Waste disposal & recycling in Zurich
The Swiss are efficient and conscientious about recycling (DE/FR/IT) and have a myriad of rules and regulations regarding the issue. Unsurprisingly, Switzerland tops world rankings for environmental action (FR/DE). Adapting to Switzerland's waste and recycling collection system (DE) requires time and effort but it is good for your conscience and for your wallet. Recycling collection points for most materials are widely available.
All the information you need about waste and recycling is provided by the Federal Office of the Environment (DE/FR/IT). You can click your canton on the map to find related links. For tips on saving energy and preserving the environment visit Energy-Environment (DE/FR). Read more about Switzerland's thorough rubbish disposal and recycling systems and their benefits on Swiss Recycling (DE/FR/IT).
Please note: The below regulations are for the city of Zurich. Outside of the city regulations may be different. Some communes use a sticker system where you buy your own black bin bags and add stickers according to the size of the bag. Check with your commune for local regulations.
Useful resources in English:
- Ch.ch provides links to cantonal waste disposal and recycling information.
- The recycling map shows collection points for all types of waste and centre opening times.
Garbage Disposal in the city of Zurich
In the city of Zurich it is required to purchase official bin bags to dispose of your household trash. In Zurich they are known as "Züri-Sacks" and can be purchased in all supermarkets (they are usually not out on the shelves so make sure to ask at the cashier's desk).
These bags are NOT for recyclables. Compost, PET bottles, glass, carton, paper, aluminium cans, batteries and other toxic waste are disposed of separately to household garbage.
Different bag sizes are available:
Unlike in some parts of Switzerland, full bin bags are not picked up from the street. They must be placed in designated neighbourhood containers.
The City of Zurich's waste disposal department (DE) publishes details of collection dates for household waste, carton, and paper. Some information about waste separation is available in English. Enter your home address to open a personalised calendar with pickup dates for all types of waste.
The city of Zurich recently introduced a new collection system for organic matter (DE). A subscription is necessary, call +41 (0)44 645 77 77 for more information.
Winterthur has its own recycling system (DE).
Recycling in Zurich
Glass and aluminium need to be separated and then deposited at local recycling points. These are usually located near main tram or bus stops, near post offices or at main shopping areas. Glass items are further separated by colour. Plastic PET bottles can be dropped off at the large containers in front of supermarkets.
For larger items that need to be disposed of organise a collection with ERZ Entsorgung & Recycling Zürich (DE). If you live outside of Zurich, most communities offer a recycle point where bulky items can be dropped off. Check locations and opening times on the website of your commune.
Another way to dispose of bulky or electrical items is via the E tram (DE), which stops by different neighbourhoods on given days.
Cardboard and paper are picked up for free in front of your house once a month. Please check with your local community centre for the calendar and pick up days. Paper, including newspapers, magazines, printed materials, telephone books (but NO books), as well as and cardboard, such as egg boxes, vegetable boxes, cardboard boxes and binders (with metallic parts removed), must be piled up and bundled up with twine.
Large items, oil, clothes and metals can also be delivered to these waste deposit centres:
Recyclinghof Hagenholz in Zürich Nord
Recyclinghof Werdhölzli in Zürich West
Please check with your commune city centre for the nearest recycling centre to you.
Clothes and shoes recycling bags are usually collected by charities throughout the year. You will receive dedicated bags in your mailbox with the name of the charity and collection days. Place the bags in front of your house in the evening before planned collection day. These Brockenstube or second hand stores are also a great place to shop for antiques.