In Switzerland, great value is attached to recycling. Recycling recommendations exist for practically everything and every product. A large portion of household waste is sorted: there are specific collection days for paper, cardboard, bulky waste, metal and green waste. Those who follow the recommendations will be acting in an environmentally friendly way and will save money too! A special app helps and sets reminder.
Each neighborhood has recycling stations (older ones with large containers; newer ones with underground containers) for the proper disposal of glass bottles (sorted by color), aluminum and batteries. Please note the hours of operation for these. There are also collection points for special waste (paint, energy-saving light bulbs) as well as two recycling parks around the city. Each supermarket also has an area where you can dispose of PET (plastic) bottles, batteries and CDs. Finally, there are “repair bars”, second-hand shops, flea markets, bazaars, etc., to help deal with material things in the most sustainable way possible.
The same rules for households apply in the workplace and at the University of Basel. There are refilling systems for water bottles, reusable coffee cups and containers for disposing of PET bottles. For more information on the various environmental policies in place at the university and how you can do your part, visit the Sustainability Office website.
Each canton has its own system for waste management, including its own cost structure. The Canton of Basel-Stadt uses blue plastic bags called Bebbi bags, named after the citizens of Basel. The bags are available in various sizes (17/35/60 liter for CHF 1.20/2.30/3.30 each) in rolls of 10 or 20. These can be purchased in all supermarkets at the customer service desk or at the checkout. The waste disposal fee is included in the purchase price. The Bebbi bag works according to the principle of causation: those who produce less waste have to purchase fewer bags and can use smaller sizes. This outcome is also achieved by making use of the free recycling services provided by the city.
Bebbi bags are collected twice a week on certain days; the waste collection schedule indicates the days waste is collected in specific neighborhoods. The waste collection calendar is available at the local government administration office (normally where you complete your residence registration). It is usually also available online with information on waste disposal in multiple languages.
Important information for avoiding problems with neighbors, landlords or public authorities: Bebbi bags must be placed visibly at the curbside no earlier than 7:00 pm the night before and no later than 7:00 am on the collection day.
A different waste disposal scheme is in place for Allschwil, Münchenstein, Muttenz, etc., because they are suburbs of Basel and therefore belong to the Canton of Baselland. Please inquire with the local administrative office in your municipality.
Switzerland is a highly organized country, and many procedures such as public administration, public transport and the political system work very efficiently and enjoy the trust of the citizens. This makes things such as registration formalities or the bureaucratic procedures for renting an apartment surprisingly quick and relatively easy.
Great value is attached to rules and abiding by them in Switzerland. Individuals are expected to conform to these rules and make an effort to fit in. Disrespecting the rules will be frowned upon by your fellow citizens, which will sometimes be expressed quite openly. You therefore should not be surprised if you are reprimanded, for example, if you use the recycling stations after hours and make noise (for example, in the evening or on Sunday). Knowing the underlying system of values and respecting this system can therefore be helpful.
Tip: for new residents, the city of Basel and Foreign Consultant Agency GGG Migration hold various welcome events in different languages to provide information about many things including cultural customs.