Waste management in Switzerland
The waste management in Switzerland is based on the polluter pays principle. Bin bags are taxed with pay-per-bag fees in three quarters of the communes and the recycling rate doubled in twenty years. The recycling rate for municipal solid waste exceeds 50 percent (with an objective of 60 percent in 2020).
However, although the recycling rate of 54 percent is above the European average of 28 percent (2015), Switzerland is among the largest waste producers in Europe (730 kilogrammes of waste per capita in 2014). In 2009, 2’801’285 tons of waste from households and small businesses was recycled and 2'680’359 tons of municipal waste was incinerated.
In Switzerland, the following common household waste materials are recycled: aluminium and tin cans, old batteries, light bulbs, glass, paper, PET bottles, textiles, electrical and electronic equipment, and other. The disposal of recyclable waste is mostly free of charge, though not always operated as door-to-door collection. Some waste must be brought to collection spots (e.g. glass, metal, textiles), some is collected in supermarkets or retail shops (e.g. batteries, pet bottles, old electrical and electronic equipment).
The seven Swiss recycling organisations: FERRO-Recycling (tin cans), IGORA (household aluminium), INOBAT (household batteries), PET-Recycling Switzerland (PET beverage bottles), the SENS Foundation (electrical and electronic equipment), TEXAID (textiles) and VetroSwiss (glass) are united in the umbrella organisation Swiss Recycling.
"This association exploits the communication synergies that exist between the individual recycling organisations by providing a common platform for disseminating information on the separate collection and appropriate recycling of materials. The association's independence and expertise make it a key contact for official bodies, politicians, retailers and schools throughout Switzerland on all issues relating to recycling."
Individual recycling rates
The recycling rates of the individual recyclable materials reached in 2006 a mean of 76% of all currently recyclable items being recycled. This has narrowly surpassed the Swiss government's 75% target, meaning that for the time being there will be no introduction of a recycling tax on glass bottles and jars, nor on clothes and textiles, plastic bottles, home-use batteries, light bulbs or paperware and card.
Since the introduction of landfilling ban in Switzerland on 1. January 2000 all non recycled combustible waste must be incinerated. Switzerland disposes of 28 municipal solid waste incinerating facilities (April 2011).
Municipal solid waste
Household trash disposal
- (French) Aïna Skjellaug, "L’autre or de la Suisse, ses déchets", Le temps, Tuesday 6 September 2016 (page visited on 6 September 2016).
- Swiss Federal Office for the Environment Waste treatment processes: Recycling, Federal Office for the Environment.
- Waste statistics for 2009
- Graph: Municipal Waste and Separately Collected Materials since 1983
- The Swiss Recycling Association
- Recycling rules and figures for 2006
- Municipal solid waste incineration
- Waste Atlas(2012). Country data: Switzerland.
- Stefano Carattini, Andrea Baranzini and Rafael Lalive, "Is taxing waste a waste of time? Evidence from a supreme court decision", London School of Economics, 2016.
- Federal Office of the Environment
- Swiss Recycling
- Waste in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.