Polluter-pay garbage plan hits snags in Vaud

A scheme introduced on January 1st to charge residents for the garbage they produce in Lausanne and almost 200 other municipalities in the canton of Vaud is off to a rocky start, according to media reports.

Polluter-pay garbage plan hits snags in Vaud
These bags are now "non grata" in 200 Vaud municipalities. Photo: The Local

The polluter-pay principle, affecting 500,000 residents, was adopted by the municipalities in a bid to encourage recycling and reduce waste.

It involves charging an average of two francs for authorized 35-litre plastic garbage bags.

The bags are white to distinguish them from the traditional black ones.

But the city of Lausanne reported that only around half of the bags put out for collection this week were the ones authorized.

“The last week we collected all the bags,” Fadi Kadri, head of the city’s sanitation department, told the ATS news service.

“From now on we will no longer take the black bags or loose garbage,” Fadri said.

Vaud municipalities have launched public awareness campaigns to notify residents of the change in policy.

But in addition to non-compliance, officials may also have to deal with counterfeit garbage bags.

Such bags have surfaced in communities to the west of Lausanne, such as Gland, Coppet and Allaman, 20 Minutes newspaper reported online on Wednesday.

The newspaper interviewed residents who have bought bags from people selling them in parking lots outside shops.

“Two hundred 60-litre bags for 220 francs . . . it’s surely not right but I bought them anyway,” a woman identified as Marisa told 20 Minutes.

Cantonal police have not yet tracked down any vendors of such bags although they have asked anyone who becomes aware of such people to contact the force.

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Plainclothes rubbish police blitz small Swiss town

Police in the town of Grenchen in canton Solothurn have hailed the results of the first-ever operation dedicated to catching people in the act of littering.

Plainclothes rubbish police blitz small Swiss town
File photo: Depositphotos

Four police officers handed out a total of 25 fines of 40 Swiss francs (€35.40) during the two-day blitz in early May, local police chief Christian Ambühl told the Grenchner Tagblatt newspaper.

“Almost everyone picked up their rubbish and paid the fine without objecting. In most cases, it was just thoughtlessness,” he said.

Read also: Swiss canton introduces 300-franc fine for littering

After the success of the recent operation, police are now looking at more deploying rubbish patrols in future – partly to raise public awareness of the problem but also to help clean up the town's image.

Grenchen already has measures in place to clean up its streets.

As in many Swiss towns, rubbish must be disposed of in official rubbish bags or by attaching municipal tax stickers to other non-standard bags to show the relevant charge has been paid.

Some people try and get around the associated costs by dumping their garbage bags illegally.

But in the case of notorious serial offenders, authorities go through rubbish bags left on the street looking for a name or an address. Around ten to 15 times a year, they are able to identify a rubbish offender. In these cases, the fine is 100 francs.

Read also: 20 telltale signs you have gone native in Switzerland

In what can be a game of cat and mouse, however, some people cut out addresses on envelopes before putting them in their rubbish bags.

One such offender in Grenchen was only caught after a special surveillance camera was set up by police.

An industrial centre with relatively high unemployment, Grenchen was last year the subject of a controversial documentary aired by Swiss public broadcaster SRF. 

The documentary called The Silent Majority saw the town depicted as centre of voter apathy and “the shadow side of globalization”.

Many locals felt the film was unfair and that the interviews it contained were unrepresentative.