Waste separation in gastronomy: These are the most important regulations for waste disposal in gastronomy

Mülltrennung in der Gastronomie: Das sind die wichtigsten Vorschriften zur Abfallentsorgung in der Gastronomie

As nice as the smile of a satisfied guest may be when serving café or pasta, at the end of the day, unfortunately, the work that arises after the preparation - apart from washing up and cleaning - is also annoying. We are talking about the universally disliked and never loved waste separation. Where to put oil residues, cash register receipts and what exactly is actually allowed in the residual waste?

Spoiler: There are also clear laws in Germany that you should adhere to, otherwise it can quickly become expensive. So that you not only save money in the future, but also help the environment, we explain everything you need to know about proper disposal for your everyday catering in this article. We'll also tell you how you can easily avoid unnecessary waste without stress. Let's talk dirty!

Sample Pack Straws


Our free sample pack of drinking straws is the perfect choice to test our thoughtfully sustainable straws.

What types of trash are most common in the foodservice industry and how do you separate them properly?

Even at first glance, it's obvious that garbage in the restaurant business is found in almost every room: in the office, in the bathroom, but also at the table and - the number one waste stronghold - in the kitchen. You canread about how to rid the kitchen of plastichere .

Especially in places where people cook, there is a lot of waste:

  • Organic waste, especially leftover fruit and vegetables
  • Paper and cardboard boxes
  • Plastic, foils, cans
  • Glass containers
  • cooking fats and oils
  • Other waste

Here it can be useful to first make a small inventory in order to identify potential savings and to use them later. It's best to do this audit regularly to keep track of your waste. Depending on your business, it may also be a good idea to have a waste officer who can keep an eye on things and guide regular inspections. Just find out what works for you; again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Admittedly, we too are sometimes at a loss with our garbage in front of garbage cans and containers and are not always sure what actually belongs where. If in doubt, it's certainly advisable to get more information beforehand on the Internet or at the appropriate collection points, because misdirected waste costs a lot of time - and money - later on. After all, anyone who is inspected and can be shown to often separate rubbish incorrectly may be subject to penalties.

In general, our waste can be divided into five different categories, all of which have their own bins:

  1. The yellow sack or the yellow garbage can primarily contain lightweight packaging made of plastic and metal, i.e. juice and milk packaging as well as food cans and composite materials. It is important that the packaging is "spoon clean", so empty out any remaining food waste beforehand.
  2. Waste paper such as paper scraps, cardboard boxes and also packaging and brochures made of the two materials can simply be disposed of in the appropriate garbage can or, in the case of larger quantities, directly in the appropriate container. By the way: Receipts are made of paper, but of thermal paper and should therefore be disposed of in the residual waste in order to exclude the detachment of harmful substances during recycling.
  3. Likewise, glass belongs in containers, although here the separation between colors is essential for proper recycling. Ceramics, porcelain and the like are out of place here, however, as are window panes and drinking glasses. By the way, the same applies to all glass products that cannot be identified by color or cannot be assigned to any of the containers (spirits): Treat them like green! Because "wrong" glass in the green container can be compensated later with the recycling, other throw-ins with white or brown glass can already mean loss of valuable glass with the processes for new packing.
  4. In the biowaste all materials come, which can be degraded biologically, thus above all remains of fruit and vegetables, in addition, coffee filters and paper towels. This also has its own garbage can, into which you can empty the kitchen trash can daily, ideally you even have a compost. The residual waste, as the name suggests, is for everything that doesn't belong elsewhere. This includes light bulbs, hygiene products and cigarettes.
  5. But what now with fats, oils and food leftovers? The former should be separated from the leftovers on the plates. Fats and oils should therefore preferably be disposed of in a separate garbage can, which is then emptied regularly by appropriate companies and, at best, replaced with a clean container. The same applies to containers for food waste. By the way, you should keep these at low temperatures until they are collected using a confiscate cooler in order to avoid odors and vermin.

To prevent too much food waste from ending up in the garbage can in the first place, you can also think about alternatives at this point. For buffets in hotels, for example, it is a good idea to make open dishes available to employees after meal time or to find out about food sharing alternatives - this way you not only save space in your garbage can, but also do something good. For tips on how to reduce waste in your hospitality business while also becoming more sustainable in other areas, such as water consumption, check out .

By the way: The collection of food waste and oils is sometimes associated with costs; organic and residual waste also cost money. With gallons of waste in large companies, the whole thing can therefore easily add up to a lot of money. So it pays to find out about low-cost but certified companies. The size of the bin can also bring real savings, because every liter costs more. The bottom line: the cheapest waste is the waste you don't produce in the first place.

