Rethinking Lifestyle

Recycling Plastic Bottles in Switzerland

  • George Klassen, Guest Author
  • Advocate, South Eastman Transition Initiative
Plastic Bottles

The message below is from my friend Alois Mueller in Switzerland:

“Coca Cola Switzerland has announced that they will completely move to recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles for all their Switzerland-bottled products and have already reached around 60%. If we can believe their announcement, they are presently upgrading their bottle production facilities and will achieve the 100% goal by the end of 2022.

Recycled PET bottles require only about 50% of the production energy compared with bottles from new material but the production is still slightly more expensive. It seems to be a step in the right direction. Recycling PET is like recycling metals and can be done indefinitely.

P.S. If I understand the relevant framework in Switzerland correctly, the companies selling products in PET packaging must ensure and prove that a minimum percentage of the packaging is recycled in Switzerland. Presently around 80 to 90% of all PET bottles sold in Switzerland are correctly recycled. 98% of all companies selling products in PET bottles are members of a non-profit organisation which is engaged in collection and reprocessing bottles. All these companies pay is an average of 0.02CHF (2.6 cents Canadian) for each bottle sold to the non-profit organisation to cover the recycling expenses.

I believe this is a rather typical arrangement in our part of the world where the government tells the relevant companies that they have the choice to organise this kind of activities themselves or the government will prepare a law. There are dozens of cases around here where the companies decided to act on their own.”

Switzerland is setting a good example for us in Canada in several ways. First, pollution by discarded plastic items is a significant global environmental problem, especially in oceans, and recycling the plastic should significantly reduce that pollution. Secondly, by reusing the PET we are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.