Sustainable Material Management

To manage materials sustainably, it is necessary to collect information on direct and indirect material flows and on the impacts of materials, products or services throughout their whole life cycle.


In order to keep Switzerland supplied with goods, considerable quantities of material are turned over: 47 tonnes per head and year is the current amount if the materials needed for the manufacture of all products are also included. 32 tonnes of that total are hidden in import goods alone and are therefore consumed abroad. Only 15 tonnes per head and year reach the Swiss economy directly.

What the FOEN is doing

Not all material flows are equally relevant from an ecological, economic or social point of view. In the FOEN project "Flows of Material and Goods" relevant materials are described from an ecological and social point of view and current consumption quantities and disposal routes are depicted in the form of material flow diagrams. The project focuses on:

  • Materials which through their extraction, processing, use or disposal cause large-scale environmental pollution at the present time
  • Materials which may become difficult to procure in the future (see Project for Rare Technical Metals)
  • Materials for which it is suspected there may be a potential for better recycling

The following two studies have already been completed:

  • Material flows and environmental effects of the service 'Internet Schweiz' (2010)
  • Material flows of electric and electronic appliances in Switzerland (2009)

In the right-hand column the studies themselves can be downloaded together with a presentation showing the results of the study.

These activities complement the Integrated Product Policy which also has as its objective the minimizing of environmental pollution caused by products over their whole life-span (planning, production, use and disposal).

Further information

Last modification 11.07.2019

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