The challenge: in Switzerland, nine out of ten consumers want to recycle their beverage cartons but recycling infrastructure has thus far not enabled it. Without legislation to provide a legal framework, the country’s used beverage cartons were ending up in incineration. Voluntary initiatives across the value chain are therefore key to drive recycling of beverage cartons in Switzerland.
The initiative: Through our membership in GKR, the Swiss beverage carton association, we have played an important role in facilitating a partnership between GKR, the supermarket ALDI SUISSE, the sorter Müller Recycling and the producer of individual solid and cardboard packaging Model AG to trial collection, separation and recycling of combined beverage cartons and plastic bottles. Initially, this began as a pilot project in over 90 municipalities. In 2015, ALDI SUISSE came on board, looking to offer combined recycling points for beverage cartons and other plastics in-store, following repeated consumer requests and in line with the company’s own environmental goals. At the same time, Müller Recycling opened the first high-tech plant in the country that could sort beverage cartons and plastic bottles from the same stream and Model constructed a new pioneer recycling facility in Switzerland investing more than 35 million CHF. With combined recycling now possible, ALDI SUISSE became the first retail partner to offer mixed collection points.
The value: by the end of 2017, ALDI SUISSE will have launched over 180 collection points in its stores across Switzerland. Aided by social media communication, customer feedback has been very positive and, just eight months in, recycling rates are at 60 percent around each collection point.
Looking ahead: for the first time in Switzerland, consumers can be confident that beverage cartons will be separated and recycled. With the potential to save the equivalent of more than 11,000 football fields of forest, the partnership is improving recycling infrastructure and stimulating new market opportunities. It is hoped that the success of the programme will attract further investment to expand to other plants and retailers, making this a model to inspire both municipalities and retailers throughout Switzerland and in other countries.
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