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Everything you need to know about recycling centers in French-speaking Switzerland

recycling center in Switzerland 1 - Recyclage Express

Switzerland is among the European models in waste management, ranking ninth out of 180 countries according to the ranking based onenvironmental performance index (EPI). This distinction is largely attributed to its meticulous approach to collection and recycling.

Let’s discover how French-speaking Switzerland, through its recycling centers, shapes our sustainable future.

Why is the subject of waste disposal centers in French-speaking Switzerland crucial?

French-speaking Switzerland, with its flagship cities like Lausanne or Geneva, has risen to the rank of European leaders in waste management. With a keen awareness of the need for a circular economy, the region stands out for its continued efforts to minimize the ecological impact of waste.

Understanding the recycling center system in French-speaking Switzerland

The recycling center is a key infrastructure for waste management in Switzerland. It is not a simple dump, but rather a place where our used objects can potentially begin a second life. Let's say you have an old television or a broken lawn chair: these items have their own dedicated "shelf" or container, whether it's electronics or bulky waste.

Waste management: regulations and laws

Switzerland has established clear principles for waste management. According to Environmental Protection Act (LPE), waste production must be limited as much as possible. This law is reinforced by theWaste Limitation and Disposal Ordinance (OLED), which insists on the separation and recovery of waste, in particular the glass, THE paper and the metals.

The main points to remember are:

  • The EPL aims to reduce waste production. The cantons, and by extension the municipalities, are responsible for implementing measures to achieve this objective.
  • Waste should be recycled wherever possible and processed locally if feasible and beneficial.
  • The cantons play an active role in raising awareness and informing the population and businesses about waste reduction.
  • There Cantonal law on waste management (LGD) takes up and reinforces the principles set out at the federal level.

Recycling centers also have strict obligations:

  • They must operate in such a way as to avoid any negative impact on the environment.
  • They must check the waste on arrival to ensure that it complies with standards.
  • Monitoring of quantities and types of waste is necessary and must be communicated to the competent authorities each year.
  • It is also important to note that burning waste in landfill is strictly prohibited, in accordance with the Federal Air Protection Ordinance (OPair).

Types of recycling centers and their specific roles

In Switzerland, there are several types of recycling centers, each having a specific role in waste management. Here are some common types:

Municipal recycling center

  • Role : Collection of common household waste such as paper, glass, plastic, metals, etc.
  • Restrictions: Often reserved for residents of the town.

Regional recycling center

  • Role: Similar to the municipal recycling center but serves several municipalities or regions.
  • Restrictions: Can be open to companies and individuals from several municipalities.

Professional recycling center

  • Role: Collection of industrial and commercial waste.
  • Restrictions: Access generally reserved for businesses.

Mobile recycling center

  • Role : One-off collection of certain types of waste (e.g. hazardous waste) in different locations.
  • Restrictions : May be limited in terms of types of waste accepted.

Specialized recycling center

  • Role : Collection of specific waste types, such as electronic waste, chemical waste, medical waste, etc.
  • Restrictions : Access may be restricted depending on the type of waste.

Collection points

  • Role: Small collection points for specific waste such as glass, paper, batteries, etc.
  • Restrictions : Generally no restrictions.

Sorting center

  • Role : Sorting and separation of waste for recycling.
  • Restrictions : Generally not accessible to the public for waste disposal.

Valorization center

  • Role : Transformation of waste into energy or other useful forms.
  • Restrictions : Generally not accessible to the public for waste disposal.

Each type of recycling center plays an important role in the efficient management of waste and recycling in Switzerland. Rules and times may vary, so it's always good to check the specific details for each venue.

Thanks to solid infrastructure, around 70 % of waste is recycled in Switzerland. Recycling not only minimizes incinerated waste, but also the use of new raw materials, saving money while preserving our planet.

How to sort your waste efficiently?

Waste sorting in Switzerland is a common and well-regulated practice. Here is some information that will help you understand the different categories of waste, sorting methods, and penalties in the event of non-compliance.

