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Overcrowded waste container

Among waste or garbage ( Swiss / schwäbisch also: sweepings , Austrian also: Mist ) refers to residues (formed in the preparation or manufacture of some remnant ) in the solid state , which liquids and gases in containers includes. Chemical residues are also known as waste materials .


Waste for 'household waste, rubbish', ahd. Mulli 'waste, garbage' (11-12. C.), MHG. Mulle , mul , mnd. Mül 'dust', nd. Mull , garbage 'loose soil' are like the collective education ahd. gimulli 'dust, debris' (9th c.), MHG. gemülle , gemül 'the attrition, crushing Incurred, dust, garbage' and the verbs ahd. mullen (8th / 9th century), mhd. müllen , müln 'pound, crush', anord. mylja 'grind, grind' as shrinkage-graded forms to grind the root ie. * mel (ə) - 'crush, beat, grind'. It was not until the 18th century that the garbage , which had previously only been common in North Germany, was incorporated into the standard German written language. Modern formations for this are garbage cans (19th century), garbage disposal, garbage chutes (20th century).

Kehricht , derived from the verb kehren for 'to sweep', was only used in the westgerm. testified verb occupied, ahd. kerien , kerren (8th century), mhd. kern , mnd. mnl. kēren , nl. keren and assumes germ. * karjan . The associated basic word should be in ahd. Ubarkara 'Unreinigkeit, Unflat' (10th / 11th century), isl. kar 'dirt' be preserved. Kehricht denotes that 'what is swept up , rubbish' (15th century) with an inorganically added -t (as with fruit ) next to kerach (15th century), kehrich (16th century ), which is older in terms of evolution .

Types of waste

Wild garbage dump on the edge of the forest
Waste container, as for example at bus stops is used
Overfilled garbage can
Left behind in nature

Linguistic usage

In addition to mineral waste, waste is generated in private households ( household waste ) and in industry ( industrial waste ).

Examples of household waste (household waste) are:

Other types of waste that mostly have to be disposed of in waste containers :

Examples of industrial waste:

Classification of waste in hospital:

  • A waste: commercial waste similar to household waste, recyclable materials
  • B-waste: hospital-specific waste (waste contaminated with secretions or excreta)
  • C-waste: waste with a risk of infection from notifiable diseases
  • D-waste: waste requiring monitoring (chemicals)
  • E-waste: Ethical waste (body parts, tissue residues, placentas)

Classification and declaration in waste law

There are international waste catalogs such as the OECD waste lists or the Basel Convention . The Basel Convention regulates the “control of the transboundary movement of hazardous waste and its disposal ”, which requires rules for the categorization of the types of waste recorded and for their designation in the monitoring and documentation procedures created therein. So far, 160 states, but not the USA, have committed to these guidelines.

For the European Union , the distinctions and designations of the European Waste Catalog (EWC) apply ; This more than 800 positions-containing waste list with which each type of waste assigned six-digit waste code , which to an asterisk * also complements capacity as hazardous waste featuring had to be implemented by 1 January 2002 by Member States. In Germany this happened through the Waste Catalog Ordinance (AVV). The term rubbish only appears here in Chapter 20 (municipal waste) as the penultimate type of waste no. 20 03 07 (bulky waste) and rubbish as street garbage (waste code 20 03 03); In the case of asbestos-containing waste, a distinction is made between insulation materials with asbestos (17 06 01 *), asbestos-containing building materials (17 06 05 *), brake linings (16 01 11 *) or used electrical devices that contain free asbestos (16 01 12 *).

In an effort to deal with waste properly, industries, branches of industry and specialist areas have developed that are grouped under the term waste management , see also recycling .

Waste generation

The global data differ significantly in the various statistics.

