Geneva residents risk fines as sorting household waste becomes compulsory

Geneva residents risk fines as sorting household waste becomes compulsory

After a recent vote in the Grand Council, residents of the city of Geneva will be able to recycle without having to pay for bin bags. However, the new law also requires locals to sort their waste. Those who don’t risk a fine from their local council (Gemeinde).

New Geneva law hopes to increase recycling in the city

Last Friday, the new waste law was approved by the Grand Council of Geneva by 92 votes to 2. According to Blick, the new law is designed to replace older environmental policies and intends to reduce the amount of waste produced in Geneva, improve recycling rates and support environmentally friendly ways to dispose of waste.

According to Genevan official Antonio Hodgers, the new law represents a “paradigm shift” in how waste is collected in the city. Speaking to Blick, he said that even though Geneva recycles over 50 percent of recyclable material - higher than the national average - he thought the canton should “go further.”

Geneva becomes first area of Switzerland to go without bag tax

Unlike all other Swiss cantons, which use a “polluter pays” system of waste collection where residents purchase bin bags directly from the council to "subsidise" the system, or require residents to travel to free recycling centres, the largest city in French-speaking Switzerland has pledged to recycle more “without a bag tax,” the first part of the country to do so. This means that, while the new rules may be strict, the recycling system will be paid for largely by government funds.

Mandatory waste sorting to be imposed in Swiss canton

The objective of the law is to reduce the quantity of waste produced in the city by 25 percent by 2025. To achieve this, the Grand Council will impose “mandatory sorting” when residents and businesses throw out their waste. Regular checks will be carried out by each council, and if someone is found to have not separated their waste as dictated by the local authorities, they will receive a fine.

To help fight against single-use plastics, the law now requires that retailers charge for all plastic bags, including those that hold fruit and vegetables in stores. From 2025, takeaway food will no longer be sold in single-use plastics, and shops will be required to take back the packaging of the products they sell after use. 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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