Garbage can

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Garbage cans for biowaste, residual waste, packaging and paper 2009 in Heidelberg, Germany
Various garbage cans in Austria

A dustbin , trash or waste containers (MGB) (also bin , waste and recyclable material container (AWB, def. EN 840), ash bucket , ash buckets , garbage cans , waste bucket , dustbin , trash , garbage container or refuse collection vessel ) is a container for the intermediate storage of the waste . It usually consists of a robust plastic material (usually HDPE , high-density polyethylene ) that is resistant to climatic influences such as frost or sunshine (UV rays). This is necessary because the containers are often outside. Occasionally, metal bins are used, for example when disposing of hot ashes or for waste containing oil and acid at petrol stations .


An outdated colloquial term for a garbage can is ash bucket, ash bucket, ash bin, etc. The origin of this designation lies in the fact that many households were heated with coal stoves well into the 20th century and the ashes were then disposed of in the garbage can; In addition, the amount of rubbish was significantly lower at the time than it is today, so that in addition to kitchen waste, ash actually made up the main content of the bins. Although the containers were made of metal at the time, like today's garbage cans, they often bore the label “Do not fill in hot ashes” , because hot, still smoldering ashes could set fire to the remaining waste in the bin, which is especially true in buildings where the bins were kept in cellars or other storage rooms posed a great danger.

Ring garbage cans made of sheet steel 1991 in Graefenhainichen, Germany

In the past in particular, there were the classic garbage cans without wheels, which are known as ring garbage cans (110–120 liters) or system trash cans (30–50 liters). These containers have hardly been used since the 2000s. They were moved by turning or with a special cart. But you could also carry it on the side handles, which required a lot of strength with a full garbage can. At the end of the 1960s, large plastic rubbish containers (MGB) appeared for the first time in West Germany (Iserlohn). The ring garbage cans have also been made of plastic since the 1960s. For example, ring garbage cans were used almost exclusively in Cologne until around 1998, and these have now been largely replaced by large garbage bins. Up until the 1980s, there were only ring garbage cans made of sheet steel in East Germany, which were referred to as garbage cans in the city codes of large cities, while the municipal codes and statutes of rural communities mostly referred to ashbins. It was not until the 1980s that large sheet steel containers were introduced. After the political change in the GDR and the introduction of the Deutsche Mark , most East German waste disposal companies bought large plastic waste containers from exclusively Western European manufacturers who replaced the large sheet steel waste containers.


Garbage stamps around 1990
A garbage can with a gravity lock

Two wheels make it easier for the garbage collector to move the large garbage container.

The large refuse containers have comb strips (MGB 60 - 1100 l), lateral stub axles and cover pins (MGB 1100 l), so that they can be picked up by the hydraulically driven emptying of the refuse vehicle. There are different types of comb strips:

  • Form A according to EN 840 (also called DIN comb mount; with "step-shaped" comb strips)
  • Form B according to EN 840 (similar to the DIN comb, but with lead-in bevel)
  • Form C according to EN 840 (called AFNOR according to the French norms; single-stage comb strip)
  • Diamond or MSTS (Multi-Service-Transportation-System) recording; a holder developed for sideloaders in the 1980s for special pouring, which has the shape of a diamond
  • Comb mount similar to the AFNOR comb, but with rounded corners; Distributed in Sweden, Norway and Denmark by a Swedish manufacturer
  • Company-specific European special variants of the comb holder, which as a rule also permit "mixed operation" with standardized containers according to EN 840

During the revision of EN 840 in 2012, Form C (AFNOR) was abandoned and since then has been successively replaced by form A containers with comb holders. There are guidelines for the container and bed design in the text for the RAL quality mark 951/1 (quality and test regulations for mobile waste and recyclable material containers made of plastic). The garbage cans are emptied on a fixed date. There are garbage cans with different volumes. The monthly contribution that has to be paid for waste disposal in Germany is determined differently. Usually the fee is based on the volume of the garbage can, less often the garbage is weighed. The minimum volume of the bin is partly to be determined based on the registered residents. In Switzerland, the calculation is based on the so-called bag fee .

