Swiss Cleanup, day 1: 14 SEPT 2018

“Trash-Alley” between Kadi & the top of the hill is no longer trashy!

Today is the first day of the Swiss Cleanup. I had planned to participate in the cleanup in Triesen, Liechtenstein, but could not find any info about it. So, I cleaned up a patch of Langenthal. I often walk this stretch of Thunstettenstrasse between Kadi and Schoren. To date, I never brought a big enough bag to make a dent in the trash on both sides of the road. This time, I did. Plus, I got behind the fence on the one side of the road. What a mess that was!

The haul:
Scratched up shins. (Döh! Wear long pants next time, idiot.)
60L bag full within 30 minutes. 25 cans. 20 of them energy drinks. You-know-who made the majority of them. 20+ PET bottles. 15 beer bottles. 10 tiny schnapps bottles. Lots of gooey cigarette boxes. Countless wrappers.

And a bicycle seat. A really nice one actually.

If you haven’t planned to already, it’s not too late!
Just look on the map here:

and show up at the cleanup nearest you. Or just grab a bag and go out for an hour. Every bit helps!#worldcleanup #igsu #letsdoitworld #worldcleanupday #langenthal

2675 days in review

This blog and the corresponding FB pages went live 2675 days ago. With only a handful of exceptions, I have pickup up trash every single day; and not just 1 piece per day. Some days, I brought a 17 L trash bag with me can could fill it in under 30 minutes. Then there were the official clean-up days, of course. So how many pieces of trash have I picked up since 14 MAY 2011? OMG. No idea. 100,000?

Step 1 of the 1-2 Sauber Schweiz was easy to accomplish. You just do it.

Step 2… well that was not so easy. Step 2 is “Whenever you see somebody throw trash on the ground, pick it up, hand it back to that person, and say, “Excuse me. You dropped something. I think this is yours.”

The goal was to change behavior. First to show which behavior is to be copied. Second, to point out which behavior is not wanted.

I have always had my eye open hoping to see a litterbug in action. However, in all this time, I have seen only ONE person throw trash on the ground! That poses the question, “WHO THROWS THE TRASH AROUND?!” I don’t have a car, so I am not insulated from my surroundings. I am always out and about on foot or on my bike. Back in 2011, I expected to see litterbugs several times per week. But, no. Only once in 2675 days.

Does anybody have any theories?
Do highly-trained trash-commandos go out at 3am and scatter the stuff?
Does the trash already out there have offspring?

Anyway, I have decided to stop the search. I will just stick with STEP 1: keep on cleaning up.

Please feel free to join me.

ebeam Technologies participates in the Swiss National Cleanup Day: 09 SEPT 2016

ebeam Technologies, a brand of the COMET Group, will take part in Switzerland’s National Cleanup Day by organizing the cleanup in Flamatt.

09 SEPT 2016, 10:00

Meeting point: the parking lot of COMET AG.  (grill party after!)

Swiss National Cleanup Day, 09 AUG 2016

Swiss National Cleanup Day, 09 AUG 2016

With this action, ebeam Technologies delivers on one of the promises made in our (soon to be published) environmental policy, to take action to combat “The Backfire Effect”.

This is the first corporate environmental policy we have ever seen that even mentions The Backfire Effect. Countless companies are striving to operate with higher energy-efficiency and to produce products which use less energy. Using less energy allows the products to be manufactured and sold at lower cost. This often causes MORE of that product to be produced. If this product does not go into the proper waste-stream at the end of its life, the net result is more trashing of the planet instead of less. This is a serious problem with products such as single-use packaging.

The goal of this cleanup and ALL cleanups is BEHAVIOR CHANGE. As a society, we must ensure that all products end up in the proper waste-stream. On 09 SEPT 2016, you will see 1000’s of people putting trash & litter back into the proper waste stream.
I hope you will be one of them!

Motion de Buman is very much alive!

Rumors of the demise of Motion de Buman have been greatly exaggerated.

