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Factsheet for Switzerland

1. General facts

CountrySwitzerland (CH)
Surface area 41277 Km²
Population (thousands)7701
Population density188.8
Persons per household2.3
GDP per capita PPS141.6
GDP per capita
Household characteristicsPercentage living in rural areas: 33%
Percentage living in urban areas: 67%
Gross value added22.6% Industry, including energy
5.5% Construction
22.2% Trade, transport and communication services
23.3% Business activities and financial services
21.1% Other services
1.2% Agriculture, hunting and fishing

2. Legislation overview

There are three political levels in Switzerland: federal state, cantons (26) and communes (around 2800). The competences are shared between the three levels, based on the principle of subsidiarity. At the federal level, the Waste Management Division in the FOEN (Federal Office for the Environment) is responsible for developing legislation and policies to ensure the recovery and environmentally sound disposal of waste, controlling the import and export of waste, coordinating the planning of waste disposal facilities. The cantons and municipalities are responsible for the implementation of the policy framework.

The basis for waste legislation in Switzerland is the Environment Protection Law, which regulates among others the field “waste” and “contaminated sites”. This law is the legal basis for all federal ordinances and cantonal regulations. It contains the four following fundamental principles

A serie of ordinances on specific waste streams complement the principles and prescriptions in the law.

2.2 National acts

ReferenceMain content
Environment Protection Law
Loi fédérale du 7 octobre 1983 sur la protection de l’environnement (Loi sur la protection de l’environnement, LPE)
Bundesgesetz vom 7. Oktober 1983 über den Umweltschutz (Umweltschutzgesetz, USG)
Legge federale del 7 ottobre 1983 sulla protezione dell’ambiente (Legge sulla protezione dell’ambiente, LPAmb)
Defines principles, responsibilities and task sharing. Main points:
- Prevention, collection, treatment, recovery, final disposal
- Hazardous waste
- Waste disposal facilities
- Waste management plan
- Financing of waste disposal (Polluter pays principle)

2.2.2 National legislation

NameReferenceYear
Technical Ordinance on Waste814.600 Ordonnance du 10 décembre 1990 sur le traitement des déchets (OTD) Technische Verordnung vom 10. Dezember 1990 über Abfälle (TVA) Ordinanza tecnica del 10 dicembre 1990 sui rifiuti (OTR) no i
Ordinance on movements of special wastes814.610 Ordonnance du 22 juin 2005 sur les mouvements de déchets (OMoD) Verordnung vom 22. Juni 2005 über den Verkehr mit Abfällen (VeVA) Ordinanza del 22 giugno 2005 sul traffico di rifiuti (OTRif)

2.2.3 Selected legislation

NameReference
Ordinance on beverage containers, VGV814.621 Ordonnance du 5 juillet 2000 sur les emballages pour boissons (OEB) Verordnung vom 5. Juli 2000 über Getränkeverpackungen (VGV) Ordinanza del 5 luglio 2000 sugli imballaggi per bevande (OIB)
Ordinance on the amount of the early recovery taxe on glass bottles for beverage 814.621.4 Ordonnance du 7 septembre 2001 relative au montant de la taxe d’élimination anticipée sur les bouteilles en verre pour boissons Verordnung vom 7. September 2001 über die Höhe der vorgezogenen Entsorgungsgebühr für Getränkeverpackungen aus Glas Ordinanza del 7 settembre 2001 relativa all’ammontare della tassa di smaltimento anticipata sugli imballaggi per bevande in vetro
Ordinance on the amount of the early recovery taxe on batteries and accumulators814.670.1 Ordonnance du 29 novembre 1999 sur le montant de la taxe d’élimination anticipée pour les piles et les accumulateurs Verordnung vom 29. November 1999 über die Höhe der vorgezogenen Entsorgungsgebühr für Batterien und Akkumulatoren Ordinanza del 29 novembre 1999 sull’ammontare della tassa di smaltimento anticipata per pile e accumulatori
Ordinance on the return, the taking back and the disposal of electrical and electronic appliances814.620 Ordonnance du 14 janvier 1998 sur la restitution, la reprise et l’élimination des appareils électriques et électroniques (OREA) Verordnung vom 14. Januar 1998 über die Rückgabe, die Rücknahme und die Entsorgung elektrischer und elektronischer Geräte (VREG) Ordinanza del 14 gennaio 1998 concernente la restituzione, la ripresa e lo smaltimento degli apparecchi elettrici ed elettronici (ORSAE)
Ordinance on the reduction of risks linked to chemical products - Annex 2.15814.81 Ordonnance du 18 mai 2005 sur la réduction des risques liés à l’utilisation de substances, de préparations et d’objets particulièrement dangereux (Ordonnance sur la réduction des risques liés aux produits chimiques, ORRChim) Verordnung vom 18. Mai 2005 zur Reduktion von Risiken beim Umgang mit bestimmten besonders gefährlichen Stoffen, Zubereitungen und Gegenständen (Chemikalien-Risikoreduktions-Verordnung, ChemRRV) Ordinanza del 18 maggio 2005 concernente la riduzione dei rischi nell’utilizzazione di determinate sostanze, preparati e oggetti particolarmente pericolosi (Ordinanza sulla riduzione dei rischi inerenti ai prodotti chimici, ORRPChim)

