What is garbage

The environmental checkers

What is waste

What we no longer need or want is often simply thrown away. This is quite simple. Open the garbage can and it's gone. This creates mountains of rubbish that are annoying, stink or even endanger health. Has always been thrown away. That is why waste has as long a history as humans themselves. What has changed over the millennia, however, is the amount and composition of waste!

Repair instead of throwing away!

Just 100 years ago, furniture, clothing, shoes, clocks, dishes and many other things were made in such a way that they could be used for much longer than they are today. Once they broke, they were repaired. It was customary to mend trousers or to bequeath "valuable" items such as books, cupboards and festive clothes to the children. Less was thrown away and raw materials and energy were saved. A society in which things are dealt with in this way is what we call »Repair company«.

A society where many things are only produced for short-term use is called "Throwaway society" designated. Due to the ever-increasing amounts of waste, one has to ask oneself: Is material prosperity a high quality of life? And what effects does that have on our environment?

The mountains of rubbish are growing

Never before has a society used so much energy and resources as it does today. And the environment has never been so heavily polluted: 1.3 billion tons of waste are generated in the European Union every year. Every European generates an average of one kilogram of garbage per day. That's 365 kg a year. 180 million tons of waste are thrown into the residual waste bins in households. The packaging alone that we throw away in Europe over the course of a year weighs as much as 4,000 Eiffel Towers combined.

Living with Garbage - From Ancient Rome to Modern Times

600 BC The "Cloaca Maxima", the first canal in ancient Rome, was 4 m high and navigable by boat. The evictions were carried out by private companies that were paid for through a special tax. The actual cleaning was carried out by prisoners of war and slaves.
800 In France, rubbish was thrown in the streets in front of the house. Pigs, geese and rabbits were there, and ankle-deep morass covered the pavement. In some streets you could only move about on stilts or high-heeled slippers. The night dishes were also emptied through the window onto the street.
1183 The Reichstag in Berlin broke into a fecal pit. 120 people drowned. Emperor Friedrich I is said to have saved himself with a courageous leap out of the window.
1350 In Munich there was a rule that said that "excrement and rubbish" from the doors had to be removed within three days. Pouring "unclean" out of the house was punished.
1678 The city of Salzburg's »cleansing order« forbade letting »the secret chambers« open directly onto the street. The human waste should be "buried under the ground". Garbage was not allowed to be dumped wildly in alleys and in squares, but everyone had to throw it in the morning or in the evening into the Salzach or another river.
17th century The »Night Kings« - something between garbage disposal and sewer clearers - were responsible for clearing the cesspools in Salzburg. Because of the smell, the activity was only allowed at night, from 9 p.m.
1732 In Berlin, under Friedrich Wilhelm I, "heaps of rubbish had to be shoveled back into the apartments in front of the windows and doors of the house."
1908 "Dung farmers" announced themselves with the bell, whereupon the Salzburg people put their containers on the curbs of the sidewalks and after they were emptied they returned to the house.
1930 Around ½ cubic meters of household waste had to be disposed of per inhabitant; in 2006 it was around 4 cubic meters (including the separately collected waste materials).
1933 The problem with wild deposits emerges from a report by a city administration: »... it has not seldom happened that a paving stone left on the roadside formed the nucleus for a garbage heap, which in the course of a week reached the size of several cubic meters ... «
1936 In New York the contents of the garbage trucks were dumped into the sea. 16,000 truckloads daily.

Waste in Austria

In 2006, around 56.2 million tons of waste were generated in Austria. These are made up of:

  • Waste from households and similar facilities (offices, schools, etc.)
  • Sewage sludge from wastewater treatment
  • Waste materials from trade and industry (plastics, paper, metal, glass)
  • Construction waste (rubble, cement, concrete demolition, etc.)
  • Wood waste from sawmills, carpenters, turneries, agriculture and forestry, from gardening and landscaping, etc.
  • Ashes, slag from thermal waste treatment (waste incineration plants, industrial combustion plants and caloric power plants)
  • Green waste, market waste
  • Excavation materials from construction sites

It's in the residual waste bin!

