must be empty and clean!)
  • Yoghurt containers
  • Non-refundable  cans
  • Composite packaging
  • Metal cans
  • Milk cartons
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic flower pots

Not Accepted

  • Dirty food containers (they must be cleaned first)

Grey/black Trash Bins – (Restmüll)

Last but definitely not least the grey/black bin.  Most household waste that does not belong in the bins mentioned above will then be disposed of in the Grey/Black trash bin.  Below we list some of the things that are accepted.  However, be aware to not overfill the trash bin or dispose of illegal items as this can lead to a fine.  If you find that you have an unusual amount of waste to dispose of you can buy black trash bins for a small fee from your local Burger Buro.  These can then be disposed of alongside your usual black bin.


  • Everything that does not fit above criteria
  • Respirators/Face Masks
  • Parchment paper
  • Bicycle Tires
  • Lighters
  • Rags/cleaning clothes
  • Facial tissues
  • Bandages
  • Diapers
  • Rubber parts
  • Dog waste bag

Not Accepted

  • electrical goods/appliances
  • batteries
  • CD’s and DVD
  • Ink Cartridges

Glass Recycling in Frankfurt

Dotted all around the city you will find large recycling bins where you can dispose of your glass waste.  It is divide into three categories namely white, green and brown glass.  Before depositing all your glass bottles double check that you are not entitled to Pfand ie a deposit back.

Pfand Recycling in Frankfurt

In Germany, cans and bottles (both plastic and glass) included in the Pfand system are usually marked with a special symbol.  Namely a ‘Pfand’ logo or ‘Pfand’ on the label.  The deposit amount varies depending on the type and size of the bottle but is typically around €0.08 to €0.25.  To properly recycle them and get your deposit back:

  1. Purchase beverages with a Pfand-eligible bottle.
  2. After consumption, rinse the bottle.
  3. Return it to a supermarket or store that participates in the Pfand system.
  4. Use a reverse vending machine or return it to the store’s designated collection point.
  5. You’ll receive your deposit back in cash or as a voucher, which you can use for your next purchase.

In short, this system encourages recycling and helps reduce plastic waste while also giving consumers an incentive to participate.

Recycling in Frankfurt
Recycling in Frankfurt