Only households with infected persons or justified suspicion of infection are exempt
Fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus also presents particular challenges for waste management in Germany. As people are spending more time in their homes than usual, they are generating more waste. Every citizen counts in preventing general waste bins from overflowing and observing hygiene rules. During the coronavirus pandemic, prevention of waste and correct waste separation is more important than ever. Only households where confirmed or suspected cases of infection are living under quarantine are exempt.
So far there are no known cases of contact transmission, in which people have become infected after touching contaminated surfaces. However, this transmission route cannot be ruled out. To protect caretakers, neighbours in apartment buildings and waste disposal employees, the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) in coordination with the ministries of the Länder responsible for waste disposal recommend the following precautions:
These rules apply to private households where persons infected with COVID-19 or suspected cases of infection are living under quarantine:
- Dispose of residual waste as well as packaging waste (yellow sack), waste paper and biowaste in the general waste bin.
- Put all of this waste into robust, tear-resistant refuse sacks. Do not throw single items such as tissues into the waste bin loose.
- Knot or tie refuse sacks to close them. Pack pointed and sharp items into unbreakable, non-penetrable single-use containers. Safely store refuse sacks to prevent, for example, animals from splitting these sacks and coming into contact with the waste or spreading it.
- Do not dispose of glass waste, containers subject to a deposit, waste electrical and electronic equipment, batteries or harmful substances with your residual waste. Separate this waste as usual after you have recovered and are no longer under quarantine.
The requirement of waste separation remains fully in place for all private households in Germany without confirmed or suspected cases of infection. The usual waste disposal scheme applies for these households.
The precautions are in line with the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). The Länder have agreed on comparable proceedings; some differences in details are possible.