Switzerland enshrines circular economy in law


Bern – The way is clear for a more circular economy in Switzerland: The National Council and Council of States have approved the revised Environmental Protection Act. In it, the Confederation and the cantons commit themselves to conserving natural resources in products and buildings and to closing material cycles.

In the final votes in parliament on March 15, both councils approved the amendments to theEnvironmental Protection Act. This paves the way for a more circular economy in Switzerland, as demanded by Parliamentary Initiative 20.433 entitled “Strengthening the Swiss circular economy“.

The new law now explicitly states that the Confederation and, within the scope of their responsibilities, the cantons “shall ensure” the conservation of natural resources. “They are particularly committed to reducing the environmental impact throughout the life cycle of products and buildings, closing material cycles and improving resource efficiency.” The environmental impact caused abroad is also taken into account. There are also fines for littering and leaving waste lying around.

The chapter on recycling states that waste is to be reused or recycled “if this is technically possible and economically viable”. This applies in particular to recyclable metals, demolition material, phosphorus from sewage sludge, nitrogen from wastewater treatment plants and waste that is suitable for composting or fermentation.

The state monopoly on municipal waste was retained. However, the Federal Council can designate waste that must be collected separately, such as plastic packaging and drinks cartons. The obligation to unpack unsold food was waived. In addition, the Federal Council may oblige manufacturers, importers and foreign online mail order companies to pay an advance recycling contribution to a private sector organization recognized by the Confederation. ce/mm