Why should we care about this issue
a) Why should we care about this theme?
Our consumer behaviour has impacts on the environment. From the products and services we use, the places we live and work, to our leisure pursuits, our choices have consequences. Although each of us as individuals may add only marginally to the pressure on the environment, the environmental pressure from society as a whole is substantial. In 2009, Liechtenstein’s municipal solid waste arisings amounted to 983 kg per person, of which 75 % was collected separately and recycled.
The state and impacts
b) What are the state (S) and impacts (I) related to this theme, including impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being, both at national level as well as in transboundary terms?
The relations between Liechtenstein and Switzerland are very close and friendly. The two countries have concluded numerous bilateral agreements. The most important treaty is the Customs Treaty of 1923, which, together with other agreements, ensures an open border between Liechtenstein and Switzerland, also for passenger traffic. The Customs Treaty provides that all Swiss customs regulations and all other Swiss federal legislation shall apply to Liechtenstein to the extent to which their application is necessary for the customs union. All provisions of Swiss federal legislation that would give rise to a contribution requirement by the Swiss Confederation are exempt from this rule. In addition, all trade and customs treaties concluded between Switzerland and third countries apply to Liechtenstein pursuant to the customs treaty. The customs treaty is also relevant to environmental law. The bulk of Swiss environmental standards also apply to Liechtenstein.
In 2009, some 35 000 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) were generated, which is the equivalent of approx. 983 kg per inhabitant. The percentage of all MSW collected separately was 75 % or 26 000 tonnes.
It is thanks to this increase that the level of MSW incineration has risen just slightly in recent years, despite population growth, averaging 26 000 tonnes per annum.
The success of separate collections is also reflected in the composition of the household waste left for regular refuse collection. Changing consumption patterns is making a significant difference. Goods made of natural products, such as wood, leather or metal, are being replaced by composite products which cannot be separated, and the majority of which contain plastic. Biogenic waste from the kitchen or garden as well as food leftovers account for 29 % of incinerated waste, the largest category by weight. Paper and cardboard come next, accounting for 20 %, while composite products and composite packaging weigh in at 16 % and plastics at 13 %.
Fig 1: Development of total of MSW in Liechtenstein
The key drivers and pressures
c) What are the related key drivers (D) and pressures (P) at national level?
Statistics show how consumer behaviour is changing: between 1990 and 2008 the population of Liechtenstein increased by 22 %. In spite of the increasing population and economic growth, the amount of MSW per capita rose just slightly. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of private households rose by 60 %. The settlement area increased by 7.9 % between 1996 and 2002.
The 2020 outlook
d) What is the 2020 outlook (date flexible) for the topic in question and how will this affect possible impacts on the natural environment and human health/well-being?
Our principal object in the next years will be to close and complete the flow of material of the different waste types and to manage the change from waste management to a sustainable use of raw materials. The sustainable use of raw materials itself, ecological waste management, and the guarantee of secure disposal will be central to the considerations. Furthermore, the economic and social requirements for a sustainable use of raw materials will be increasingly involved in the process. This will protect the natural resources and thus reduce the impact on the environment.
Existing and planned responses
e) Which responses (R) have been put in place or are planned at national level for the theme in question?
In recent years, Liechtenstein’s waste management policy has significantly reduced the level of environmental pressure caused by waste management, despite continuous growth in the total volume of MSW arisings. This trend can be attributed to the introduction of high waste management standards, to a highly effective infrastructure, and to a financing system that makes the waste producers responsible for the costs of disposal.
A further issue is the disposal and recycling of construction waste. To close the material flow of this waste, the government has drawn up an implementation concept. The main aim is to use recycled concrete and asphalt produced from construction waste in public buildings and installations and to sensitise the relevant people to the topic of recycled building materials.
The office of environmental protection is revising the national disposal strategy. The aim of this strategy is to ensure a nationwide secure disposal for the next decades.
The basis for waste legislation in Liechtenstein is the recently passed Act on Environmental Protection (29 May 2008) – comparable to the Swiss Federal Act on Protection of the Environment - which regulates, among other issues, ’waste’ and ’contaminated sites’. This law is the legal basis for all ordinances and regulations. It contains the following fundamental principles:
- precautionary principle: All environmental damage is to be limited at an early stage,
- polluter-pays-principle: Polluters with detrimental effects have to bear the costs for measures for the protection of the environment,
- principle of holistic approach: Environmental problems must be understood and tackled integrally and coherently,
- cooperation principle: Authorities and the economy collaborate as far as possible to achieve the goals of environmental protection.