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February 04, 2022

One of the first questions that come to mind when you even visit this beautiful country is: How to recycle in Switzerland? 

Are you a foreigner that is planning to live here, or you’re just visiting for a couple of days? At first glance, it seems very confusing, so this is why we’ve decided to break it down for you.

First of all, we all know that the best practice is to overall produce less garbage.

Therefore, our first advice is to use reusable materials and avoid plastic as much as possible. You can check out our post about the 4 things you can do to start reducing waste , and make sure you give us your own tips in the comments below.

Now, let’s start with a few fun facts about Switzerland’s waste management, so we can get a better idea of why they have become so good at recycling.

No more garbage disposal lands

reduce, reuse, recycle

On 1 January 2000, the Swiss government introduced a ban on landfilling. This means that of all the waste that is produced in the country, whatever is not recycled, is burned to generate energy.

As of today, Switzerland is still one of the biggest waste producers in the world. Fortunately, around 60% of the waste produced is recycled.

Polluter pays principle

In the 90s , Swiss cantons started charging by the bag in what is known as the “polluter pays principle”. This means that the more waste you produce, the more you will pay for it. To comply with this rule, you can buy a special bin bag. Depending on the canton you live in, the bag has a different colour. The price of the bag depends on the size you purchase. Typically they come in two sizes - 17-litre and 35-litre. For example, a pack of ten 35-litre bags will cost you around 20 CHF, and the price may vary in each canton.

How to purchase bin bags?

The bags can be purchased at any grocery store. However, in most places, you would need to ask for them, since in the past they were often stolen because of their high price.

There are specific times when you can throw away your recyclable items.

Swiss people have high respect for their peace and quiet. This is why you can’t throw away your trash whenever you like. Especially glass, since it creates a lot of noise. Generally, most of the places would not allow recycling before 7am and after 19pm. Sundays and any national holidays are also considered “quiet days” , where people enjoy taking a walk in the park and spending a chore-free quality time with their family.

How do Swiss people recycle?

As expected, the implementation of the polluter pays principle has encouraged more and more people to recycle, so that they can save money on bin bags. In fact, since the introduction of the paying by the bag method, the recycling rate of Switzerland has doubled. At around 52% in 2018, this was almost double as much as the rest of the EU.

What goes where?

There’s a place for everything when it comes to recycling.Apart from the usual types, such as plastic, glass and paper, there are several more categories to look out for, if you wish to do it “the Swiss way”.Many people even use websites dedicated to giving away unused furniture and household items. This comes in very handy if you’re a newcomer and don’t have enough savings to furnish your apartment with new and expensive things at the beginning.It is also a very common thing to see some items in front of people’s houses with a sign that says “gratis" . Many Swiss residents prefer to give away their unused items this way, because it saves time and energy. Like they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure...literally :)In order to easily find all recycling collecting points and facilities, we can visit Switzerland’s recycling map here.For your convenience, we have broken down themost common categories of recyclable waste, and some tips and tricks on how to recognise them, starting with the most common one.


PET bottles recycling


Collection points for PET bottles are some of the most widespread across Switzerland. They can be seen in front of grocery stores, gas stations, hospitals, etc.


recycling Switzerland plastic, filters, CDs

Other plastic, such as ones from shampoos, any cleaning agents, cosmetic products, etc. can be returned inside most grocery stores. On the picture above, you can see a commonly used recycling wall, where you can return not only plastic, but also CDs, water filters, light bulbs, batteries, coffee capsules, and so on.

Paper and Cardboard

recycling papier in der schweiz

There are two ways to recycle paper and cardboard in Switzerland. You can either bring them to a facility that collects recyclable items, or you can store them accordingly and leave them outside of your house, so that they can be collected on a specific day of the month.For the second option, all Swiss residents receive a collecting schedule at the beginning of the year.

cardboard recycling

All paper is usually tied into bundles with a string, both while returning it to a recycling facility, or while being collected on a schedule.

If the cardboard you are recycling is damaged by food, for example a pizza box, you would need to remove the greasy parts before doing so.


glass recycling Switzerland

There are three types of glass that go into three different containers, depending on their colour. They are white glass, green glass, and brown glass.All unspecified colours, blue and red glass should go within the green glass container.

How do Swiss people recycle? Now you know..

Overall, recycling in Switzerland may seem complicated at first glance, but the more people do it, the more easier it gets.We, at SMART BITES do our best to live an eco-friendly life. That’s why all of our orders are sent through a “pro-clima” shipment option. This option aims to reduce carbon emissions. You can read more about it here.You can try our delicious vegan energy balls, so you can see for yourself! Order here , and let us know what you think.

Author: Martina Zlatkova

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