STOPPP engages the politicians 

Motion 10.3850 „Stopp der Verschmutzung durch Wegwerf-Plastiksäcke“

(Stop pollution due to disposable plastic bags)

On 01 OCT 2010, Mr. Dominique de Buman, Member of the Swiss National Council, submitted the following motion:

“Article 30a of the Environmental Protection Act is the section on Avoidance. Paragraph a of this article states: ‘The Federal Council may prohibit placing products intended for once-only, short-term use on the market if the benefits of such use do not justify the harm to the environment that they cause.’

The Federal Council is mandated to prohibit the supply of disposable plastic bags, as is already the case in many countries.”

STOPPP calls for the immediate implementation of Motion de Buman as an Ordinance

After meeting with representatives of the IG DHS and the responsible parties at the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN/BAFU), STOPPP assesses the situation surrounding Motion de Buman as follows:

1.   2012:  Motion de Buman was adopted by the Parliament with the exact wording:

‘The Federal Council may prohibit placing products intended for once-only, short-term use on the market if the benefits of such use do not justify the harm to the environment that they cause.

The Federal Council is mandated to prohibit the supply of disposable plastic bags, as is already the case in many countries.’

2.   2012-2014: It is already taken the FOEN 2 years to prepare the groundwork for an Ordinance which would implement this ban.

3. 2014: The FOEN submits 2 drafts of the Ordinance. Beforehand, those who are directly affected by the ban, must be consulted: the retailers and the consumer protection groups.

The proposed ordinances were not accepted by the Interest Group of Swiss Retailers (IG DHS).  They stated their intention to submit a counter-proposal.

It is common practice in the Swiss political system to use the principle of subsidiarity: first voluntary measures, then inter-trade agreements, and only as a last measure, government regulation.

4.   2014:  The counter-proposal of the retailers association (IG DHS) rejects a full ban on single-use plastic bags, just a ban on bags given away for free.  They support charging a fee for bags, but with numerous exceptions.  Altogether, the suggested approach defeats the whole purpose of the motion. The counter-proposal was rejected by the FOEN and by Parliament Member de Buman.

5.   2014:  The FOEN announces that the ban should be implemented in 2015 if the stakeholders cannot find their own solution.

6.   2015:  The retailers and the consumer protection lobby strongly against an ordinance arguing that the legal basis for a ban on single-use plastic bags does not exist.

7.   September 2015:    STOPPP enters the debate, seeking to examine the willingness to cooperate of the stakeholders.

In a conversation with representatives of the retailers association, STOPPP is informed that the Motion de Buman will be shelved. The duopoly Migros and Coop was opposed to the implementation of government regulation and would seek a voluntary trade agreement which would include reduction targets. The IG DHS would not divulge what such a reduction-program would look like. However, they believe that if a voluntary trade agreement can ever be implemented at all, it could take over 5 years to reach the reduction targets.

On this basis, STOPPP sees this route of voluntary trade agreements as a dead end.

8.  October: 2015:  STOPPP meets with the responsible department heads and addresses the FOEN directly with the following points:

a) The FOEN is negotiating unilaterally with the opponents of the motion, not with proponents as well;

b) The FOEN is not behaving forcefully enough, letting itself be influenced, intimidated even, by lobbyists representing industry;

c) The FOEN was communicating the problem of plastic pollution incorrectly.

The meeting was quite constructive.  Both sides agreed that more needs to be done to reduce plastic pollution. The FOEN is concerned that the legal foundations for the implementation of the motion at the ordinance level is lacking.  STOPPP pledges cooperation and assistance.

9.   November 2015:  STOPPP meets a second time with the FOEN. In this meeting with the legal department of FOEN, STOPPP helps FOEN build the legal arguments needed to counter the opponents of Motion de Buman. The lawyer David Raedler explains to FOEN’s lawyers in meticulous detail how the existing Environmental Protection Law is completely sufficient to implement Motion de Buman with a simple regulation.  A renowned law professor has performed an independent legal assessment of the motion and has concluded that the requirements for an ordinance are indeed fulfilled.  Mr. Raedler presented these findings as well.

The FOEN finds that a ban on plastic bags does not go far enough as it is disproportionate in relation to the whole problem of plastic pollution. There are many other sources of plastic pollution.

Henceforth, the FOEN wants to advocate for a change in the Environmental Protection Act and thus achieve a far-reaching ban on disposable plastic. This is admirable, however, there is the current political landscape to consider. This would have to be adopted by a parliamentary commission and then be approved by Federal Councilor, Doris Leuthard. The motion could be derailed by politics.

