Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

Switzerland is in the recycling business and the business is booming. The waste management in Switzerland is one of the finest and most efficient in the world with a recycling rate of 54% and an objective of reaching 60% in 2020.

The Swiss recycling rate doubled in the last twenty years. So how are they doing it? Their policy is based on the polluter pay principle. The citizens have to pay for throwing away garbage on their own. Moreover, the bin bags are taxed.

There is a long list of materials which can be recycled. Common household materials like aluminium and tin cans, batteries, light bulbs, paper, plastic bottles, clothes, electronic gadgets etc are recyclable. People have to bring some of these trash items to certain collection spots. Many supermarkets avail the service.



‘Swiss Recycling’ is an umbrella organisation which unites seven other organisations- FERRO-Recycling (tin cans), IGORA (aluminium), INOBAT (batteries), PET-Recycling Switzerland (PET beverage bottles), the SENS Foundation (electrical equipment), TEXAID (textiles) and VetroSwiss (glass). These organisations bring together various segments of recycling and act as a key contact for organisations as well as people in Switzerland.

Switzerland has already banned landfilling in 2000. All of the country’s waste is either recycled or incinerated. More than half of the trash is recycled. In 2006, 76% of all individual recyclable items were recycled, which is slightly higher than the target of 75% set by the Swiss government.

Although the paying for the randomly throwing away trash is an offense and a fine must be imposed but that is mostly in papers as it is not always possible to catch the culprit. The bins come with an attached payment sticker but that can be removed. But still the polluter can be caught and the Swiss have a funny way of doing that.

What they do is that they go through the unclaimed trash and look for any receipt or some document to seek out details of the individual and send the culprit the notice to pay the fine. Turned out, it wasn’t a smart move because people also got smarter. They were smart not to throw any document or receipt in the trash. Moreover, if someone put someone else’s receipt in his trash bag, imagine what chaos it would make.

So, the trash police had to calm down their horses. The Swiss citizens are dedicated to recycling items. It has come into their lifestyle now as they have been doing it for years now.