Munich as a Zero Waste City

Zero waste in Munich = refuse, recycle, reuse, repair WITH the assurance of waste disposal security through the strong recovery of residual materials through waste incineration.


Munich wants to become a Zero Waste city. Every year around 720,000 tonnes of residential waste are generated in the state capital, of which approximately 43% are residual waste. Managing this waste produces around 212,700 tonnes of CO2 every year.

This is why the city has set itself the objective of reducing its household waste by 15% by 2035 and residual waste by 35%. In order to achieve this, waste must be better separated, e.g. disposal of organic waste in the organic waste bin rather than in residual waste. It is even better to avoid waste entirely, such as by repair instead of discarding or packaging-free shopping. This is because the best type of waste is avoiding it in the first place! 
Following a few measures that AWM has taken for Munich
  Expanding the function of Halle 2, Munich’s second-hand store AWM is expanding existing options to avoid waste, reuse, repair, lend and exchange as well as aspects of environmental education. This raises awareness of sustainable lifestyles and puts the basic principles of zero waste and the circular economy into practice: repair instead of discarding and using instead of owning.

Events such as repair cafés or workshops temporarily transform Halle 2 into a sustainable learning workshop and meeting place.

Bringing Halle 2 to the districts
Halle 2 will be brought to other parts of the city in a smaller format in the future. The aim is to be able to offer Halle 2 to as many Munich residents as possible close to their home. It will be integrated into public life, such as by opening Halle 2 pop-up stores.

The mobile Halle 2 pop-up container complements the offer and is used flexibly as a collection and selling point at events and in public places. A further planned measure is integrating Halle 2 collection and selling points at local partners such as cultural and community centres, clubs etc. in various districts of the city.

  Intensifying motivation and education on separating organic waste and consistently implementing organic waste bins
The AWM will offer citizens and property management even greater motivation to separate organic waste. All bin locations are equipped with organic waste bins by AWM. As well, relevant information is displayed on the importance of separating organic waste. In order to achieve this, the AWM is expanding existing campaigns and adding new elements.
Collection quality is also an important objective to ensure the compost quality of Munich’s soils.
 Zero Waste prize
An annual award was launched in 2023 to bring to life the zero waste idea for Munich’s residents. Under the motto NOwasteVEMBER, everybody who actively participated in waste separation and avoidance for four weeks and documented their actions had the chance to win a cash prize. Around 400 citizens took part in this household challenge in 2023, with 129 lasting the duration. The challenge led to a notable reduction in household residual waste from an average of 33 litres to around 20 litres. As well, 75% of participants stated that their behaviour in relation to waste avoidance had changed for the better over these four weeks.
  Yellow Systems pilot project
In February 2024, a trial was launched in Munich for collecting packaging waste at home. The dual systems responsible for collective plastic, metal and composite packaging and the AWM as the municipal waste disposal company are testing the Yellow Bag, Yellow Bin and recycling bin in five areas of the city.

The aim is to find the most suitable collection system for lightweight packaging in Munich. The pilot project is taking place under scientific supervision and will last until the end of 2026, when the Munich city council will decide which collection system will be used in future.
Expanding the Müllmobil

Since 2019, the Müllmobil (waste mobile) has regularly visited Munich’s schools to organise project days on waste avoidance and correct waste separation. The programme for pupils in years 3 to 6 is proving very popular, therefore is now being expanded and will include even more waste avoidance tips.

The aim is both to raise awareness of zero waste and to show practical options that can be implemented and utilised by children.
  Zero Waste street
Based on a successful pilot project in 2023, the Müllfrei-Meile (waste-free mile) now takes place annually in Munich. In several connected street sections, awareness of zero waste is raised amongst residents, passers-by, local businesses and, where appropriate, institutions like schools. The first Müllfrei-Meile provided a wide range of information on topics such as reusable products, the circular economy and waste avoidance. Furthermore, numerous participatory events like clean-ups, upcycling workshops and clothes swap parties were organised. An opening and closing event as well as banners and striking rubbish bin slogans helped to raise awareness.

Future Müllfrei-Meile events will place additional focus on local business and catering establishments, particularly their range of returnable solutions.
Circular construction
Around 55% of all waste in Germany comes from the construction sector. Hence, the Zero Waste centre also wants to reduce waste here. Measures include recording the quantity of Munich’s construction waste materials broken down into material flows. Based on the findings of ongoing projects by the Municipal and Building Department, a research project is being initiated to record mineral waste materials (concrete, bricks etc.). It analyses material flows from renowned urban construction projects and processes them statistically so they can be reused and recycled as valuable secondary raw materials. The temporary storage of demolition materials is to be simplified with the help of a co - ordinated area management supported by a digital twin. There are also plans to set up a library of building materials for Munich and a real-world lab.

Munich uses waste incineration with district heating for the safe recycling of residual waste.