STOPPP argues that since the ban on plastic bags was already adopted by Parliament in 2012 and CAN be implemented quickly as an ordinance (as opposed to a change in the law), the immediate implementation of Motion de Buman at the ordinance level is the way to go.

This action will have a “lighthouse” effect. It will sensitize consumers to the magnitude of plastic pollution.

STOPPP also presented the FOEN with a new independent study in which it is proven that great quantities of plastic and the remains of plastic bags were found in the Rhine River near Basel.

Lastly, STOPPP has offered to support the FOEN and speak in front of the Parliamentary Commission during the session on Motion de Buman and in general on the situation of plastic pollution in Switzerland to deliver the key arguments for the immediate implementation of Motion de Buman.


The FOEN wants to do the right thing.  Their desire to do what is good for the planet and for the residents of Switzerland should not be called into question.  They are in a tough position on two fronts: public opinion and resources. On the political side, they will face criticism regardless of the route they suggest.  On the one side, from environmental protection groups who will claim they do too little. On the other side, from industry-sponsored groups who have the money and power to be loud and scary.  Nonetheless, the courage to act must win over the fear of noise from those who claim they will be inconvenienced.

On the other front, resources, they are paralyzed just like most organizations are these days.  They have a long backlog of mandates to process and lack the resources to get them through the pipeline in a timely manner. What should take only one year can take three.

It is the job of UVEK and their boss, Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard, to set up the government agencies in a way such that they can implement democracy in a timely manner.

STOPPP and the FOEN are in total agreement that measures against plastic pollution must happen.  Bringing the scientific hard facts and legal arguments, we will continue to work for the immediate implementation of Motion de Buman. The job of the FOEN and of Parliament will be much easier when they know that they have the public’s support.

Thus, we ask the members of STOPPP and the citizens of Switzerland to urge Ms. Leuthard, UVEK, FOEN, and their representatives in Parliament to do the right thing.  That means:

  1. Implement Motion de Buman immediately, and
  2. empower the agencies to implement the will of the people in a timely manner.

For more info on how you can stop plastic pollution in Switzerland, surf to the STOPPP website:

STOPPP = Stop Plastic Pollution Switzerland

I urge you all to become members of the new NGO STOPPP.

STOPPP = Stop Plastic Pollution Switzerland.

Our first action is to accelerate the implementation of Motion de Buman.

Motion 10.3850 Stopp der Verschmutzung durch Wegwerf­ Plastiksäcke was passed by the Swiss Parliament in 2010, yet it has not yet been implemented!  It is high time that it is.  We are working with the BAFU and others to implement the ban on single-use plastic bags.  You can help by becoming a member and better yet, volunteering to eliminate plastic pollution in Switzerland.

Swiss Cleanup 2015: LANGENTHAL

10 people. 2 hours.  Plenty of trash for everyone.

I climbed over a fence and trudged through “the jungle” between the fence and the Langete.  I wish I had a machete.  There was trash in there that had certainly been there for years.  Close to 60 Liters collected in just 30 minutes.

Next year, we’ll need 1000 people and 1000 vacuum cleaners to remove the 100’s of 1000’s of cigarette butts.

Special thanks go out to:
IGSU for driving the nationwide campaign so well, and
the SP and Green Parties for organizing the Langenthal event.  BRAVO!

Odd that the SVP did not collaborate with them. One of Switzerland’s most active and vocal proponents for combating littering is Nationalrätin, Andrea Geissbühler (SVP).

Experience in other countries shows that as soon as participation in cleanups reaches 5% of the population in a given region, they turn the tide.  The amount of trash and litter decreases.  Therefore, we urge all the Gemeinde and organizations who run their own cleanups on different days to consolidate.  Critical mass is key.  The media does not report on 20 people or even 200 people out on a cleanup.  200,000, however, is a different story.  Let’s work together to reach this critical mass in 2016.  We WILL turn the tide.

Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (12) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (13) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (11) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (7) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (3) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (4) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (5) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (6) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (9) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (8) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (10) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (15) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (2) Cleanup Day Langenthal 12sept2015 (1)