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German state cracks down on Switzerland's 'rubbish tourists'

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German state cracks down on Switzerland's 'rubbish tourists'
Photo: Depositphotos
11:47 CEST+02:00
In the latest skirmish in Switzerland's (admittedly low-key) garbage war with its neighbours, waste management authorities in southern Germany have teamed up with the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) to stop Swiss residents dumping rubbish in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Recently it was customs authorities in France's Franche-Comté region who were kicking up a stink about Swiss ‘rubbish tourists' driving over the border to dispose of their garbage for free, thus circumventing Switzerland's complex and often expensive charges for disposing of refuse.

Read also: I faced prison for plastic in wrong recycling bag

And now signs of have started appearing at recycling depots in Baden-Württemberg near the Swiss border reading: “The export of municipal and household waste from Switzerland is forbidden,” Swiss tabloid Blick reported on Wednesday. The same goes for electronic items and green waste.

Under the ban, Swiss residents caught dumping rubbish on the other side of the border will have to lug that garbage back to Switzerland. At the same time, Swiss authorities will be informed, meaning people will have to need to provide proof of where they dumped their rubbish after they repatriated it to Switzerland.

However, the Swiss environment ministry declined to say what possible punishments could be.

Contacted by Blick, local authorities in Germany near the Swiss border seemed puzzled by the ban. “Bringing rubbish to Germany doesn't make sense,” they said, noting that material for recycling could be disposed of for free in Switzerland too.

But there are small differences: in Switzerland disposal of bulky household items, and of hazardous and special waste carries a charge – enough to make the trip across the border to Germany worth it for some.

Not everyone is happy with the changes. “I have been taking my rubbish there [to Germany] for years. It has never been a problem, but suddenly I am not allowed to,” said Volker Schulte, lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW).

For now, it is unclear how controls are going to work and if, for example, car number plates are going to be checked in a bid to catch offending Swiss residents. But for Schulte, the solution is easy. He says he will simply come by bicycle.

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