I once saw some dubious plants growing in giant paint buckets sitting in an old bathtub next to a river in Alaska. That’s how waste is disposed of and reused in my home state. Things are a lot different here in Switzerland. Last year Lauren wrote an article called Recycling which covers your standard waste like paper, plastic milk cartons, glass and more recently in 2018 organic waste. But what about those odd items like chemicals, paint or a broken chair?
The disposal of medicine in Switzerland is easy: all expired or non-used drugs (prescription and over-the-counter) can be returned to any pharmacy to be disposed of properly.
Bathtubs, Paint, Tiles, Car Batteries, Wood, and nearly everything else
We all know that throwing paint, chemicals, rubber and car batteries in the garbage is just wrong. But what can you do with it? I discovered while renovating my house that there is a place in Geneva where you can bring all your chemical and cumbersome waste to be separated and recycled or disposed of appropriately. It is called Espace de Récupération Cantonal and it is located in La Praille not far from the M-Parc.
Be aware that the opening times are not the standard shopping hours and that you must be a Geneva resident to use this facility (ie. GE license plates).
As a side note, I saved a lot of money by disposing my bathtub here. If my builder had taken it to the site where professionals must dispose of building materials, I would have had to pay an additional CHF 200.
Electronics, Appliances and Vacuum Cleaners
Regarding the disposal of electronics and appliances, you have three options.
In Switzerland, we pay a recycle tax when we purchase electronics and appliances. The stores are required to take back these items when they are no longer usable. Depending on the size of your product, you can return it to Migros, Coop, Interdiscount or any other large electronics or home appliance store. The small items can be given to the small stores and the large items to the large stores. I am a Migros shopper so I tend to return small electronics to my local grocery store and they take it every time without question.
You can also use the L’Espace Récupération that I mentioned above for all larger items.
Lastly, you can leave them on the curb the afternoon before the “cumbersome” garbage pickup. The benefit of this option is if your item is still usable there are often people touring the neighborhoods to pick up these deals. But I think, though I am not sure, the downfall is the garbage truck can’t recycle everything properly because it is a mix of electronics, furniture, bicycles and toys.
Although there are no special bins, light bulbs and printer cartridges may be returned to the customer service desk of your grocery store. Many people don’t realize that the white light bulb pictured here (a CFL) contain small amounts of mercury.
I know this is a lot to take in with so many recycling and disposal locations. But how cool that the system is in place to keep the landfills and incinerator relatively “clean.”
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/.