Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Why don’t the Swiss recycle more plastic?

Most plastics carry a recycling label, but few are convenient to recycle in Switzerland. For 30 days, journalist Susan Misicka saved all of her plastic garbage. She filled four shopping bags, but found that not even half of the waste could be recycled. Is it as bad as it sounds? (

Currently, the Swiss collect 80,000 tonnes of plastic for recycling – mainly PET drink bottlesExternal link, plus milk, shampoo, detergent and other high-quality bottles. In theory, Switzerland could recycle an additional 112,000 tonnes of plastic per year. Put another way, everyone in Switzerland could collect and recycle another 14kg of plastic per year. But there is no federal system and few processing plants for recycling plastic in Switzerland. 

Still, consumers are eager to contribute to a circular economy, a point illustrated by the 83% recycling rate of PET beverage bottles. The nationwide campaign to collect these started in 1990; today there are more than 50,000 PET drop-off points across Switzerland. 

Five years ago, prompted by consumers eager to recycle more than just PET and milk bottles, Swiss supermarkets began collecting all types of plastic bottles.

Recycling of plastic


Plastic in organic bins exceeds legal limits

This content was published on Rules in place since 2017 stipulate that plastic must not exceed 0.1% of the dry weight of compost thrown away by members of the public for recycling.

Read more: Plastic in organic bins exceeds legal limits

Popular Stories

Most Discussed

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR