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 analysisExternal link identifies two main culprits: tyre abrasion (around 8,000 tonnes) and littering (around 2,700 tonnes).

This content was published on May 14, 2020

The Federal Office of the Environment (FOEN) has published a new web pageExternal link 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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