Green Economy Action Plan: priority areas

The report “Federal measures for a resource-conserving, future-proof Switzerland (Green Economy)” 2020 includes reporting of the status of resource use, the need for action and the 2016-2019 measures by the federal government. The 23 measures concentrate on the three priority areas of consumption and production, waste and raw materials and overarching instruments.


Important measures have already been implemented

There have been some achievements: For instance, the FOEN has signed an agreement with the sectors concerned to reduce imports of peat and thus to conserve ecologically important bogs. Support has also been given to a project with SwissZinc to reclaim zinc residues from waste incineration. This should cover a third of Switzerland’s zinc requirements in the future. Also Reffnet.ch – a network of specialists – is advising companies on resource efficiency. As a result, some 170 businesses have taken action to date to increase their efficiency and save costs.

 

Area 1. Consumption and production

Product manufacture and current consumer behaviour use large quantities of raw materials and other natural resources such as water and land and cause major environmental impacts. Increasing consumer awareness so that consumers can make more environmentally-friendly decisions when it comes to the purchase and use of products is important for resource-conserving consumer behaviour. To achieve this, transparency and standards relating to ecologically important raw materials and products must be improved and supported, and products must be manufactured in a way that is more environmentally friendly and conserves resources. Cooperation between government and the private sector based on defined targets is important for the emergence of resource-conserving production methods and business models.


Area 2. Waste and raw materials

The extraction of raw materials and disposal of products that are no longer in use can cause major environmental impacts. In addition, the incorrect management of waste can result in the loss of valuable raw materials. Annual per capita volumes of waste reach approximately 700 kg in Switzerland (200 kg above the OECD average). Waste prevention is therefore very important in reducing resource use and the resultant environmental impact. Therefore, the Green Economy aims to achieve a more efficient use of raw materials and the closure of material cycles. With the enactment of the new waste ordinance (Abfallverordnung, VVEA), the Federal Council has given a high priority to waste prevention and the improved recycling of waste. Waste is raw materials in the wrong place.


Area 3. Cross-cutting instruments

When it comes to supporting and developing existing initiatives, the dialogue with business, science and society is crucial. Because a large proportion of Switzerland's environmental impact arises abroad, involvement at international level is very important. The consolidation of the knowledge base and sector-specific approaches for increasing efficiency are also needed, for example in the area of sustainable finance. To establish whether Switzerland is developing in the direction of a green and resource-conserving economy, the progress already achieved requires comprehensive measurement.


Outlook

The ongoing work on the individual measures will continue on the basis of the current legal framework and political mandates.

What is increasingly needed to achieve a significant reduction in resource use – and the resultant environmental impact – is a holistic approach, especially in the sectors with most environmental relevance: food and agriculture, housing and construction and mobility.

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Last modification 19.06.2020

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