Paper and cardboard

Approximately 1 million tonnes of pulp is required annually in Switzerland to produce 1.2 million tonnes of paper. 90% of this quantity is acquired from reused waste paper. As a result, waste paper and cardboard recycling makes an important contribution to the sustainable management of wood as a renewable resource.


Data availability is quite good (see FOEN statistics).

Separate collection

The separate collection of used paper/cardboard has been taking place in Switzerland for decades and has become a matter of habit for most of the population. Kerbside collections made on specified days (the "collect system") are widespread. Collection in containers at communal collection points (the "bring" system) is also customary in many areas. Used paper is either collected separately (especially when it is destined for paper factories) or in conjunction with the cardboard (when destined for cardboard factories), according to the preference of the recycling company concerned.


The material collected is either delivered directly to the paper or cardboard factories or it is pre-sorted into various quality grades at sorting facilities. Since the quality of this material does not entirely conform to the needs of the domestic recycling companies, substantial amounts are exported and, conversely, any grades of used paper/cardboard that cannot be sourced domestically are imported. The recycled material content of different types of paper and cardboard varies markedly from product to product.


  • local authorities, Schweizerischer Städteverband (Communal infrastructure)
  • Information plattform (Recycling paper + cardboard; German, French)
  • Association of the Swiss Pulp, Paper and Cartonboard Industry (ZPK; German)
  • Association of Swiss Waste Paper Traders (VSIA; German)
  • Alliance of the Swiss Corrugated Fibreboard Industry (IWIS; German, French)
  • paper and cardboard factories.


For decades, refuse collection and disposal have been financed by municipalities through taxes and fees that are volume-unrelated; a practice that does not comply with the ‘polluter pays principle'. Given that world market prices for recovered paper and cardboard fluctuate strongly, the cost accounting in this area is subject to unexpected and considerable change. These two reasons, combined with the cost pressure on municipalities' accounting, have induced city and municipal councils to find a new financing model in collaboration with the buyers of recovered paper. The result is a framework agreement, which, starting in January 2007, will guarantee every municipality the purchase of its collected paper as well as a minimum return thereon. Irrespective of this, many cities and municipalities have, for quite some time now, been negotiating favourable conditions with buyers in the recovered paper market.

Measures to be taken

The collection rate for used paper is to be maintained at the current level or, if possible, further increased. Municipalities have a vested interest in regularly optimising their collection infrastructure. An important aspect in this respect is the type of collection: a paper-only collection generates higher returns than a combined collection of paper and cardboard. Public information about recycling of the used paper collected in the communes still needs to be improvedent and remains an important ongoing commitment.

Further information

Last modification 26.10.2021

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