2.3 Regional waste acts

Each canton publishes its own waste regulation, on the basis of the federal legislation, especially the Federal Environmental Law. Most of the cantonal regulations give the responsibility of collection and disposal of municipal waste to the municipalities.

3. Waste management plans

no information

3.1 National plan

There is no national waste plan on federal level. The Federal State has defined axes for the national waste management policy in three documents “Guidelines for waste management in Switzerland, 1986”, “Waste management Strategy in Switzerland, 1992” and “Basis for the elaboration of a future federal policy, 2006”. According to these documents, waste management policy in Switzerland have following goals:

3.2 Regional plans

Cantons have to draw up their own management plan, and review it periodically. They have to submit the plan to FOEN, for conformity assessment. The Technical Ordinance on Waste defines the content of waste management plans, with the following themes to be addressed:

4. Waste prevention for Switzerland

4.1. Objectives

Reducing the overall impact on the environment is the primary objective of technical or administrative measures in waste management. First of these measures is avoiding the forming of waste, as the less problematic waste is the one which has never been produced. In that prospect, recycling strategies (which presuppose the existence of wastes) have to be distinguished from waste prevention strategies (which include reusing strategies on the other hand).

4.2. Targets

No target for waste prevention.

4.3. Strategy

The strategy for waste prevention is based on the following principles, which are to be found in the Environmental Protection law

-          Polluter pay principle: the owner of the waste bears the cost of its disposal. This a strong incentive to reduce waste.

-          Precautionary principle: environmental damages are to be limited at an early stage. Following that principle, the Federal Council may:

o        prohibit the putting into circulation of products intended for once-only, short-term use if the benefits of such use do not justify the harm to the environment that they cause.

o        prohibit the use of substances and organisms that considerably hamper disposal or the disposal of which may represent a danger to the environment.

o        require manufacturers to avoid production waste where there is no known environmentally compatible process for its disposal.

 

It has to be added that waste has to be recycled if it causes less damages to the environment than elimination. In Switzerland more than 50% of municipal solid waste is recycled (used paper, glass, biodegradable waste, etc.). The rest of it is incinerated in waste incineration plants according to the state of art. The emissions of these incineration plants are submitted to strong limits (Ordinance on air protection, whose requirements are the same as the EU Waste Incineration Directive, with an additional requrement for NO2). The energy released by waste incineration is used for heating and electricity production: the total electricity production of all 28 Swiss incinerators meets the energy requirements of at least 250,000 households. Moreover, the heat thus generated can replace imports of around 215,000 tonnes of oil derivatives a year for heat generation purposes.

The combination of the polluter pay principle and the duty of incinerating or recycling waste in an environmentally sound way leads to waste prevention, because the high costs for correct incineration and recycle are to be borne by the owner of waste.

4.4. Policy instruments

4.4.1. Regulatory instruments

Overview

no information

Bans

Regulatory instrument
Titleno information
Waste streamno information
Yearno i
Legal documentno information

