With about 50% of household waste recycled, the Swiss are rather good students. However, with more than 700 kg of waste per capita and per year, the Swiss are among the largest creators of waste in Europe. So how can we sort and recycle on a daily basis to save money for the environment?
What is recycled in Switzerland?
About fifteen types of waste are collected in Switzerland, but this varies from one recycling center to another. Let's start with recyclables. This is waste that is systematically recycled. However, each municipality has a certain freedom regarding the management of the waste of its citizens. Remember to check with your municipality to find out about the regulations regarding waste management in your area.
- The cardboard box (cereal boxes, cake boxes, pizza boxes and others) as long as they are not too dirty (too dirty or too wet).
- Paper (letters, newspapers, advertisements, magazines, leaflets) is almost always recycled. However, photo paper and wallpaper that are laminated and specifically treated are not recycled.
- Steel and aluminium cans, aluminium trays, cans, aerosols). Aluminium coffee capsules can also be recycled.
- Glass (glass bottle, broken glass)
- Plastic bottles. As a general rule, only plastics used in the manufacture of bottles and other vials are recycled. This means that your water, milk or oil bottle, shampoo bottles or cosmetic vials are recyclable, but plastic cups, plastic dishes or plastic food trays are not.
- Raw vegetable waste and egg shells (compost). There are compostable bags available in the supermarket.
Sometimes some packaging is made of several materials, some of which are recyclable. In order to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in a taxed garbage bag, it is interesting to separate these materials. For example, remove the cartons around yogurts, separate the transparent plastic from the cardboard for gift wrapping, remove the plastic film from the cardboard when you buy smoked salmon, etc. Beware, beverage berlingots are unfortunately not recyclable and must be thrown in the regular garbage can.
What waste should never be put in a garbage can?
here are wastes that cannot be disposed of in a conventional garbage can. For some of its waste, there are specific disposal methods.
- Batteries, batteries and light bulbs which are recycled through specialized channels (at the waste collection centre or via terminals available in some supermarkets)
- The drugs that you have to take back to the pharmacy
- Waste electrical and electronic equipmentFor which there are dedicated channels, but which you can take to the waste collection centre. Any purchase of an electrical or electronic device includes a tax that finances the recovery and disposal of defective objects. As a result, the law requires sellers to collect used equipment
- Edible oils could be disposed of in your regular garbage can, but it is best to take them to the landfill. Do not throw it into the pipes, as this can clog them and complicate wastewater treatment.
- Motor oils and other drain oils must be disposed of in your waste collection centre or garage
- The tires that must be taken to a specialist, to the waste collection centre or to a distributor
- Large scrap metal, wood or material waste that must be taken to the landfill
How do I organize my sorting?
By sorting well, a household can reduce the number of garbage bags taxed by 4 or more. For a household of 4 people using 2 35-litre bags per week, this represents a saving of nearly CHF 12 per month or CHF 144 per year. Almost enough to pay for your phone bill. Sorting is therefore beneficial for the purse, but also for the environment.
The first thing to do is to inform the other members of your household, especially the children, so that they understand exactly what should be thrown in the garbage and what should be sorted. Then, it is a question of finding a space where you can place your bags or bins in which you can put your recyclable waste. It is not necessary to have 15 different bins, usually 2 or 3 are sufficient. For example, one bin for paper and cardboard, another bin for your pet, aluminium and glass bottles, and then a last one for compost. Of course, it depends on the waste you produce the most. There is therefore no absolute rule. However, provide a bag for paper and cardboard.
Recyclage express will soon offer you very practical bins for recycling that can be adapted to any space.
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How do I get my waste to the collection points or waste collection centres?
In Switzerland, everyone has access to a waste disposal centre and there are many ecopoints. Depending on the municipality where you live, different containers are available directly at the bottom of your building. If you are lucky, you have a container for your incinerable waste, another for paper and cardboard and a last one for glass.
Many municipalities generally in the outskirts of large cities provide only one container for the taxed garbage bags at the bottom of your building.
As far as ecopoints are concerned, it is the same principle, some municipalities have several ecopoints where it is possible to throw away pet, aluminium, glass, sometimes batteries and light bulbs (ecopoints of the city of Lausanne). Other municipalities do not offer any ecopoints. There is therefore a certain inequality in access to the waste disposal service.
Depending on the amount of recyclable waste you produce, it will be a matter of going to the eco-point or your waste facility usually once a week. Be sure to check the schedule of your waste disposal centre, as they vary greatly from one municipality to another (see : Lausanne waste disposal schedules.pdf). Other waste that is not directly recyclable can only be disposed of in a landfill.
If you do not have time to go to a collection point or a waste collection centre, Recyclage Express offers you a subscription system. We come 1 to 4 times a month to collect your recyclable waste at your door. (www.recyclage-express.ch/recyclage).
No, a soiled tissue should be thrown in the regular garbage can. Indeed, by being incinerated it will produce energy while if it is thrown into the paper it will require additional treatment making its recycling less inefficient.
No, there is already enough combustible waste in our garbage cans, even too much.
No, do not leave the lids on, as this weakens the glass. In the end people are paid to separate the lids from the containers so it is better to remove the caps from the bottles.
No, do not, as they do not dissolve in water and can clog the pipes. They make water treatment more complicated. The best way is to take them to the landfill or if this is not possible, put them in a plastic bottle and dispose of them with your incinerable waste.
Opaque and transparent bottles are of the same composition, but should not be mixed, as they follow a different recycling process. Generally, in supermarkets, collection points or waste collection points there are separate compartments for transparent and opaque PET bottles.
In a household waste bin, we have about 80% of the waste that is recyclable. There are still berlingots (composite materials), paper tissues, yoghurt pots and packaging papers that are not recyclable.
Batteries still contain many recyclable materials such as zinc and mercury. Mercury is very toxic, in Switzerland we have an obligation to recycle it. In addition, recycling batteries saves our natural resources. With a recovery rate of 70%, there are still more than 900 tonnes per year that end up not recycled, which represents 810 kg of mercury that ends up in the wrong place.
Some are, some are not. Indeed, they are sometimes treated against moisture, which prevents the paper from dissolving. Underneath the bag, there is a small enclosed R logo that indicates that the bag is recyclable. If it doesn't have this acronym, then you have to put your bag in the trash.
We can put them all in recycled paper. If the indication 100% recyclable is written on the packaging of the envelopes, then the plastic window is made of recyclable cellulose. Some envelopes have a plastic window, but it's not that bad if you put them in recycled paper, because you can easily separate the plastic from the paper.
That's it! That's it! Sorting is not a big deal. What happens once at the dump? In a future article, we will focus on this subject.