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A man pulls a bin full of recycled rubbish
(Keystone)

Switzerland is known for its high recycling rates, and everyone is expected to play their part. A charge for collected waste gives an added incentive to separate waste at home.

Depending on where you live, you may have to buy municipal bin bags or stickers to put on generic bags. Disposing of rubbish or recycling in the wrong way can result in a hefty fine.

Individual communes distribute information about rubbish collection (collection times, procedures, etc.) and recycling to their residents, generally via post and/or internet.

You will need to make regular trips to your nearest recycling bins, which usually take glass, PET bottles, tin cans and household oil. Supermarkets also have small recycling stations where you can offload your empty containers before doing the next shopping.

For paper recycling, many communes require people to bundle papers into packets tied with twine and leave them by the side of the road on specific collection days. In some areas, apartment blocks have general paper bins that are emptied periodically.

Most communes also have a recycling centre, useful if you are recycling in bulk. The bigger the centre, the wider the range of old household objects and used materials they take, including electrical goods, green waste, metal goods, garden furniture and even animal cadavers. To find your nearest recycling centre, try this interactive mapexternal link.

When ordering new electronics or furniture, ask about their service to remove unwanted or broken items when delivering. Many shops accept used batteries and pharmacies are obliged to take unwanted or expired medication.

It is important to find out the recycling services for where you live. Your commune will have the information available online or in brochures. There are set days per month when paper waste, as mentioned, may be collected, while old furniture and big items (such as bicycles) may also be collected from the street.

A common way to dispose of unwanted but serviceable clothes is to drop them into a charity collection bin, usually located at recycling points.

Bins on the street are usually also separated into general waste, paper, PET and glass sections.  

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