Swiss among most wasteful in Europe

The Swiss create mountains of rubbish annually and are second only to the Danes in the amount they throw away.

Swiss among most wasteful in Europe

New statistics issued by the European statistics authority, Eurostat, show the Swiss threw away 730 kg per person in 2014 – 28 kg per head more than the year before.

Only the Danes (760 kg) binned more.

Romania, Poland and Latvia were the most waste-conscious, throwing out less than 300 kg per person.

The data covers the EU and the EFTA countries Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, and includes household as well as industrial waste.

In the EU as a whole the amount of rubbish created has been falling for several consecutive years and averaged 475 kg in 2014.

In 17 of the 31 countries studied, the amount of municipal waste generated per head increased between 1995 and 2014.

Eurostat said the variations between the countries reflect differences in consumption patterns and economic wealth, but also depend on how municipal waste is collected and managed.

According to the Federal Office of the Environment the growing population and increasing wealth of Switzerland has led to a doubling of municipal waste in the past 30 years, the Swiss news agency sda reported.

In 2006 it passed the six million ton mark for the first time. But 54 percent of this could be recycled, the federal office said.

Although Switzerland has a good reputation for recycling it lags behind European-leader Germany.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.