United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development


? The tradition of developing and using environmental technologies especially for
waste management has existed for a long time in Switzerland. As early as the
1960s the country became a pioneer in this domain by rigorously installing
treatment and incineration plants with stringent emission standards.
National challenges and achievements
? Today it can be said that Switzerland has succeeded in moving from basic waste
removal to an environmentally friendly process of waste disposal and recycling.
Now, incineration plants are efficient power plants which produce clean heat and
? Hazardous waste accounts for about 6% of all waste in Switzerland. The total
volume could be kept about constant since 2000.
? The total amount of municipal solid waste has been increasing constantly in
Switzerland. In order to deal with this challenge, effective recycling policies and
facilities were put in place. Today, 50% of the waste is collected separately and
recycled. This share has more than doubled over the past 20 years.
? Reducing waste and recycling have become main objectives and guiding
principles of the Swiss waste policy. Today, Swiss recycling rates are among the
highest in the world. The remaining wastes are incinerated in clean processes
which generate electricity and heat. Switzerland financially supports the
production of renewable energy connected with waste treatment, which is an
essential area of innovative technologies. Another area of growth is biogenic
wastes used for the production of electricity, heat and fertilizer.
? Another major policy element besides high waste management standards and a
highly effective infrastructure are financial systems and economic instruments that
were applied. In particular, a financing system was introduced that makes the
waste producers responsible for the costs of disposal. This way, some of the
external costs could be integrated. The largest share of the cost of waste
management can be charged to the polluters according to the polluter-paysprinciple.
? In the area of electrical and electronic appliances, for example, consumers are
charged a small disposal charge which is included in the purchase price. In return,
all retailers, manufactures and importers are required to take back at no charge
end-of-life appliances. The collection and disposal of electronic waste and its
financing is thus largely managed by the private-sector itself through associations
which have been established for this.
? By 2011 Switzerland will have registered all polluted sites (areas where wastes
have been deposited or have infiltrated the underground). Polluted sites causing
harmful environmental effects or nuisances are known as ?contaminated sites?.
Until 2015 they have to be investigated and ten year later they will be remediated.
? Through these waste management policies and measures, the level of
environmental pressure caused by waste management was significantly reduced
in Switzerland over the years despite continuous growth in the total volume of
solid waste.
Basel Convention ? activities on the international level
? Switzerland has initiated crucial initiatives within the Basel Convention, such as
the Mobile Phone Partnership Initiative, the Partnership on Action on Computing
Equipment - for the treatment of disused computers and together with Indonesia
the country-led initiative with the goal to propose a way forward to address the
problem of waste ending up in countries that do not have the capacity to manage
them in an environmentally sound management.
? Switzerland is active in the transfer of technologies and the implementation of
environmentally friendly disposal in Asia, Latin America and Africa. A pilot project
in South Africa together with the world market leader Hewlett-Packard for the
treatment of electronic waste is an example of this. In 2008, a treatment plant for
disused computers and printers was built in Cape Town. Similar projects have
also been launched in China and India.
? For an effective and efficient chemicals and waste policy Switzerland has strongly
promoted the strengthening of synergies, cooperation and coordination within the
international chemicals and waste cluster.
Due to the huge flow of goods worldwide, it will not be sufficient to act at the end of
the production supply chain only in order to effectively control the environmental
impacts. To achieve sustainable development, it will be even more necessary to
improve social and environmental criteria all along the life cycle of goods and