The what detective?!

For another uncommon/ emerging job – here’s one we’re sure most people haven’t heard of: the Mülldetektiv (garbage detective!).

Whether in the Wald (forest) or on the side of the Autobahn (highway) – some people dispose of their rubbish wherever they feel like it!

The number of people in Germany who are illegally dumping their waste, particularly Sperrmüll (bulky waste) – such as broken refrigerators, bed frames and chairs – has increased substantially over the past decade or so. Police and local government are receiving more and more complaints from residents, particularly the elderly, about bulky rubbish being dumped in their street during the night – in some streets it’s almost a daily occurrence. These complaints are absolutely warranted, considering that most areas offer a free (or fairly cheap) collection services for bulky waste.


The government responded by hiring extra garbage collectors, who drive around their designated areas in a large truck and collect piles and piles of garbage; often filling up three trucks worth of rubbish in just one day. However, these garbage collectors are often accompanied by special Mülldetektive (garbage detectives) – in Hamburg there are approximately 15 people employed as Mülldetektive.

These special garbage detectives take photographs of the illegally dumped rubbish and search through the trash for clues. Whilst there is often nothing to reveal the dumper’s identity, occasionally there are letters with addresses, or boxes with the recipient’s address still attached among the trash which allow the garbage collectors to identify the perpetrators. Once their identity has been established, these individuals receive fines of approximately 500€ (almost AUD$750!) to cover the costs of the garbage disposal and discourage further illegal dumping.

Although there are a number of legal ways to freely or cheaply dispose of bulky waste, unfortunately, these garbage detectives are kept incredibly busy, with no signs of a major decrease in illegal dumping.


Find out more information in the following videos:

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