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Since the beginning of the 20th century the population of Switzerland has more than doubled. In 1900 there were 3.3 million inhabitants and in 2009 7.8 million people lived in Switzerland. The increase in the number of households was greater (20%) between 1990 and 2009 than the growth in population (15%). Thus the number of persons per household is decreasing.
Household consumption expenditure grew between 1990 and 2009 at about the same rate as the economy.
The gross domestic product increased in 2009 by 27%, while consumption expenditure rose by 28% to 310 billion francs.
Since 1990 the waste mountain has grown by 33%. This increase is a consequence of population and economic growth.
In the year 2009 around 19.4 million tonnes of waste were accumulated in total.
Even if the volume of waste in Switzerland is constantly increasing, waste management and recovery procedures have been continually improving. For municipal solid waste, the proportion of separate collections and recovery was 51% of the total waste in 2009. In the year 2000 it was only 45%. The recycling rates of
are particularly high.
The amount of waste that cannot be recycled could be reduced from the 1988 peak of 432 kg per person to 340 kg per person in the year 2009.
Air pollutants produced by municipal waste incineration are to a large extent retained by a multi-step purification and denitrification process, so that only slight quantities of pollutants are discharged into the atmosphere. By comparison with traffic, heating systems and industrial furnaces, the MSWIs make only a slight contribution to environmental pollution today. Moreover, all 30 Swiss MSWIs use combustion heat to produce electricity or to supply district heating networks and industrial facilities.
Littering, the inconsiderate dropping or leaving of litter, is an increasing phenomenon that creates additional work for waste management operations. Litter-dropping creates annual costs of around 200 million francs.
In 2009 around 1.8 million tonnes of hazardous waste were specially treated or else exported for environmentally sound disposal under strictly monitored conditions. This hazardous waste stems mainly from remediation operations in contaminated facilities, which have to be concluded by 2025.
Consumer decisions always have an impact on the environment. With consumer goods, for instance, the quantity bought, the source, the quality and the production methods are crucial.
The production and use of consumer goods today cause greater environmental polllution than disposal procedures. For this reason it is increasingly important to take consumption and production decisions in favour of resource-conserving products and to include the whole life-cycle of a product in the decision-making process.
The scarcity of raw materials makes it more important to conserve non-renewable resources such as metals or gravel. Increasingly, therefore, they are recycled.
Since 1984 the federal government policy on waste has led to a marked reduction in environmental pollution caused by waste disposal.
Waste disposal in Switzerland is basically financed on the polluter pays principle. In 2006 around 76% of the population financed their waste disposal completely or partially with quantity-dependent fees, 24% of the population financed them with income tax or only with a flat fee.
In order to optimise the organisation of separate collections, the Federal Government, the cantons, associations and private organisations are raising awareness with the following measures:
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