Waste Categories

  • Household waste : Includes food waste, packaging, etc.
  • Recyclable waste : Paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metals.
  • Dangerous waste : Batteries, paints, chemicals.
  • Organic waste : Garden waste, food scraps.
  • Bulky waste : Furniture, household appliances.

Categories of waste accepted and refused in recycling centers

Some waste requires special attention. Batteries, medicines, electronic equipment and even oils are examples of waste that must be treated specifically to avoid any environmental risk.

Here is a table which summarizes the categories of waste generally accepted and refused in recycling centers:

CategoriesTypesGenerally AcceptedGenerally Refused
Household wastePaper
Cardboard
Glass
Plastic
Metals
Textiles
Drink
Medical waste
Dangerous waste
Green wasteBranches
Leaves
Grass
Invasive plants
Electronic wasteComputers
Phones
Appliances
Dangerous wasteBattery
Paintings
Used oils
Explosives
Gas
OthersCar batteries
Tires
Furnitures
Radioactive waste

Note : This table is a generalization and the rules may vary from one recycling center to another. It is always a good idea to check the specific rules of each recycling center.

Practical advice & Waste sorting methods

To sort efficiently, it is recommended to have specific bins or bags at home for different types of waste.

Separation at Source

Use taxed trash bags for non-recyclable waste. These bags are available in supermarkets and are necessary for the collection of household waste.

Selective collection

Place glass, paper and cardboard in the selective collection containers located in your neighborhood. Glass is often separated by color: green, brown and white.

Recycling centers

For special waste such as batteries, light bulbs, and chemicals, use recycling centers or specific collection points. Some supermarkets have collection points for batteries and light bulbs.

Organic waste

Use a composter if you have a garden. Some municipalities also offer organic waste collection services.

Bulky waste

For large items like furniture or appliances, check specific collection days in your municipality or take them to a recycling center.

Return of bottles and cans

Some stores offer a deposit system for plastic bottles and cans. You pay a small extra amount when purchasing, which is refunded when you return the bottle or can.

Common mistakes to avoid when sorting your waste

  • Poor separation of materials : Do not mix different types of plastic, glass or metal. For example, PET bottles must be separated from other plastics.
  • Contamination of recycling bins : Avoid throwing non-recyclable waste into recycling bins. This can contaminate the entire batch.
  • Failure to Clean Recyclable Items : Items like cans and plastic bottles should be rinsed before putting them in the recycling bin.
  • Bad collection day : Don't miss the specific collection day for certain types of waste, such as bulky waste or organic waste.
  • Use of untaxed trash bags : In Switzerland, the use of taxed garbage bags is obligatory for non-recyclable household waste. Using untaxed bags may result in a fine. 
  • Hazardous waste in normal trash cans : Never throw hazardous waste such as batteries, chemicals or medicines into normal trash cans. Use specific collection points for these items.
  • Ignore local instructions : Each canton or commune may have its own sorting rules. Failure to follow them may result in errors in sorting. 
  • Non-use of free collection services : Some municipalities offer free collection services for bulky or special waste. Skipping these services can not only be costly but also less environmentally friendly. 
  • Throwing recyclable waste into nature : It is illegal and harmful to the environment to throw waste into nature. Always use appropriate sorting and recycling facilities.

Recycling centers serving businesses

In a world that is increasingly aware of environmental issues, businesses play a crucial role in waste management and reduction. THE recycling centers in French-speaking Switzerland are not only intended for individuals; they also offer services adapted to the specific needs of businesses.

Responsible waste management is not only a legal obligation for businesses, but it also represents an opportunity. By adopting recycling and waste reduction practices, businesses can improve their brand image, reduce costs and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Services offered by recycling centers to businesses

  • Separate collection : Many recycling centers offer separate collection services for businesses, allowing better recovery of materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic or metals.
  • Consulting and training : Some recycling centers offer training sessions to help companies set up efficient sorting systems within their premises.
  • Tailor-made solutions : Recognizing that each business has unique needs, many recycling centers offer personalized solutions, ranging from the provision of specific containers to adapted collection times.
  • Certifications and reports : For companies concerned with their corporate social responsibility (CSR), some recycling centers issue recycling certificates or detailed reports on the quantity and type of waste processed.

