What are the main causes of waste


Causes of Littering 

The causes for littering are varied. The public space, but also the great outdoors, becomes mobile space. Many activities are shifting from the private sphere to the public, such as a picnic on the park bench at lunchtime or a cozy get-together on the lakeshore in the evening.

Another reason can be found in the low level of social control in public spaces, i.e. anonymity increases the likelihood of littering. A phenomenon that can be aggravated by group effects. Personal values ​​contribute significantly to littering. Things of value are not left behind and places of personal connection with are less polluted.

There is also not the same amount of suffering everywhere and at all times. On mild summer nights in recreation zones there is more lightning than in places with a transitory character. In short: the cause lies in human behavior.


The effects of littering can be divided into three categories: aesthetic, ecological and economic effects.

Aesthetic effects: Cleanliness is an essential component and an important aspect for the quality of life of the population and the image of a city or other public space. Littering is a visual nuisance and thus affects the quality of a living space.

Ecological impact: Littered materials cannot be returned to material cycles and are therefore withdrawn from recycling. New resources with all the associated environmental impacts have to be extracted and processed. Littering is also a threat to animals and plants.

Economic impact: Littering is expensive. The cleaning costs amount to around CHF 200 million annually, 75% in public spaces. In addition, there are high costs for preventive measures and awareness campaigns. In a broader sense, there is also socio-economic damage, for example for tourism.


Littering can only be effectively combated if various measures are combined and taken in a targeted manner. Measures that start with human behavior have the greatest impact. The continuous mix of measures is crucial.

Public Relations and Awareness Raising: This can be done through advertising posters, advertisements, anti-littering ambassadors or jointly organized cleaning campaigns in the communities and neighborhoods. You can order free posters or book IGSU ambassadors from the IGSU environmental interest group.

Information and education: The development of environment-related knowledge and specific skills is very important, especially for young people. Various organizations offer teaching materials or school visits to show children and young people how to use natural resources responsibly.

Sanctions: Awareness-raising and information work makes sense, but does not always have the desired effect and not on all population groups. This is why the legal basis for littering buses has been created in some cantons and cities. Other cities deliberately do without buses because this sanction cannot be implemented in reality.


The cantons, communes and cities are responsible for cleanliness. This includes the provision of the necessary infrastructure as well as education and prevention work. The municipal infrastructure (SSV / KI) has developed a cleanliness index for the evaluation and monitoring of cleanliness in cities and municipalities.

The FOEN assumes an advisory and support role between the various cantonal, communal and private-sector actors.

Best practice sharing: The FOEN is responsible for processing and sharing knowledge and develops agreements between the public sector and business for anti-littering measures such as the agreement between free newspapers and municipalities.

Round tables: The FOEN has set up a round table at which information and measures against littering are exchanged and discussed annually with stakeholders from the private sector, associations, cities, municipalities and cantons.

Support: The FOEN advises the cantons and municipalities on the implementation of measures such as the littering toolbox and provides financial and technical support for projects of associations and private individuals.

No-Littering Label: The label for cleanliness-conscious cities, communities and schools

In order to support public institutions in the fight against littering, the IG clean environment (IGSU) awards the no-littering label. This identifies cities, municipalities and schools that actively campaign against littering with targeted measures. The label contributes to the positive image of the institution, strengthens the measures against littering and is at the same time recognition and motivation for all people involved. The label can be applied for with little effort, costs nothing and can be used in all communication.