Hygiene madness – 720,000 Germans are said to deliberately violate waste separation
Status: 07:42 a.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes
Anyone who is in quarantine should cram all of the waste into a bin. This should protect neighbors and waste disposal companies from the corona virus. However, it is disputed whether there is any danger at all.
VPacked in the yellow sack, leftover food in the organic waste bin – the Germans boast as world champions in waste separation. Not least because the Recycling Act obliges households to sort them. If you don’t follow it, you have to expect that the garbage disposal will leave the bin standing.
Hundreds of thousands of households are now said to be deliberately violating the separation rules – those in which people are in quarantine. Instead, you should throw all household waste into the residual waste bin, including packaging, leftover food and waste paper.
More and more municipalities are pointing this out due to the increasing number of quarantine cases. The reason: caretakers, neighbors and garbage collectors should be protected from becoming infected with the virus through contaminated garbage. Most of the content of the gray bin ends up in the incineration plants.
In addition to the lifting of the separation requirement, the garbage should be stowed in stable and tear-resistant rubbish bags and should never be thrown loose in the bin. Consumers should pack sharp objects separately in disposable containers.
Exceptions to the one-sack rule for people who are insulated apply to glass and batteries as well as other electronic items, returnable packaging and harmful substances. These should dispose of those affected as usual after the quarantine has been lifted. However, there can be regional differences.
Residual waste bins are likely to increasingly overflow
The municipalities are thus following a recommendation from the Federal Environment Ministry. A spokesman says that “the decision-making power of the responsible authorities and disposal companies on site is preserved”. But the federal states have also agreed on a comparable procedure, which more and more municipalities are now following.
It is controversial whether people can even become infected with the coronavirus by touching polluted surfaces. “There is currently no reliable evidence for the transmission of the virus through contact with contaminated objects or via contaminated surfaces, which would have subsequently resulted in infections in humans,” explained the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
Neither has it been proven that people have become infected by consuming contaminated food. However, the BfR also explains that smear infections cannot be ruled out entirely. At least they appear possible if the virus is transmitted shortly afterwards via the hands to the mucous membranes of the nose or eyes, according to a report by the BfR.
If all quarantine cases adhere to the one-sack principle, the residual waste bins will increasingly overflow. There are now more than 720,000 people in quarantine in this country, as the survey by the think tank Risklayer shows. Significantly more should be added in the coming weeks.
At the edge of the upper capacity
For example, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and the Prime Ministers of the federal states called on people to voluntarily go into quarantine if they had symptoms of cold. The crisis is already likely to have led to a higher volume of waste. “Due to the closed shops and restaurants, it can be foreseen that, above all, more service packaging for food and beverages has been used,” predicts the Federal Environment Agency.
Remondis, one of the largest waste disposal companies in Germany, is also feeling this. A spokesman said the garbage volume was around five percent higher than usual. Although this is manageable, it is still at the edge of the upper capacity.
Remondis supports the request of the municipalities not to separate the garbage in quarantine households anymore. Because some of the waste is still sorted by hand, employees could come into contact with contaminated waste. As a systemically important industry, waste management cannot afford staff losses.
The Remondis spokesman explains that the one-sack principle that is now in force for numerous households has no impact on operations. Also because the new rule is not yet reflected in the waste composition.
And the BMU does not expect any serious changes either, as a spokesman explains when asked. “Since so far only a small fraction of households are in temporary and officially ordered quarantine, no significant impact on the waste flows is to be expected.”