Waste disposal & recycling in Bern and Biel/Bienne
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).
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 Bern
Please note: The information below is for the city of Bern. Towns surrounding Bern (Muri-Gümligen, Worb, Köniz, etc) will have their own rules and regulations. It is best to go to the local town hall or check the website of your commune for information. In general, a comprehensive information package is given to residents when they register at town hall.
Another good idea is to simply ask your neighbours. They will be happy to help you understand the system.
In the city of Bern it is required to purchase official blue bin bags to dispose of your household trash. The price of these bags includes garbage collection taxes. These bags are not for recyclables. Small bulky items up to 50x50x100 cm will be picked up if they are marked with a special sticker (purchasable at Migros or Coop). Both the bags and stickers can be purchased at most shops.
Depending on your neighbourhood, full bin bags should be placed either on the street on designated days or in containers provided by your building's facility management. Open the "Abfallkalender" pdf on the city of Bern website (DE) to find annual garbage collection (DE) dates.
The following bag sizes are available:
1.70 CHF/bag (This is the size that fits best in the garbage bin.)
Sticker for small bulky items
5.50 CHF (These stickers can be bought at Migros and Coop and used for items measuring 50x50x100 cm.)
Recycling in Bern
Glass, aluminium and plastic PET bottles need to be separated and then deposited at local recycling points. Glass items are further separated by colour. PET bottles can also be left at supermarket collection points. Paper gets picked up on specific days, as listed in the garbage calendar. You can also take paper to the large collection facilities.
There are 3 large recycling points in Bern, located at:
Opening hours of both large recycling points:
- Monday-Friday: 08.00 - 12.00; 13.00 - 18.30
- Saturday: 08.00 - 15.00
- on Sundays and official holidays, the large recycling points are closed
Apart from these large sites, there are 40 smaller recycling points located throughout the city that look like the below picture. You can also donate furniture, clothes and books to brockenstube or second hand shops. Some of these also provide free pickup services.
Texaid is the leading organization in Switzerland for collecting and recycling used clothe. There are various locations where you can drop off your old clothes and shoes and also a couple of pickup days each year.
Garbage disposal in the city of Biel-Bienne
The city of Biel-Bienne provides a handbook (DE/FR) that explains their waste and recycling system. The city also publishes an annual garbage collection calendar (DE/FR). Rubbish is collected twice a week. Depending on your neighbourhood garbage bags should be placed on the sidewalk on designated days or in local collection containers. Biel-Bienne has its own official garbage bag and collection stickers for purchase:
17l 0.90 CHF/bag
35l 1.70 CHF/bag (This is the size that fits best in the garbage bin.)
60l 3.00 CHF/bag
Sticker for bulky items or larger bags (60l =1 Sticker, 110l = 2 stickers)
Green waste does not need to be separated from food scraps and peelings, both go into the same green bins available in all districts.
Recycling in Biel-Bienne
In Biel-Bienne you can dispose of all materials, of all sizes at Müve (DE), the large facility in town. You can also refer to the official handbook for recycling (DE/FR). Paper must be bundled neatly and placed in the appropriate pickup container. It is collected once a month. Carton should be flattened and bundled in 50 square centimeters. Place a vignette sticker on it that you purchase from the supermarket and place it outside with your rubbish. It is collected twice a week.