Wegweiser für Abfall richtig trennen

Overview of waste separation

To give you an overview, here is another table showing the top types of waste and where to dispose of them correctly:

Fruit and vegetable scraps, paper towels, kitchen towels and coffee filters:

Organic waste

Milk and juice packaging, plastic bottles, cling film, food cans, tubes, aluminum foil, composites (e.g. butter wrappers):

Yellow bag/yellow garbage can

Receipts, products made from biogenic waste materials such as our #IAMPLASTICFREE drinking straws and bags, hygiene products, cigarette butts, trash:

Residual waste

Paper scraps from the office, cardboard boxes (crushed, in pieces), newspapers, brochures:

Paper waste

Bottles and other container glass:

Glass container

Cooking oils and fats, deep-frying fat:

Fats and oils (containers)

Leftover food from plates, meat and fish scraps:

Leftovers (containers)

5 tips to easily avoid unnecessary waste

Save garbage? We would all like to, but we also know that it is sometimes not so easy in everyday life. When things get stressful at work, people tend to throw their resolutions overboard and end up throwing away more than they would like. But there are a few places where you can easily cut down on waste. We have already summarized our best tips for making your restaurant a little more plastic-free for youhere . But you can also produce less waste in other places:

1. storing ingredients correctly is half the battle

To prevent food from going bad in the first place, waste prevention starts with proper storage. And with food you can save a lot, because here, as with packaging, a lot of waste goes into the garbage can. In addition to correct storage according to temperature and location, sorting according to purchase and expiration dates can also make a decisive contribution to waste prevention. Systems with boxes are ideal here, where fresh ingredients, for example, are stored in lower compartments and those to be consumed further up. A system can also work wonders in the refrigerator. You can also buy products that you use a lot in larger packages instead of smaller ones, and vice versa.

2. who buys cheaply, has twice garbage

Even small livestock makes crap! Investing in suitable and high-quality knives is very worthwhile, because a lot of edible food is lost during food preparation. This will save you a lot of waste when cutting meat, but also when peeling fruit and vegetables, which can then be put to good use on your guests' plates instead of in the garbage can.

3. know your customers

A look at the menu and the plates of your customers can be worth money. Which dishes are loved by your customers and which are real "cardholders"? Find out what your guests want to eat and focus on seasonal menus with products from the region - customers appreciate high-quality products. One half wants fries, the other lettuce with a burger? Try the modular principle and let your guests choose their own side dish. Another problem that you are often confronted with: The customers like it, but there's still something left over. Encourage your customers to bring their own containers or use to-go packaging made from sustainable materials. Alternatively, you can offer two different sizes of your dishes, so there's something for everyone's appetite.

4. make your leftovers the highlight of the day

If you have a certain amount of ingredients left over that are about to spoil, why not create a dish of the day out of them! On a chalkboard in front of the entrance, it will certainly become a customer magnet and your team can get really creative again. If there's not quite so much left, but you still don't want to deprive your guests of the leftovers, then simply offer your creations as a small amuse-gueule with the aperitif. Even if it does not meet the taste, your guests will certainly be happy about it.

5 It's all about communication!

You want to produce less waste? Then communicate this to your guests. Put small signs at the buffet, in the bathroom or at the table and show them that you are committed to sustainable gastronomy. Ask them to think about whether it should be a large portion or a second helping later and whether you really need a new napkin for every course. You will see: The effort will pay off and food, paper towels and the like will be less and less likely to end up in your waste garbage cans. And who knows if your sustainability might not be contagious for one or the other guest?

Müll vermeiden am Buffet

This is why waste separation is so important

The answer is as simple as it is important: recycling. Packaging from the yellow bag that can be recycled only goes to the appropriate place if it is also in the bag. In other words: separation is the key! Recyclable packaging can be further processed in the next step. The situation is similar for glass and paper. Everything that goes into the residual waste is later incinerated and has no sustainable benefit. In addition, the incineration process releases some CO2 into the environment.

Sample Pack To-Go


The first truly plasticfree and uncoated Cups made from 100% cellulose. Don't believe us? See for yourself!

Our tip: If you wanted to try to create less to no packaging waste in the first place, we have collected a few tips and incentives for youhere .

So that the right materials come into the recycling, the garbage must be separated - everything else makes only work and microplastic succeeded more easily into nature. And not even that little: Since there are no suitable machines for the fine waste separation yet, the selection of "wrong" garbage is taken over by hand, which costs money and with the quantity just above all resources. In particular, incorrectly sorted organic waste can contaminate packaging to such an extent that its recyclability is severely limited, not exactly a nice idea, is it? So by recycling, some of the resources that were previously taken from the environment can be preserved and reused, and this also has a positive effect on the climate - take that, greenhouse effect!

Save money and do something good for the environment with waste separation

There is no patent remedy when it comes to waste. Whether you're a small café or a Michelin-starred restaurant, how, where and how much waste can be saved is ultimately a fairly individual story. But even with (strategic) baby steps you can go far, if they go in the right direction! Our tip: Start with separation and gradually declare war on waste; after all, masters don't just fall out of the sky here either.

Garbage means Money and wastes - wrongly separated - valuable resources. The motivation invested here to inform, sort and analyze savings potential is therefore doubly worthwhile. What's more, less waste also means less wasted work and time - so why not put both of these into tomorrow's daily menu today?

LinkedIn Logo zum Teilen Facebook Logo zum Teilen
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.