Other instruments

Regulatory instrument
TitleOrdinance on Beverage Containers
ScopeBeverage Containers (national measure)
Year2000
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesDeposit on reusable beverage containers
Targetsno information
DescriptionThe regulation force retailers, producers to deduct a deposit from beverage containers that can be reused. They have the duty to take back reusable containers from the consumers, and to pay them back the deposit.
Implementation814.621
Ordonnance
sur les emballages pour boissons
Resultno information
Regulatory instrument
TitleOrdinance on Risk Reduction related to Chemical Products (ORRChem)
ScopeProblematic substances in products, for instance PCB, As, Pb, Hg and Cd (especially in batteries), heavy metals in compost, etc.
Year2005
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesRestrictions and bans for diverse substances that manufacturers and retailers must comply with in the production and the placing on the market of chemicals and products.
Targetsno information
DescriptionIt contains specific provisions on chemicals that due to their characteristics or use may represent a particular danger to human beings and the environment. For a total of 31 substances or product groups, it contains restrictions and bans on manufacture, placing on the market, or use, as well as special requirements in relation to labelling and disposal. It sets out the activities for which a special licence is required.
Implementation814.81 Ordonnance du 18 mai 2005 sur la réduction des risques liés à l’utilisation de substances, de préparations et d’objets particulièrement dangereux (Ordonnance sur la réduction des risques liés aux produits chimiques, ORRChim)
Resultno information
Regulatory instrument
TitleFees for domestic waste
ScopeFees according to the polluter-pay principle for domestic waste to be incinerated.
Year1997
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesReducing amount of waste
Targetsno information
DescriptionThe cantons ensure that the cost of disposing of domestic waste, insofar as it is their responsibility, is passed on to those responsible for producing the waste through fees or other charges. In organising the charges, the following factors in particular are taken into account the nature and the quantity of the waste handed over.
ImplementationSR 814.01 Federal Act on the Protection of the Environment, Art. 32a1 Financing for domestic waste
ResultReduction of domestic waste to be burned in incineration plants

Additional info

no information

4.4.2. Market-based instruments

Overview

no information

Additional info

no information

4.4.3. Information-based instruments

Overview

no information

Additional info

no information

4.4.4. Voluntary instruments

Overview

no information

Additional info

no information

4.5 Waste prevention examples

no information

5. Construction and Demolition Waste for Switzerland

5.1. Objectives

Recovering of the mineral fraction of construction waste, amounting to some 10 millions tons each year.

5.2. Targets

No target

5.3. Strategy

According to the Technical Ordinance on Waste, construction waste should be separated and recycled. The separation should lead to 4 fractions: unpolluted excavated material, mineral waste,  combustible waste ( wood, paper, cardboard and plastics, etc.) and  other waste.

5.4. Policy instruments

5.4.1. Regulatory instruments

Additional info

no information

5.4.2. Market-based instruments

Additional info

no information

5.4.3. Information-based instruments

Additional info

no information

5.4.4. Voluntary instruments

Voluntary instrument
TitleGuidelines on the recovery of mineral construction and demolition waste
ScopeRecovery of mineral construction and demolition waste
Year1997
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesHigh-quality and environmentally sound recovery of construction and demolition waste
Targetsno information
DescriptionGuidelines containing ecological requirements for the recovery of mineral construction and demolition waste, and defining specifications of recycled mineral construction materials and their ranges of utilization
Implementationhttp://www.bafu.admin.ch/publikationen/publikation/00030/index.html?lang=fr
Result40% of mineral construction and demolition waste are recovered on the building site. 40% are recovered after treatement.

Additional info

no information

6. Biodegradable Municipal Waste - Switzerland

6.1. Objectives

Guarantee of good quality of compost. Increasing energy production through anaerobic digestion.

6.2. Targets

No expressed target.

6.3. Strategy

The technical Ordinance on Waste is the reference regulation for municipal waste. According to it, recyclable fractions of municipal waste – also including biodegradable fractions like paper, and compostable waste – have to be collected separatly and recovered. The landfilling of combustible waste is prohibited (also including biodegradable fractions).

In Switzerland, 880’000 tons of biodegradable waste are collected separatly. 740’000 tons are recycled in compost of good quality, whereas 140’000 tons is treated in anaerobic digestion plants to produce energy and fertilizer.