Municipal waste generation in Europe

The annual municipal waste generation in 2016 in kilograms per person (average EU-28 : 483 kg):

Waste generation in Europe (kg per capita)
country 2000 2010 2015 2018
EU-28 521 504 481
Germany 642 602 632 627
Denmark 664 789 777
Switzerland 656 708 725 720
Iceland 462 484 588 656
Cyprus 628 689 638
Austria 580 562 560
Netherlands 598 571 523
France 514 534 517
Greece 412 532 488
Italy 509 547 486
Great Britain 577 509 483
Spain 653 510 456
Poland 320 316 286 307
Romania 355 313 247 261
Estonia 453 305 359

Non-European waste volume 2003 (in kg / person)

  • United States: 760
  • Japan: 410

Waste generation in Germany

Around 411.5 million tons of waste were generated in Germany in 2016. That was 9.3 million tons more than in 2015. Construction and demolition waste make up more than half of the total amount of waste, e.g. B. in the form of excavated earth 125 million tons (soil and stones), building rubble 58 million tons and road demolition 16 million tons. Municipal waste, including household and packaging waste, accounted for around 52 million tonnes in 2016. This includes waste from trade and industry.

In terms of household waste only, the amount of waste generated in Germany fell by 3 kg per inhabitant in 2013. Overall, the amount here was 453 kg per inhabitant. Residual and bulky waste accounted for the largest share of household waste collected (around 41%). However, as in 2012, a downward trend was observed for residual waste. Around 32% of the waste generated in 2013 came from recyclable materials, the largest amount (5.8 million tons) of which came from waste paper. The total amount of household waste in 2013 was around 36.6 million tons, with discarded electronic devices not being included in the calculation.


According to the Federal Office in 2016, more than 80 percent of the total waste was "recycled or energetically recovered" - that is, recycled or incinerated to generate energy. 287.6 million tons of waste were recycled in 2016. Around 44.4 million tons of waste were energetically recycled, i.e. incinerated, including up to 70% of the plastic. After all, almost 17 percent of the waste was disposed of in landfills.

Garbage exports abroad

More than 15 percent of private and commercial plastic waste - several hundred thousand tons of waste - from Germany is exported.

Until 2018, some of the exported plastic waste went to China, before this state imposed restrictions on the import of the waste in March of that year.

On August 29, 2019, the television program Monitor reported that a significant part of this waste volume is being exported to Poland .

According to a report by Greenpeace from 2020, plastic waste from countries in the western world , including Germany , was found in several illegal landfills in Malaysia .

Per capita consumption (as of 2020)

The per capita production of packaging waste in Germany is around 220 kilograms per year. Almost 40 kilograms of it is plastic waste.

Legal classification

The more recent European legislation ( Directive 2008/98 / EC) has redefined the target hierarchy of waste management. The waste hierarchy should therefore look like this:

The previous general principle was: avoidance before recovery before disposal . Overall, however, the more environmentally friendly option has priority .

The legal classification of the waste is particularly important with regard to the further possible uses and safety and transport regulations. In Germany, waste is defined by the Recycling Management Act (KrWG). This law and the associated ordinances contain detailed regulations for the avoidance, recovery and disposal of waste.

Waste within the meaning of German waste law is “all substances or objects that their owner discards, wants to discard or has to discard” (Section 3 of the Recycling Management Act).

The question of mobility is of great importance in practice. So contaminated soil only becomes waste if it has been made mobile. Due to this legal situation z. E.g. on the construction site certain working methods are used before others so that contaminated soil - from a purely legal point of view - does not become waste:

According to German law, however, contaminated soil, which does not fall under the definition of waste, can fall under soil protection law . Then z. B. ordered a soil remediation by the competent authority .

Actual disposal is when the waste is actually recycled or disposed of, or when all physical control over a thing is given up. A will to dispose of it is assumed by law if the original purpose of a thing is given up and there is no immediate new purpose. Immediately here means “without further change” of the thing. There is also this willingness to dispose of in manufacturing processes when a substance is not purposefully generated. A typical example is the sawdust from a carpenter. A compulsory disposal occurs when the original purpose of a thing has been given up and there is a potential risk.

The term “waste” must be differentiated from the term “product”. As a rule, products are freely tradable and are not subject to the regulations of waste law, which provides certain conditions for transport etc. According to the general public, a thing has the product property if it was manufactured in a targeted manner, has a positive market value and meets quality standards. An example of the difficult distinction is pressed into pellets , ( briquetted ) and pre-sorted residual waste for incineration. At first glance, it may meet the requirements of a product. However, according to current jurisprudence, the point “targeted production” is not fulfilled, since it would certainly not be produced specifically if there were no residual waste .

