Litterbugs could face hefty fines if caught in the act

Throwing your cigarette butt on the street could incur a 300 franc fine if a proposal by the Swiss federal government is adopted this summer.

Litterbugs could face hefty fines if caught in the act
At the moment cantons can set their own rules regarding littering. Photo: Stephan Ridgway

At the moment the cantons are free to set their own rules regarding littering on Swiss streets, but the federal government has become so concerned by the problem – which reportedly costs authorities 200 million francs a year – that it wants to fix a fine at national level, reported daily paper 20 Minutes.

The proposed revision to the Swiss environment law would make it a federal offence to litter the streets with items such as drink cans, plastic bags, food containers, chewing gum and cigarette butts, with a 300 franc spot fine applicable to offenders across the country.

Fines will be imposed by police if they catch the litterbug in action in public places, whether that be in the street, on public transport or in the countryside.

The owners of private property can also denounce a person to the police if they see them littering on their premises, said the paper.

A maximum fine of 20,000 francs will be imposed for anyone dumping large quantities of rubbish on the street outside of usual disposal points.

Though the federal law would supersede any cantonal regulations, it would allow the cantons the right to set exceptions during big public events such as music festivals.

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REMINDER: What are the fines for breaking shutdown rules in Switzerland?

From failing to wear a mask or taking part in an illegal protest, here's how much you'll be fined for breaching coronavirus measures in Switzerland.

REMINDER: What are the fines for breaking shutdown rules in Switzerland?
Mask requirement is one of many in effect in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

PLEASE NOTE: The fines have since been partially relaxed. Please click here for more information. 

The rules went into effect on January 18th in an effort to rein in the spread of coronavirus infections, including those with the mutated strains, which have been on the increase in recent weeks.

These measures include the closure of bars, restaurants, and all non-essential businesses. Also, there is a limit of up to five people for public and private meetings, along with the working from home order whenever possible.

“Anyone contravening the measures to fight the epidemic will be committing an offence; persons who fail to comply with the rules may be fined between 50 and 200 francs, depending on the offence”, the government said. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What are the details of Switzerland’s coronavirus restrictions? 

So what are the penalties for violating the above rules?

  • Organising a private event attended by more than five people: 200 francs
  • Gathering of more than five people in public space: 50 francs
  • Participating in an illegally organised event: 100 francs
  • Not wearing a mask on public transportation or in an airport: 100 francs
  • Not wearing a mask at public demonstration: 100 francs
  • Standing up while consuming in a bar or restaurant: 100 francs
  • Not complying with a quarantine requirement: up to 10,000 francs

Hundreds of fines have already been handed out for breaking Covid-19 rules.

For example, the police in the canton of Zurich imposed around 100 fines in the first week of February alone. Vaud handed 106 fines, while in Geneva, Valais and Thurgau, between 30 and 40 fines were issued in the first days of February.

Most fines have been imposed for exceeding the limit of five people for both public and private gatherings, cantonal police departments report.

READ MORE: Here’s how much you’ll be fined for breaching Switzerland’s coronavirus measures