MIL-OSI Translation: Less full bins, but still high recovery potential according to a FOEN study

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MIL OSI Translation. Government of the Republic of France statements from French to English –

Source: Switzerland – Department of Foreign Affairs in French

Federal Office for the Environment FOEN

Bern, 11/21/2023 – The quantity of waste in garbage bags is decreasing in Switzerland. However, garbage contains more than 20% recoverable materials, and more than half of food waste could be avoided, according to the new 2022 analysis of waste composition carried out by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Switzerland produces around six million tonnes of urban waste each year, i.e. waste produced by households and small businesses. This is equivalent to 671 kg per person. Around half of this urban waste is collected separately and recycled. The other half is burned in household waste incineration plants (UIOM). This is what the new FOEN study on the composition of garbage reveals, among many other results (see box).

Compared to the last analysis (2012), the quantity of garbage from households has decreased by 58 kg per person on average (148 kg in 2022 compared to 206 kg in 2012). Even if this development is positive, we can deplore the still excessive quantity of materials that would be recyclable. In fact, 21% of this waste (31 kg per person) could be recycled. This fraction includes in particular meal leftovers (cooked and processed foods), fruit and vegetable peelings and plastic packaging (milk and shampoo bottles, for example).

“The results are mixed. On the one hand, the amount of garbage has decreased thanks to significant efforts to promote recycling at all levels. It’s encouraging. On the other hand, we have not yet achieved our goals, especially when it comes to food. We must do more to promote the circular economy,” comments Katrin Schneeberger, director of the FOEN, during the presentation of the results of the analysis of the 2022 waste composition in Bern.

More than half of food losses could be avoided

The analysis shows that the quantity of food waste in trash bins is less today: it increased from around 60 kg to around 50 kg per person per year between 2012 and 2022. Compared to 2012, the fraction of food waste food in household waste increased from 15.2% to 18.4%. This increase is nevertheless explained by a more marked reduction in other categories of waste such as glass, paper and plastics. Each person throws away 23 kg of peelings, 25 kg of food (e.g. dairy products, fruit and vegetables) and 2.2 kg of meat and fish per year on average. More than half of these approximately 50 kg are wasted food, which could have been consumed if stored and eaten on time.

Biowaste (food waste and garden waste such as flowers, branches and potted plants with soil) still represents more than a third (35.4%) of garbage. Composite objects, for example binders, toys and diapers, retain an important place (17.9%), as do plastics (13.4%) and paper (11.9%).

Decline in plastics, glass and paper

The analysis also indicates positive developments. Indeed, the proportions of glass and paper in garbage have decreased compared to the previous study (respectively 3% glass and 12% paper in 2022 compared to 4% and 13% in 2012). The quantities of plastic materials in garbage have also decreased: around 174,000 tonnes in 2022 (13%) compared to 249,000 tonnes in 2012 (15%). This reduction is explained by the proliferation of plastic collection solutions, but also by the fact that plastic packaging tends to become lighter.

Box: Analysis of the composition of garbage Since 1982, the FOEN has analyzed the composition of waste from garbage bags every ten years. As in 2012, the office examined for its new study the composition of 16.5 tonnes of garbage from 33 representative municipalities. The waste was sorted and categorized. The study pays particular attention to food losses and waste that should be recycled (paper, glass, metal, aluminum and garden waste). The office did not analyze production waste and special waste from industry and crafts or construction waste and sewage sludge.

Address for sending questions

Media Section FOEN Telephone: 41 58 462 90 00 Email:


Federal Office for the Environment FOEN

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure not be perfect.

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