Another important distinction is the difference between “waste for recovery” and “waste for disposal”. In the case of recycling, the focus is on making the material or energetic potential usable; in the case of disposal, the destruction of the pollutants or risk-free landfill is decisive. Recycling must be carried out properly and without damage. If the limit values ​​specified in the annexes to the Krw / AbfG and its regulations are not complied with, the respective waste is subject to stricter regulations with regard to transport and disposal options.

Waste treatment and disposal

The waste treatment can consist of the material or energetic recovery (waste disposal, e.g. processing, sorting in the waste sorting plant, etc.) of waste. That is, waste treatment plants are z. B. composting plants or fermentation plants ( biogas plants or dry fermentation ) for organic waste and scrap places (presorting of steel or iron and other metals ), waste incinerators (MVA) or mechanical-biological waste treatment plants (MBA).

Landfills are usually used to store waste for an unlimited period of time. They are divided into landfill classes according to the type of waste that can be landfilled.


Increasing waste disposal problems from illegal immigrants in South Africa

The biggest problems include:

  • the annual increase in the amount of waste generated
  • the frequent disposal in the waters
  • the pollution of the environment through incorrect disposal of problematic substances

Waste from every product occurs during all production stages (manufacture, distribution, storage). The most important causes of waste generation in the individual production and sales areas include:


  • Deviation from the required product and quality properties
  • Overproduction and bad planning
  • Errors in the manufacturing process (e.g. incorrect batches, labeling errors, production downtimes)


  • incorrect storage, damage during transport
  • Overstock due to unpredictable purchasing behavior
  • Damage to perishable goods (e.g. fruit and baked goods)
  • Expiry of best before and use by date (especially for food)

Bulk consumers

  • Hygiene and safety regulations
  • Calculation difficult when demand fluctuates strongly
  • poor storage

Private households

  • Bad planning, bad buy, missing overview of supplies
  • incorrect storage
  • Expiry of the best-before date (especially for food)

See also

Waste disposal
Waste incineration | Waste separation | Underground system (waste disposal)
Plastic waste in the oceans | Beach clearance | Environmental problem | Wild garbage dump


Web links

Commons : Garbage  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Waste  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Garbage  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Garbage that. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved on February 20, 2014 (meaning): "Waste (of the household), especially rubbish, ashes".
  2. Kehricht, der or das. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved on February 20, 2014 (meaning): "collected rubbish, garbage".
  3. Types of waste. In: Containerdienst.de. Retrieved May 27, 2015 .
  4. ^ Ronald Hackelberg: Waste in the hospital. In: Krankenhausökologie.de. Retrieved May 27, 2015 .
  5. Decision of the Commission of 3 May 2000 to replace Decision 94/3 / EC on a list of waste in accordance with Article 1 letter a) of Council Directive 75/442 / EEC on waste and Council Decision 94/904 / EC on a List of hazardous waste as defined in Article 1 , consolidated version 2015; on the implementation period Art. 4
  6. Annex to the AVV (like European waste directory)
  7. a b c d municipal waste indicato | Statistics. In: Eurostat. Retrieved October 1, 2018 .
  8. Garbage: How much garbage do Europeans create? In: ZEIT ONLINE . ( zeit.de [accessed on August 22, 2018]).
  9. a b c d e Germany: The mountain of rubbish is growing . In: Spiegel Online . June 1, 2018 ( spiegel.de [accessed June 2, 2018]).
  10. ^ Environmental statistical surveys: waste management. In: Federal Statistical Office . Retrieved May 27, 2015 .
  11. a b c d Nils Klawitter, DER SPIEGEL: Greenpeace study: Malaysia is becoming a German garbage dump - DER SPIEGEL - Economy. Retrieved May 28, 2020 .
  12. www1.wdr.de
  13. The recycling myth 2.0. Retrieved May 28, 2020 .
  14. Recycling Management Act, full text
  15. ^ Bavarian State Office for the Environment: Directive on waste. ( Memento from February 3, 2014 in the Internet Archive )