6.4. Policy instruments

6.4.1. Regulatory instruments

Regulatory instrument
TitleTechnical Ordinance on Waste
ScopeOrganic waste
Year1990
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesCollection and recycling of organic waste
Targetsno information
DescriptionObligation to recover/recycle; basic principles of recycling; requirements for the operation of plants (location, construction, operation, monitoring)
ImplementationRS 814.600 Ordonnance sur le traitement des déchets, Art. 7, 43, 44, 45
ResultVolumes of separately collected and recycled organic waste have been rising steadily since 1985. The total of 880’000 tons per 2006 is equivalent to 111kg per capita
Regulatory instrument
TitleTechnical Ordinance on Waste
ScopeCombustible waste
Year2000
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesNo landfilling of combustible waste. Landfills shouldn’t release gas or liquid emission which need treatment.
Targetsno information
DescriptionThe Cantons shall ensure that municipal waste, sewage sludge, combustible fractions of construction waste and other combustible waste are incinerated in suitable plants as far as they cannot be recovered. Also permitted is an environmentally sound treatment with other thermic processes.
ImplementationRS 814.600 Ordonnance sur le traitement des déchets, Art. 11
Result99% of combustible waste are incinerated in waste incineration plants that are in accordance to the state of the art
Regulatory instrument
TitleCompost Industry Inspectorate
ScopeComposting and anaerobic digestion plants
Year2004
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesCarrying out inspections of composting and anaerobic digestion plants in an independent and neutral manner. The goal of the ARGE’s new Industry Inspectorate is to monitor compliance with minimum quality requirements at all organic waste processing plants in Switzerland with a capacity of more than 100 tonnes per year.
Targetsno information
DescriptionCantonal environment agencies are legally required to inspect composting and anaerobic digestion plants. As this task may be delegated by the authorities to third parties, there is a need for an expert partner capable of carrying out inspections in an independent and neutral manner. To meet this need, an Inspectorate Working Group (ARGE) for the Composting and Anaerobic Digestion Industry was established in the autumn of 2004 by three bodies operating in this area – the VKS (Association of Swiss Composting Plants; French/German), the IGA Kompostforum Schweiz (Agricultural Plants Interest Group, Swiss Compost Forum; German) and the Biogas Forum The ARGE offers to act as the cantonal authorities’ outsourcing partner for the legally required inspections.
Implementationno information
ResultThe plants inspected in 2008 treat more than ¾ of the total amount of organic waste

Additional info

no information

6.4.2. Market-based instruments

Market-based instrument
TitleFramework agreement for the financing of the collection of used paper
ScopeUsed paper
Year2007
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesPurchase guarantee and minimum price for the used paper collected by municipalites
Targetsno information
DescriptionFor decades, used paper collection and disposal have been financed by municipalities through taxes and fees that are volume-unrelated; a practice that does not comply with the ‘polluter pays principle'. Given that world market prices for recovered paper and cardboard fluctuate strongly, the cost accounting in this area is subject to unexpected and considerable change. These two reasons, combined with the cost pressure on municipalities' accounting, have induced city and municipal councils to find a new financing model in collaboration with the buyers of recovered paper. The result is a framework agreement, which, starting in January 2007, will guarantee every municipality the purchase of its collected paper as well as a minimum return thereon.
Implementationno information
Resultno information

Additional info

no information

6.4.3. Information-based instruments

Additional info

no information

6.4.4. Voluntary instruments

Voluntary instrument
TitleCompost studies
ScopeCompost and digestats
Year2007
Transition periodno information
ObjectivesInvestigation of the pollutants in composts and digestates and investigation of benefits linked to the use of that kind of fertilizers
Targetsno information
DescriptionThe separate collection and composting of organic waste has become an indispensable element of ecological waste management. An essential condition for the reuse of organic waste is a guaranteed market for compost products. However, as shown by the current debate on concentrations of pollutants in recycled fertilizers, reservations still exist with regard to compost and digestates. In addition, the benefits of compost use are inadequately documented and there are still gaps in our knowledge. In the longer term, compost can only be successfully marketed if its use is shown to improve soils, with minimal, safe levels of pollutants. For this reason, two studies have been out by FOEN in cooperation with ofher federal offices, cantons and research institutes. In these studies, the two aspects - pollutants and benefits – have been investigated. The results have been published in the form of a scientific report and have been communicated to the consumers through an information campaign.
Implementationhttp://www.bafu.admin.ch/publikationen/publikation/00080/index.html?lang=fr
ResultThe results of these exhaustive studies show that a great majority of composts and digestats in Switzerland are of high quality.

Additional info

no information

Results

Biodegradable municipal waste

no information

Construction and demolition waste

The overall results of the waste policy of the last 20 years are broadly positive. Swiss waste management can today be described as a well-oiled global system, from which the environmental emissions are only a fraction of what they were in the middle of the 1980s, with a recycling rate of 50% for municipal waste. The building of environmentally sound treatment capacities combined with the implementation of the polluter-pays principle lead quite surely to a less important increase of the amounts of waste.

Waste prevention

no information

7. Bibliography

No information

8. Country links to national waste information