No butts: Swiss town steps up war on litter

A small town in Switzerland says a soft touch to litter hasn't worked. Now they's getting serious.

No butts: Swiss town steps up war on litter
The problem of littering is said to cost Switzerland 200 million Swiss francs a year. Photo: Dennis Hill

The town of Porrentruy in Canton Jura is to hit people who litter where it hurts – in the pocket.

After a two-year trial of a soft-touch approach to littering which included giving children pouches to put their used chewing gum in, the council is set to impose fines of 100 Swiss francs to adults who don’t put their rubbish in the bins provided.

“Now we’re getting serious,” the council has said in posters put up around the town warning of the new regime.

The move is in line with a similar shift across Switzerland with Geneva having raised the fine for littering from 100 francs to 250 francs in 2016, 20 minutes reports.

Swiss cantons can currently  set their own rules regarding littering on their streets, but the federal government wants to fix a fine at national level to battle a problem which reportedly reportedly costs authorities 200 million francs a year.

Proposed changes to 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.

Switzerland has a global reputation for cleanliness and is a world leader in green technologies and practices, but littering remains a problem.

Tough restrictions on when and how garbage can be disposed of have also given rise to so-called rubbish tourism. To tackle the problem, teams of detectives rifle through illegally dumped garbage to track down offenders.

Various groups across Switzerland organize so-called clean-up days. For a full list, see here.