Tyres and litterbugs spread plastic across Switzerland

Some tyre abrasion particles can be removed from the environment via street cleaning and runoff water treatment. Keystone/Eddy Risch

Each year some 14,000 tonnes of plastic waste end up in the Swiss environment. A federally commissioned analysis identifies two main culprits: tyre abrasion (around 8,000 tonnes) and littering (around 2,700 tonnes).

This content was published on May 14, 2020 - 12:00
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The Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) has published a new web page with information on the main quantities of plastics and material flows in the environment. Ten factsheets address Swiss plastic pollution as it relates to the following areas: tyre abrasion, littering, rivers and lakes, soil, air, oceans, humans and animals, plastic packaging, plastics in biowaste collections, and biodegradable plastics.

“As a next step, the FOEN, together with the industries affected, will propose measures to reduce this pollution,” the office announced on Thursday.

Every year, Switzerland processes a million tonnes of plastic – some of it single-use, some for the long-term. Nearly as much – 780,000 tonnes – is disposed of.

Plastic recycling in Switzerland is generally limited to PET beverage bottles as well as other plastic containers for detergent, shampoo and the like.

In 2016, Swiss retailers introduced a small fee for plastic shopping bags, which has reduced the demand considerably. In 2019, Geneva banned the sale of single-use plastic on public grounds.

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