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Not enough clarity in recycling sector, Swiss oversight body says

Won’t go to waste: but plastic in Switzerland is not always so well recycled. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

The Federal Audit Office says there needs to be more transparency around the various fees and taxes which fund Switzerland’s recycling system.

The auditors wrote on Wednesday that CHF176 million ($192 million) in recycling taxes and fees were collected in 2019: these included state-organised prepaid disposal fees on glass and batteries, and voluntary, private sector-run contributions on PET packaging, aluminium, tin cans, electrical appliances and light bulbs.

However, consumers do not have enough information about whether their waste is “simply collected, burned, or actually recycled”, the auditors say.

+ How (well) the Swiss recycling system works

They also criticised the lack of data available to the Environment Ministry, which would help policymakers to understand how well the private-run contribution schemes were working.

As such, more information is needed on exactly how the charges levied are used, the auditors said. They also want to know more about the financial situation of waste-management organisations, which gather the resources and redistribute them to the municipalities and companies responsible for collection, transport and recycling.

The same situation applies to the recycling process itself: it’s not clear how much this costs and for how much the recycled produce is then sold on, the oversight body said.

The auditors say a bill to be discussed soon in parliament, concerning the circular economy, could represent an opportunity to fill some of these holes in knowledge.

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SWI – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.
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