Every year, 3.7 million tons of waste are produced in Austrian households. And there are more and more. 55% of this waste is collected separately and can be reused as raw materials. Only non-recyclable waste belongs in the residual waste bin. As you can see here, however, a lot ends up in the residual waste bin that doesn't belong there.

A few figures on Viennese rubbish

  • Up to 265 garbage trucks are on the road in Vienna every day to collect residual waste and used materials from the Viennese. In one year, MA 48 operations handle around 120,000 truck trips. That corresponds to a motorcade from Vienna to Hamburg, covering 9 million kilometers.
  • 900,000 tons of waste are transported. This waste weighs more than a pyramid of Cheops filled with water.
  • 22.8 million rubbish bins with a capacity of 240 liters are filled with the waste that is generated in Vienna every year.
  • If all these rubbish bins are placed one behind the other in a row, a "garbage column" of a total of 13,670 kilometers is created. This corresponds to the route from Vienna to New York and back.
  • The annual Viennese "garbage column" is twice as long as the earth's radius and therefore also longer than the earth's diameter (12,760 km). It is also twice as long as the Great Wall of China (6,350 km).
  • We could fill St. Stephen's Cathedral 30 times with the annual household waste in Vienna.
  • If we put all the bins (240 liters each) on top of one another, a “garbage can tower” of 22,800 kilometers is created. That is more than 2,500 times the height of Mount Everest. If we were to stack the containers of 17 years on top of each other, we would be standing on the moon.

Own calculation with MA48 data

Viennese waste management for the past 60 years

1946 Establishment of municipal department 48 with vehicle operation and road maintenance.
1956 Construction of the "BIOMÜLL" waste composting plant on the site of the Löwygrube landfill. 1968 Relocation to Simmering, 1981 closure of the plant
1963 Commissioning of the first waste incineration plant in Flötzersteig.
1965 Vienna Waste Management Act: Prescription of fees, number of containers with at least one emptying per week.
1971 Commissioning of the 2nd waste incineration plant in Spittelau. 1987 fire, 1989 reopening with Hundertwasser redesign, 1990 full operation
1976 Foundation of the disposal company Simmerung GesmbH (EbS) for the disposal of hazardous waste, hazardous waste and problematic substances.
1977 Start of the separate waste glass collection in Vienna.
1978 Approval for the landfill site on Rautenweg in Vienna 22.
1988 Carrying out a model test "organic waste bin"
1990 Introduction of waste advice in Vienna as a service for consumers.
1993 The Packaging Ordinance regulates the handling of packaging, the recycling of packaging waste and the establishment of collection and
Recovery systems. Altstoff Recycling Austria Aktiengesellschaft (ARA) is founded.
1996 Landfill Ordinance: Waste that cannot be recycled must be treated in such a way that it does not represent a burden for future generations.
1998 Numerous waste avoidance measures: e.g. introduction of the »mobile crockery« (dish washing system with glasses, cutlery and plates available for parties and events from 200 people for a rental fee).
2001 First strategic environmental assessment (SUP) for the Viennese waste management is carried out.
2003 Introduction of the »Mistmobil« (smart drivers fix grievances in the city).
2007 New Viennese waste management concept and second strategic environmental assessment for Viennese waste management
2008 Opening of the 3rd garbage incineration plant in Pfaffenau and the biogas plant in Simmering.

Separating garbage pays off!

Waste separation and recycling are extremely important for a sustainable economy. The recycling of waste not only protects the raw material sources, but also helps to save energy and reduce the impact on the climate.

Correct collection is crucial so that the raw materials can be further recycled. So what goes in which bin? And what doesn’t belong in it? And why?

