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Waste Disposal

Switzerland - Waste Disposal


Recycling is actively encouraged in Switzerland and should be the first port of call for any waste disposal. In Zurich any waste not otherwise able to be recycled must be placed in a specific type of rubbish/garbage bag, otherwise your rubbish may be left and you will receive a written warning and can be fined. These official bags are known as Zuri-Sack and can be bought in the supermarket (you will normally have to ask for them). The purchase price is used to fund the waste collection service. In some other cantons it may be permitted to instead buy waste collection stickers that can be used in conjunction with other bags.

Not all cantons work under this system, and you may find instead that the cantonal or municipal tax includes a waste collection element and that any bag may be used without need for a sticker. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself on the system in use in your city or commune on arrival. You will also need to find out where your nearest waste collection point is as you will often be expected to place your rubbish in large communal bins (or sometimes a chute to an underground bin) rather than leave them on the street. Some places operate a system where you are charged by the weight of your refuse, and you will have a charge card that is debited when you weigh your rubbish. If you have a weekly rubbish collection you will receive a leaflet each year detailing the dates.

Glass, recyclable plastics (PET), and paper/cardboard are all widely recycled. These may be collected or you may have to take them to a recycling point, depending on where you live. Take note of any local collection requirements, such as flattening cardboard and bundling newspapers. Drinks cans and food tins should also be washed and recycled. Biodegradable refuse is often dealt with separately and may be collected (again, a sticker may be required). Note that electrical goods, batteries, medicines, and any toxic substances must be disposed of properly -- check locally for guidance on disposal points. Some items, including batteries, have a levy on the purchase price to cover disposal costs and can be returned to the original retailer.

Glass is normally recycled in bins, sorted by colour, and is either made into new glass or used in construction. You can be fined for not separating coloured glass properly. Also note that is not considered socially acceptable to recycle glass on a Sunday and doing so could earn you a reprimand from other residents.

Switzerland has an advanced infrastructure for dealing with wastewater and this directly serves around 97% of the population, with the potential to expand this to another 1%. For the remaining 2% living in remote and isolated rural properties alternative treatment must be used. This is not an issue that is likely to affect expats.


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