Swiss waste tax to pay for site clean-ups

Tax revenues expected to slash government expenditure on "orphan" contaminated sites

Switzerland is to introduce a tax on landfilling or export of wastes to help pay for cleaning up "orphan" contaminated site, the country's environment ministry announced today. To take effect from 1 January next year, the tax is intended to substantially accelerate work to deal with contaminated sites whose owners are unknown or unable to pay.

Previous government efforts to deal with the 3-4,000 estimated contaminated sites in Switzerland have been only partially successful. Cleaning procedures have been specified and local authorities (cantons) have been encouraged to set up funds to pay for clean-ups. For orphan sites, the federal government will pay 40% of the costs and the cantons the remaining 60%.

The new tax is expected to help enable significant funding to be made available rapidly for dealing with sites that are judged to pose a real threat to the environment. Currently it can take up to two years from a site being identified for cantons to secure the funds necessary for this.

Landfill operators will pay SFr15 per tonne for accepting stabilised wastes at professionally managed sites, rising to SFr20 for controlled biologically active wastes and SFr50 per tonne for waste being exported for underground disposal. The charges are expected to increase costs for municipal landfill operators by SF4 per inhabitant per year.

Follow Up:
Swiss environment ministry, tel: +44 322 9356.

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