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Home / City Hall and Service / Waste / Biowaste / Kitchen and green waste

Don't hesitate to contact me:

Office of Waste Management and Municipal Cleansing
(Amt für Abfallwirtschaft und Stadtreinigung)
Hardtstraße 2
69124 Heidelberg
Phone 06221 58-29999
Fax 06221 58-29900

Biowaste bins (Photo: City of Heidelberg)

Kitchen and green waste

Kitchen and green waste

Turning biowaste into high-quality compost

Kitchen and green waste are too precious to put in the residual waste bin – they go in your brown biowaste bin. The contents are taken to Wieblingen composting center, where they are turned into various high-quality, low-peat potting and seed composts that members of the public can buy at reasonable prices in the five Heidelberg recycling yards (Recyclinghöfe) for their own gardens, flower pots and balconies. 

Sort it!

But waste needs to be properly sorted before it can be turned into compost. If there are any foreign substances mixed in with the waste, these need to be painstakingly removed at the composting center in order to achieve an efficient composting process. 

What goes in the biowaste bin:

Egg shells, coffee and tea filters, fruit and vegetable peelings etc. (including orange and banana peel), cut flowers, hair, newspaper for wrapping the waste, weeds, etc.

What doesn’t go in the biowaste bin:

Dust etc. swept off the floor, cat litter, vacuum cleaner bags, diapers, sanitary products, cigarette butts, bones, medicines, fabric, wool. This is all residual waste, and goes in the residual waste bin (Restmülltonne). Plastic bags must also not be put in the biowaste bin. 

Weekly emptying of the biowaste bin in the summer

From the beginning of July to the end of September, those biowaste bins that would normally only be emptied two-weekly are emptied weekly instead. The additional collections take place on the same day of the week as the normal two-weekly collections. 

  • Users of the ‘Basic service’:
    Please put your biowaste bins out yourself each week.
    During the summer, i.e. during the period of weekly collection, bins covered by the basic service (Teilservice) must be put out by 6 am on the day of collection. Please position the bin handle towards the street.
  • Users of the ‘Full service’:
    ‘Full service’ (Vollservice) bins will be put out for you, emptied, then returned to their position next to your property. Hence users of the full service have no more work to do in the summer than during the period of two-weekly collection.

Tips for avoiding unpleasant smells

Although biowaste bins are emptied weekly in the summertime, in hot weather and if the bins are not used correctly, unpleasant smells can develop. These tips from the customer service team of Heidelberg’s Waste Management Office will help you to avoid these unpleasant odors.

  • Keep your biowaste bin in the shade if possible.
  • If you can, regularly douse your bin in cold water.
  • Line the bottom of the biowaste bin with a thick layer of absorbent paper (e.g. newspaper), and carefully wrap your kitchen waste in absorbent paper before putting it in. The paper will help absorb the moisture, and can be composted along with the waste.
  • Do not press the biowaste down. This can cause residues to stick to the bottom of the bins, quickly leading to unpleasant smells. 

Avoid compostable plastic bags/bin liners

In the shops you can find biodegradable plastic bin liners, made especially for biowaste bins. We recommend you do not use these compostable bin liners. During the pre-sorting of the waste in the composting center, these bags need to be mechanically removed along with other impurities, and treated as residual waste.

When we tried composting biodegradable packaging materials and films, we found that even after six months they had not yet fully composted. This is too slow, because at Heidelberg’s composting center, the waste only has 10 weeks in which to degrade.

We therefore recommend you use the cheaper alternative, newspaper or paper bags, for wrapping biowaste in. Paper absorbs excess moisture, and additionally plays a useful role in the composting process itself.

Where to put dead leaves in the autumn time

Dead leaves can simply be put in the biowaste bin along with your kitchen and other green waste. This includes leaves collected from roads.

For larger quantities of leaves, you can buy biowaste bags from the local administrative offices (Bürgerämter). These should be placed at the edge of the road by 6 am on the day of collection.

Where biowaste is normally collected two-weekly, it can also be put out in the intervening week if necessary. Dead leaves and green waste that do not fit in your bin can also be taken free of charge to any recycling yard.

Preventing your biowaste from freezing in the winter

In very cold weather, problems can often occur due to the contents of the biowaste or residual waste bin freezing onto the sides of the bin. This occurs particularly when bins are very full, or the waste put in the bin is very damp.

Heidelberg’s waste collectors always give the bins a good hard shake to get the waste off the sides. However, there is a limit to how hard they can shake them, as otherwise this could damage the bins. If, despite shaking, the waste is still stuck firm, then the bin cannot be fully emptied. If this happens, the user must use a spade or other tool to remove the waste from the sides or bottom of the bin.

The Office of Waste Management and Municipal Cleansing offers the following recommendations for preventing this situation:

  • Line the bottom of the bin with a layer of newspaper, and put more sheets between the layers of waste, to absorb excess moisture as far as possible.
  • Give damp waste such as coffee filters plenty of time to drip-dry before putting them in the bin.
  • Ideally dislodge any waste from the sides of the bin one more time before putting the bin out for emptying.
  • If possible, keep your bins out of the frost, for example in a garage or next to a building wall, until as near as possible to the time they are emptied.