Benefits for businesses

  • Cost reduction : By recycling and recovering their waste, companies can reduce the costs associated with waste disposal.
  • Positive brand image : Responsible waste management reinforces the eco-responsible image of a company, which can be a major asset in retaining customers and attracting new markets.
  • Regulatory conformity : By using the services of recycling centers, companies ensure that they comply with local and national regulations regarding waste management.

Pricing and professional contracts

Pricing for businesses varies depending on the nature and volume of waste. HAS Lausanne, for example, companies must use the bags subject to advance tax of the regional concept to dispose of their waste similar to household waste, whatever their field of activity.

However, for companies producing large volumes of waste, taxation by weight is possible. To do this, they must acquire specific containers equipped with an electronic chip allowing their identification and weighing. These services are carried out against payment, and specific details and prices can be found in the general waste management guidelines and prices for businesses.

For companies wishing to increase their recycling rate, specific solutions are also offered. For example, for organic waste, such as leftover cooked meals and meat waste, collection and processing are free, but charges may apply for the provision and cleaning of containers. For information purposes, the disposal rate for this waste is around CHF 214.– excluding tax per tonne.

It is also important to note that mobile recycling centers are not accessible to businesses. The latter must turn to specific recycling centers, such as recycling center for Malley companies in Lausanne, which accepts recyclable waste free of charge, while there is a charge for depositing other waste.

If you don't like going to the recycling center, it's the one that comes to you!

FAQ – Your questions – Our answers

Can I take hazardous waste to the recycling center?

Yes, most recycling centers accept certain types of hazardous waste, such as batteries, paints, and chemicals. However, it is essential to place them in the correct containers and follow the instructions provided. It is recommended to check with your local recycling center for the precise list of hazardous waste accepted.

How to obtain an access permit?

Access to recycling centers may require a permit or access card, particularly for businesses. These permits are generally issued by the municipality or canton. You can request it from your town hall or the waste management service in your region. Some permits may be free to residents, while others may require a fee.

Are the recycling centers open on Sunday?

Most recycling centers in French-speaking Switzerland are closed on Sundays. However, opening hours vary from one recycling center to another. It is always recommended to check your local recycling center's website or contact them directly to find out their opening hours.

What are the opening hours of recycling centers in French-speaking Switzerland?

Hours vary depending on the recycling centers and days of the week. Typically, they are open Monday through Saturday, with extended hours during the week (e.g., 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and reduced hours on Saturdays (e.g., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). It is essential to check the specific hours of your local recycling center.

How to sort waste in a recycling center in French-speaking Switzerland?

Waste sorting is essential for effective management. Each recycling center has specific containers for different types of waste (paper, glass, plastic, metals, etc.). It is crucial to follow the instructions provided and place your waste in the correct containers. If you have any doubts, do not hesitate to ask the recycling center staff for help.

What types of waste are accepted in French-speaking Switzerland’s recycling centers?

Recycling centers accept a variety of waste, from common household waste to special waste. This includes paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, metals, green waste, electronic waste, and some hazardous waste. However, some waste, such as medical or radioactive waste, is generally not accepted. It is recommended to consult the list of accepted and refused waste at your local recycling center.

Is it free to use a recycling center in French-speaking Switzerland?

For individuals, the use of recycling centers is generally free for most types of waste. However, some recycling centers may charge fees for specific or bulky waste. For businesses, fees may apply depending on the volume and type of waste. It’s always a good idea to check the pricing structure of your local recycling center.

What are the regulations regarding the use of recycling centers in French-speaking Switzerland?

Recycling centers in French-speaking Switzerland operate according to strict regulations to guarantee efficient and ecological waste management. These regulations cover aspects such as waste separation, recovery, and elimination. The Environmental Protection Act (LPE) and the Waste Limitation and Disposal Ordinance (OLED) are key texts governing waste management. Each canton may also have its own rules and regulations.

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