Garbage explained

It’s a new year so we thought that we would have our first post of the year be about something really useful: how to deal with garbage in Switzerland!

Ah the first stumbling block! You put your garbage bag outside in a normal garbage bag and it’s still standing there, when all the others have been collected, with a terse note telling you that it’s the wrong garbage bag!

Yes, you have to pay to have your garbage picked up and you do this by buying special garbage bags which can be found at the cashier’s desk of any supermarket and some kiosks.

You will get a lot of post coming through your letterbox when you move here, one document is super important: the REAL garbage removal plan. It shows on which days what will be picked up for every street in the town. Be sure to keep it at hand or you can go to their website and enter your street if you prefer to be paper free (or have already mislaid the brochure).

The green garbage goes into the green containers and you can buy special compostable bags to put your green garbage in (don’t put cooked left overs in though). Then once a year you can go and pick up the resulting compost for free to use on your plants. It is forbidden to burn garden cuttings, these have to be tied into bundles and placed out with the green garbage, as do old Christmas trees.

Newspapers and cardboard have to be tied separately into neat bundles and are usually collected on separate days.

A couple of times a year metal will be collected, but if you can’t wait until then there are 11 recycling centres (oekihof) you can go to and drop off all your various garbage including styrofoam, old electronics etc… You may be charged a minimal fee for some things, like old mattresses or building materials. You can also put bulky goods with the garbage so long as you have bought the sperrgut stickers (found in supermarkets) and stuck them to the object you wish to throw out.

And you have surely already spotted the bottle banks around town to drop off your empty glass containers (they get separated into three colours: brown, white and green). Cans and aluminium tins can also be dropped off in in specially marked containers; but be sure to do this during business hours and definitely not on holidays if you don’t want someone shouting at you about disrupting the peace.

PET bottles, plastic milk bottles and water filters need to be dropped off in the supermarkets as well as old batteries.

Old stereos, TVs and computers can be brought to the Oekihof centres or in most stores selling electronic goods.

Recycling here is quite easy once you get the hang of it.

Periodically you will receive special bags for putting old clothes and shoes in; you can also drop your clothes and old shoes off all year round in the containers adjacent to the bottle banks, but please make sure that they are in wearable condition. You can also drop good quality belongings to the Brockenstuben (second hand shops) found in and around town.

Or if you want to make a bit of money you can rent a space at the local flea market (apply through the town’s website from January 2016 only, a place costs CHF 18.-)

This article is an excerpt from our winter magazine which you can download here.

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