Taking care of trash in Vienna

14 Jan

I’m thinking of starting my spring cleaning early this year. Why spend the first beautiful days of spring shoveling out your apartment when you can be out in the Vienna Woods?

With this in mind, I have spent some time online this morning straightening out in my mind what kind of trash goes where and have found that the City of Vienna has a clear and well-organized system of recycling and trash disposal. (No surprise there. From my early days onward I have been impressed with the Viennese awareness of what is environmentally friendly.)

Before we go any further I would just like to clarify for those who don’t speak German that Mist is what informally is called a false friend. It sounds like the English word that means fog but in German means rubbish or trash and also manure or other animal droppings. You’ll see why this is important in a moment.

What I have found out so far is that, on top of the recycling program in Vienna, there is a difference between Restmüll, Problemstoffe, and Sperrmüll and that these go to different places.

Restmüll is your basic household trash after you have separated out paper, glass, and plastic for recycling. This is the stuff you put in your house’s trash container.

Problemstoffe include things like old ink cartridges from your computer printer, old medication, leftover oil and other fats from cooking, and batteries. For this there are fixed spots where you can drop off your problem trash as well as trucks that travel around Vienna on a schedule collecting these items (see http://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/ma48/entsorgung/problemstoffsammlung/ for venues and times).

Sperrmüll includes items that are too big or problematic in terms of their materials to go into your household trash or the Problemstoffsammlung. This can include old mattresses, broken furniture, certain kinds of treated wood and so on. I’m assuming that this is where I should be taking my big old suitcase that didn’t survive its most recent trip. These items should be brought to a Mistplatz (for information about Mistplätze see http://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/ma48/entsorgung/mistplatz/index.html).

What I’m planning to try out this year is the 48er-Basar (48 because that is the number of the magistrate’s office responsible for waste disposal), a kind of flea market or bazaar organized by the City of Vienna. You can drop off old but still usable items at any Mistplatz and they will be sold for a minimal amount at the ongoing flea market (current opening hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) in the 22nd district.

The great temptation will probably be to buy some things there myself but that, of course, might defeat the purpose of spring cleaning!

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