A rubbish experience

Deutsch: Bozen-Bolzano — Bioabfalltonne {| cel...
A Biomüll bin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of all the things about life in Germany, that annoy, amuse or simply puzzle me, the one thing I hate the most and don’t think I’ll ever get over is dealing with the Biomüll.
Time for a little German lesson at this point, I think. Bio means organic (lots of Bio shops around here!) and Müll is, well, rubbish – or trash if you prefer (hi Americans!). So Biomüll is organic waste or, in other words, food. This includes all fruit and vegetable peelings, but also leftovers, any out-of-date stuff that needs to be thrown away, teabags and – bizarrely – corks (although some areas have special cork collections as well). All of this waste goes in a special, separate bin to your ordinary household waste. So unless you want to troop all the way to the outside bin every time you have mashed potatoes for tea, you are expected to have what is basically a compost heap in a small container in your kitchen – unless you happen to live in Mannheim city centre, where there are no Biomüll bins. Instead food waste goes in the “Restmüll” – Rest meaning “everything else” basically. The decision on which types of bins to have outside is taken by the individual town (although the law states that there must be recycling bins, in some form or other) but as far as I know only Mannheim Stadt have chosen to do away with Biomüll. So I have to put up with having my compost container in the kitchen. However, having the thing there isn’t really a problem. It’s a perfectly simple system – recyclables (other than glass) in one bin, vegetable peelings in another and everything else in a small carrier bag we keep for the purpose (there isn’t much Restmüll). Glass and bottles that have a deposit on them go in the cupboard ready for either returning or taking to the large glass containers that are dotted around the place. All very easy. The problem comes when the Biomüll needs to be taken down…

This is actually supposed to be Jan’s job  – along with washing the dishes, although I am actually more forgiving on the latter and usually end up doing them myself. Most of the time, Jan actually does take down the Biomüll – if only because I nag remind him constantly until he does – I really, really hate the Biomüll! However, this time Jan had let it build up for several weeks (despite my comments!) and still didn’t take it down despite having an entire day off on Thursday. Supposedly to pack, but he didn’t do that either until 10 o’clock at night! Since he is now away for a week, and the stuff in there was getting to the stage where it no longer looked like food and I was beginning to fear it might actually come to life and take over the kitchen, I had no choice but to take the evilness down. So I grabbed the little bin, taking care to hold the handle with as few fingers as possible, and headed down two flights of stairs to the courtyard out the back. Once there, I opened the Biomüll container – causing a cloud of flies to swarm into my face –  and emptied our food stuffs onto the remains of everyone else’s that was already in there.

Bubbly Bins Dirty BinUnfortunately, I had forgotten to put the handle down, so the remains of the Biomüll bag (made of potato starch so it, too, turns into compost – and this one had already started to dissolve!) hung itself over it, meaning I had to use my finger to remove it. At this point I was almost physically sick! That trauma over with, I then had to take the Biomüll bin back upstairs using that very same handle – now covered in whatever horrid liquid substances had been lurking at the bottom of the bin. Needless to say, the first thing I did on reaching the top was wash my hands! Next followed the washing out of the dirty bin – squirt in a tonne of all-purpose cleaner, fill the kettle to the max. line and boil it, pour a couple of jugs of hot water from the tap into the bin while waiting for the kettle to boil, add boiling water, boil kettle again and add more boiling water, leave to soak for a while. Later the horrid mixture goes down the toilet , with lots of swishing around and pouring from different angles to makes sure all the edges get clean. Once the bin has been thoroughly rinsed out, it goes back to the kitchen to dry before having a new potato starch bag put in it, the toilet gets cleaned and the trauma of taking down the Biomüll is over. Until next time…


6 thoughts on “A rubbish experience

  1. oh god. that does sound horrible. i’d hate to take out the bio trash myself but glad that you guys are doing it. now i wonder who does it for the people here in Singapore… we don’t separate trash. we should, but we don’t. not in the households anyway.

    1. I did! haven’t decided yet whether I like it. I think I need less pages so the top is less messy.

      There is no Biomüll in England either – it all just goes in with the regular rubbish. The Germans are fanatical about recycling though. And if you get caught not putting things in the right bin the bin men can actually refuse to take them away until you sort it all out properly! A most unpleasant thought.

  2. Ewww that sounds gross! In my town we don’t have any waste collection for food – just paper, cardboard etc. It is easier, but it means that if you cook from scratch (which I do) you end up with lots of bags of stinking rubbish that only get collected once a week!

    1. It is gross!! I think the Biomüll here only gets collected once a week, but at least it’s all together in one bin I suppse, and not stinking up the other one.
      I don’t think anyone but the Germans has a bin especially for food waste. Even the Dutch don’t – and they’re pretty environmentally conscious!

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