The garbage disposal collects the garbage from the garbage cans. There are different systems to ensure that it recognizes those bins for which emptying fees are paid:

  • Issuing of garbage tokens that are attached to or glued to the bins
  • Individualization of the garbage cans by means of an RFID chip and automatic data acquisition on the garbage truck

The latter system was introduced a few years ago together with a special disposal program in Emden . Those who wanted to take part (almost 150,000 residents) could purchase a garbage can with a gravity lock and two matching keys from the city for € 15. These bins can therefore be locked so that unauthorized persons cannot dispose of rubbish there. In this way, the owner of such a bin only pays for the waste that he wants to dispose of himself. With the Emder disposal system, the waste fee is calculated based on the weight incurred. The garbage trucks in Emden have a special weighing system: the weight is scanned in and the data is forwarded to the city administration. At the end of the year, this department then creates a detailed statement for the waste incurred, which the owner receives at the beginning of the following year.

Unlike in Germany, due to the climate, in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, garbage cans are often emptied daily. Since the effort for the collection at the individual houses would be too great, there are 1000 liter containers on public roads. Garbage trucks with side loading devices are mainly used in one-man operation. Billing based on the individual amount of waste incurred is difficult here; the fee is usually calculated based on the living space and the number of people in the household. Billing systems in which individual chip cards or coded keys have to be used to throw in the garbage still appear unsatisfactorily cumbersome and have so far not been able to establish themselves on a large scale.

Other garbage cans

A garbage container

Rubbish bins are mostly black (or gray) in Germany , but they are also available in other colors. In Germany there are also brown, green, yellow and blue bins, whereby the assignment of the color of the garbage can to the desired content is regulated differently from region to region. Most of the time, the brown bin is used for organic waste , which is composted and rotted into humus . Increasingly, the organic waste is also fed to a bio (waste) fermentation plant, where the organic waste is converted into energy (electricity and / or district heating) for energy generation. The yellow bins are used for recyclable materials. These are mostly separated and recycled by the DSD (see also: Green Dot ) . The black (or gray) bins are mostly used for residual waste and blue bins for paper waste. The green bin is used for glass recycling in Berlin and parts of Württemberg , in the same parts of Württemberg and in areas of (Northern) Bavaria it is also intended for paper garbage, although there are no blue garbage bins here. In some parts of Germany, to beautify the cityscape, the garbage cans are provided with a “little coat” printed with a motif, which is called “a barrel sock” in technical terms.

For a larger amount of waste and forbidden types of waste in local rubbish bins, waste containers serve as a transport unit for waste disposal. In addition to the higher filling quantity (from 3 m³), ​​types of waste such as construction rubble or mixed construction waste, bulky waste and scrap can also be disposed of here.

In Switzerland , compost is collected separately in most municipalities. Other recyclable waste ( paper , glass , tinplate, etc.) is either picked up separately or has to be handed over to a waste disposal point.

The following rubbish bin colors are common in Austria : black or gray for residual waste, red for waste paper and cardboard, yellow for plastic waste (especially PET bottles), green for stained glass (green, brown and blue glass is collected together in contrast to Germany), white for uncolored glass, blue for sheet metal cans (tinplate and aluminum), brown or dark green for organic waste. Often the bins themselves are gray, brown or green and only the lids are in the color that marks the garbage collection. For organic waste, lids with ventilation (for evaporation) and the inside of the barrel cleaning by washing and brushing were developed in order to minimize unpleasant smells and insect infestation. So-called multifunctional containers , which are optimized to be automatically emptied by side-loading vehicles, have recently been used.

Types and standardization

a metal trash can and many rectangular plastic containers on a motorway service area

Mobile waste and recycling bins (AWB) according to EN 840-1 to 6

AWB are standardized for the European Union in EN 840. A distinction is made there between containers with two wheels and a capacity of up to 400 liters (EN 840-1) and with four wheels and a capacity of up to 1300 liters (EN 840-2 / -3). Two-wheeled garbage cans with a capacity of 120 and 240 liters according to EN 840 are widespread worldwide, but theoretically all volumes between 0 and 1300 liters are taken into account in the standard. From the product history of the various manufacturers, however, special tolerances have been defined for a more common size. B. for the volume are broader than the normative standard of ± 10% for two-wheeled or ± 5% for four-wheeled AWB. Special tolerances and dimensions can be found in the current version of EN 840 (version 2012) for 60 l, 80 l, 120 l, 140 l, 180 l, 240 l or 340 l / 360 l as well as for four-wheel AWB with 500, 660, 770, 1000 and 1100 liters.

