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Lobby group lampoons imported rubbish

The "Red Devil Stone" prize is named after a rock near the entrance of the Gotthard road tunnel

(Keystone)

An incineration plant in the Swiss Alps has taken this year's booby prize for the unnecessary transport of goods, specifically imported waste from Germany.

The Alpine Initiative environmental group, which handed over the prize, said that imports of waste rose by 25 per cent last year and called for a coordinated policy on the issue.

The "Red Devil Stone" prize is part of the Alpine Initiative's campaign to reduce the transport of goods by road in the Alpine region. The award-winning plant is based at Trimmis in the eastern canton of Graubünden.

Representatives of the group said that imports of waste were a cause for concern, rising last year to 80,000 tonnes.

And they warned that the amount of waste imported into Switzerland could rise even further this year to breach the legal limit of 200,000 tonnes.

The main reason for the increase is the insufficient incineration capacity in southern Germany, which has led to some of this waste being treated in Switzerland that has spare capacity, the group said.

"Absurd"

For the Alpine Initiative, the "absurd" situation was well illustrated by the Trimmis plant, which imports around 10,000 tonnes of rubbish each year.

But the group claimed that canton Graubünden as a whole sends 20,000 tonnes of waste to be incinerated in the neighbouring canton of Glarus.

The plant was symbolically awarded the prize on behalf of all the players in the waste disposal process.

The Alpine Initiative also used the occasion to call for waste to be transported by rail. It said that although supposedly cheaper, road transport was noisier and resulted in more pollution.

It called for a comprehensive waste management policy in Switzerland and said the government should be in charge of incineration capacity.

This should result in all waste produced in Switzerland being disposed of at the closest incineration plant, with incineration capacity limited to Switzerland's needs.

Last year French bakery company Délifrance took the award for transporting its products from the Netherlands to Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The Alpine Initiative group was founded in 1989 to protect mountain regions against increasing road traffic through the Swiss Alps.
It started awarding the "Red Devil Stone" prize for "unnecessary" transports in 2002.
Previous winners of the dubious honour are the Swiss retailers Coop and Migros, and Nestlé Waters.
Apart from the Trimmis plant, this year's prize also went to several other waste plants and the Federal Environment Office.

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