Why?Packaging glass can be recycled any number of times. The color separation of white and stained glass in the waste glass collection makes sense, since high recycling rates are only possible with single-type cullet.
Yes Glass separated into white and stained glass, disposable glass bottles, jam jars, pickle jars, hermit jars
No Flat glass, mirror glass, crystal glass, wired glass, light bulbs, ceramics, porcelain, fireproof glassware
Why?Waste paper is the most important raw material in the Austrian paper industry. Packaging made of paper and cardboard is made to a large extent or entirely from waste paper.
Yes Newspapers, catalogs, magazines, books, brochures, exercise books, cardboard boxes, cardboard, corrugated cardboard
No Milk and beverage packs, plastic sleeves (e.g. catalog packaging)
Why? If thrash metal Is recycled, large amounts of energy are saved compared to the manufacturing process from ores.
Yes Aluminum cans, tinplate cans, crown corks, aluminum closures, metal lids, aluminum foil, aluminum lids, metal tubes
No Wires, nails, engine parts, metal household items, metal waste and scrap iron should be disposed of via the bulky waste collection or at the waste collection center.
Why? From different Types of plastic fibers and granulates are produced. These are the starting materials for the manufacture of various products. Recently, it has even been possible to make PET bottles again from parts of the PET bottles.
Yes Lightweight PET bottles, detergent bottles, plastic packaging, yoghurt cups, foils, sacks for snacks, etc. Attention: There are regional differences in the collection!
No Household items, flower pots, toys, ...
Why? Collected separately Biowaste are composted and serve as compost for environmentally friendly fertilization. Unfortunately, a significant proportion is still disposed of in the residual waste bin.
Yes Kitchen and garden waste, leftover food, tea bags, coffee filters with brew, fruit and vegetable waste, leaves, cut flowers, potted plants, shrubs and lawn clippings
No Plastic bags, vacuum cleaner bags, used cooking oils and fats, ashes, diapers
Why? In the residual waste do not include any recyclable waste. With even better waste separation, 60% of the contents of the residual waste bins in Austria could be sensibly recycled every year.
Yes Diapers, light bulbs, mirror glass, crystal glass, cat litter, greasy paper, toiletries, rubber, vacuum cleaner bags, ashes, broken toys, household items or non-recyclable clothing, flower pots
No Problem materials, building rubble, bulky waste, old electrical appliances, used cooking oils and fats
WhyProblematic substances is hazardous waste that occurs in households. These are treated or incinerated in special facilities and must therefore not be disposed of with the residual waste. Batteries and rechargeable batteries can, for example, also be returned to retailers.
Yes Paints and varnishes, solvents, chemicals, acids, alkalis, pesticides, cleaning agents, medicines, batteries, mercury, mineral oil
WhyBulky waste is too big for the residual waste and must therefore be collected separately and specially treated.
Yes Furniture and furniture parts, mattresses, sofas, floor coverings, bathtubs, ...
Why?Waste electrical equipment contain valuable raw materials that can be recycled. But they also contain problematic pollutants that have to be specially treated and disposed of. All types of electrical appliances can be returned free of charge to waste collection centers or when you buy a new appliance from retailers.
Yes Screens, computers, televisions, mobile phones, game consoles, MP3 players, kitchen appliances, cameras, ...

Away from the huge amounts of waste

Although the garbage stinks to everyone, there is more of it every year. Even if the garbage is collected separately and a lot is recycled - the very best garbage concept is and remains: Avoid garbage.

»Avoid recycling before burning and dumping«.

The less waste is generated and the more waste can be recycled, the less it ultimately has to be incinerated or disposed of in waste incineration plants. What can be described so easily here is much more difficult in reality. With a »sustainable material flow management«, energy and resource savings are already considered in the development and manufacture of products.

It is also about aligning the products with the needs of their future users. This increases their value and extends the "service life". During development, it is important to consider what will be done with the products and consumer goods when their lifespan comes to an end: Materials that can be recycled are of higher quality because they are made into the same product or something else

All that should be left over is waste that can be dumped without endangering our health and the environment. An optimal material flow management is the »circular economy«: Here, materials that are used for the production of consumer goods are used again for the same or for different products. The cycle is thus closed and natural resources are saved.

It would be ecologically ideal if all those things that you no longer need ...

  • passed on to others,
  • these things or parts of them are constructed in such a way that they can be further processed into other things
  • or composted.

It goes without saying that it is best for the environment if these things are made from renewable raw materials and free of toxic or dangerous substances.