A German manufacturer also offers so-called Vario bins, which consist of a basic container (120 l / 140 l) and can be reduced to 35 l, 40 l, 50 l, 60 l, 80 l with a special insert as required. Four-wheeled large waste containers (regionally called waste containers ) usually have a volume of 660 l, 770 l, 1000 l or 1100 l and either a hinged flat lid (EN 840-2) or a sliding lid (round lid) (EN 840-3). Round lid containers are only available in 770 l and 1100 l and have had to be fitted with a child safety lock for a number of years to prevent the lid from accidentally closing. When it comes to child locks, a distinction is made between a push button solution and a spring lock. Both solutions keep the sliding lid open at a position of around 200 mm so that children cannot be trapped and strangled by the lid falling. The lids can only be completely closed through conscious action. Since 2003 there has also been the option of a small insert lid ("lid-in-lid") in the front area of ​​the sliding lid, which eliminates danger to children.

Become rare in Germany are cylindrical trash cans of the original German design SMT (System garbage can), also known as ring ton are called. They are standardized in DIN 6629 ( garbage cans for low-dust emptying ) and have a capacity of 70 or 110 liters.

In 2012, some cities in Germany still used SME-type garbage cans (system trash cans). They are available in sizes of 25, 35 and 50 liters.

All standardized waste containers have a discharge receptacle to the container by means of lift that is mounted on the garbage truck emptied. There are many different types and designs.

Mobile waste and recycling bins (AWB) with Diamond holder (DU system)

DU container

AWB with diamond holder (DU system) were presented in the 1980s as a potential further development of the DIN containers (today EN 840). The aim was to facilitate the emptying process, in particular the positioning of the waste container in the emptying receptacle. Suitable vehicle embankments are equipped with a receiving device that resembles the shape of a diamond. The containers are characterized by an apron-like front mount which is either integrated into the product or mounted on EN 840-compatible containers. To date, the Diamond system has not been taken into account in EN 840, as its distribution is essentially limited to Germany, BeNeLux and, occasionally, in other European countries. DU containers are described in the appendix to RAL GZ 951/1.

Mobile waste containers according to US ANSI standard (ANSI Z245.60 - 2008)

In the USA, AWB according to the European standard are rarely found, as the vehicle and bulk material technology in the USA is very different from the European one. For two-wheeled garbage cans, grabbers (grippers) are widespread, which were developed for round waste containers. Accordingly, modern American waste bins are i. d. Usually equipped with a round “waist”, which is often equipped with knobs or a rough surface to prevent slipping in the gripper. Side-loading vehicles equipped with grippers are often referred to as "automated". The containers are listed as type G containers in ANSI Z245.60 - 2008.

As an alternative, small hydraulic dumps are also used, which tip the two-wheeled container over the often low loading edge of the refuse collection vehicle. This technology is often referred to as "semi-automated". In ANSI Z245.60 - 2008 these containers, equipped with a receptacle under the upper edge and a handle on the front of the container (called lower lift bar), are listed as Type B containers.

2-wheel containers with a comb mount in accordance with EN 840 and DU containers are listed in ANSI Z245.60 - 2008 as type C containers or type D.

Garbage cans in other regions of the world are usually derived from either the European standard or the American standard. However, the distribution of containers according to US standards (ANSI Z245.60 - 2008 types B and G) is limited to the direct sphere of influence of US manufacturers in North America, Central America and the northern part of South America. Containers according to European standards can be found in all parts of the world and are included in national standards, e.g. B. in South Africa and Australia found.

Garbage cans all over the world


Web links

Commons : Garbage cans  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Garbage can  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Archived copy ( memento from August 1, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) RAL GZ 951/1
  3. The waste weighing system of the Emden construction and disposal company ( Memento from April 21, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Garbage can boxes in Austria:
  5. RAL GZ 951/1. ( Memento from August 1, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  6. DU container in the Rastatt district. In: Waste management company of the district of Rastatt, accessed on August 5, 2016 .
  7. a b c d (PDF).
  8. ^ Norwich, CT - Official Website - Automated Garbage & Recycling Collection. In: Retrieved August 5, 2016 .
  9. APWA Reporter - Improving Quality: Small-town America's battle for cost automated refuse collection. In: Retrieved August 5, 2016 .