The more that is consumed, the greater the amount of waste there is to be burned or recycled. The energy consumption and pollutant emissions that are linked to waste incineration have been considerably reduced as a result of high standards of disposal and technical measures. The combustion heat is also used for energy production. There remains a problem with the large-scale consumption of resources which is linked to a high quantity of waste.
The amount of incinerated waste produced in Switzerland has stabilized in recent years and in 2017 stood at approximately 3.55 million tonnes. By far the largest part of this, 80%, is household waste. This is waste that comes from individual households as well as other waste that is comparable in content and is produced in industrial or commercial settings. The remainder consists of construction waste, certain types of special waste and sludge. One positive factor is that nowadays almost all combustible and non-recyclable waste is actually incinerated in municipal solid waste incinerators and there is no more illegal incineration or landfilling. The relatively high amount of waste is not an important problem in relation to disposal. Pollutant emissions are minimal and all 30 Swiss municipal solid waste incinerators (MSWI) use the combustion heat for electricity production or to supply directly district heating networks and industrial plants (see also Indicator «Energy efficiency of municipal solid waste incinerators»). Also, efforts are currently being made to recover metals from the incineration residues, which would greatly improve the environmental impact of the incinerators. The amount of waste does, however, show that the consumption of resources in Switzerland remains high. For this reason, the status is evaluated as unsatisfactory.
- Related indicators
- Municipal solid waste
A direct comparison is not always possible because types of waste can be classified in different ways (e.g. replacement fuels in coal-fired power stations). Generally speaking, Switzerland, with its high standard of living, generates a relatively large amount of waste which is due to the high standard of living but is made visible through the complete and detailed recording of all types of waste.
The quantities of waste (minus imports) delivered to the MSWIs are recorded, so that all inland combustible waste is accounted for. This includes household waste and waste from construction sites, special waste that is licensed to be incinerated in MSWIs and sludge. Only in exceptional cases and only in very small quantities may combustible waste be deposited in a landfill. The special waste burned in special facilities is not included under this indicator.