How Do you Manage Your Trash? Swiss experience

by | Oct 6, 2020 | Cantons

Domestic wastes and trash utilization are among the hottest topics on the world’s agenda. How to arrange the consumption process in a smart way and let the next generation enjoy pure air and soil?

In Switzerland, waste management is based on the polluter pays principles, which means that a person responsible for pollution production pays for damage caused to the environment. Bin bags are taxed with pay-per-bag fees in three-quarters of all communes. Geneva is the only canton that does not pay a garbage tax but even though the canton recycles almost 50% of all the wastes.

In Geneva each year a person produces over 340 kg of waste, 79 kg of which relate to food-cooking trash. To implement a smart way to arrange the wastes Geneva government introduced “P’tite poubelle verte” (a small green bucket) with the recycling bag. In fact, the size of the green bucket is smaller than the normal 20 kg or 35kg trash bin so it already motivates a person to produce less trash.


However, as these special bags are not used by everybody, let’s have a look at the stats published by Geneva’s government about the trash bag composition. More than half of the bags are non-recyclable.


City of Geneva banned single-use plastic bags, straws, drink stirrers, plates, cutlery, cups (including plastic covers) and balloon sticks offered by shops, food trucks and events in public settings. Could be fined with CHF 100.

In Switzerland, the following common household waste materials are recycled: aluminium and tin cans, old batteries, light bulbs, glass, paper, PET bottles, textiles, electrical and electronic equipment, and other. Fines for trash are high from CHF 200 to 10.000 and sometimes wrong trash-management may even place a person in a prison.

Photo: Evgeny Kozlov

“A resident of the Swiss town of St-Légier-La Chiesaz, was shocked to receive a letter threatening her with a prison sentence for not putting her paper rubbish in the right place”.

“Last year a woman in Lausanne area was fined 190 francs after she allegedly put out her garbage on a Wednesday. Under local by-laws, rubbish can only be placed on the street for collection on Mondays. Her bag had been opened and a bill had been found in her name, allowing garbage detectives to identify her”.

More interesting that some Swiss either having fear in front of the local authorities or just avoiding potential fine cross the borders with EU countries to put away their trash.

According to “around 140 Swiss were caught transporting or illegally dumping waste on the French side of the border”. It happened in 2017 but something tells me that this solution still exists for some people.

Sorting household waste a guide for newcomers to Geneva from the Government of Geneva.