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Waste disposal as final storage – and the Swiss solution

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Besides waste incineration, the only other practicable way to free humanity from its self-inflicted waste problem is by disposal at landfills. The established principle of

Avoidance, minimisation, recycling, environmental decontamination

is applicable here and dictates that only the residue from waste incineration should end up in a landfill. At the end of the 20th century, however, it was as much politically as it was technically impossible to manage without short term, direct dumping of waste; the former being the case if a community did not have access to an incineration site; and the latter being the case if an incineration site was temporarily out of service, then alternatives had to be sought. The stated aims of the Swiss waste management industry at the time included: the reduction of the waste mountain; the continued expansion of reserve incineration capacity; the modernisation of existing incineration sites in order to minimise the release of hazardous substances into the environment by producing a chemically inert residue. Accordingly, today only chemically inert substances are to be reintroduced into natural “ground, water and air” systems.

Once every Swiss village had an old quarry or a dell somewhere nearby, usually in or hidden by the forest, which was used as the rubbish dump. As recently as in the 1980s these dumps were common throughout the country and frequently on fire. A notorious example is the hazardous waste disposal site of Kölliken AG, which opened in 1978 and which is examined in closer detail in section 9.5.1. What this example shows – assuming that national income, consumption of goods and waste production would all continue to grow – was that, even in Switzerland, an improvement was needed in the legal statutes governing waste management. Several political attempts were made to demand universally applicable regulations to control the construction and operation of rubbish dumps, the allocation of particular types of waste to certain treatment sites, and also the quality of treated waste. Based on the “Leitbild für die Schweizerische Abfallwirtschaft” (The overall concept of the Swiss waste management) published in 1986, the first draft of the “Technische Verordnung über Abfälle TVA” (The Technical Waste Order) was delivered in December 1990 and ratified by the Federal Council on February 1, 1991. Since the end of the last century, the “combustion order” and the "landfill prohibition" are also fixed into the order.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2008

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