The seventh annual Swiss Green Economy Symposium (SGES) was held on September 3, 2019 in Winterthur, Switzerland with over 800 participants from across industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations (NGO). The morning session of the one-day event featured speakers from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Coca-Cola, UBS, World Vision Australia, the UN World Food Programme, and Royal DSM. Coca-Cola’s representative spoke about the high collection rate of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in Switzerland, as well as the implementation of 100% recycled PET in Valser branded water. The development towards “zero packaging” was also discussed, but implementation of the concept was described as still largely unclear.
In the afternoon, the symposium offered 13 parallel innovation forums each focused on in-depth discussion of a specific topic. In the forum focused on the sustainable use of plastics, presentations from consultancy Ernst Basler and Partner, FOEN, NGO Aqua-Viva, and industry association Swiss Plastics provided different stakeholder perspectives on the challenges surrounding relevant topics such as plastic pollution in soil, chemical pollutants in plastics, and the economics of plastics use. Marco Buletti from the FOEN stressed the need for more research especially into terrestrial plastic pollution and on the importance of using the precautionary principle. Regarding the upcoming EU single-use plastics regulations that ban a large set of single-use articles (FPF reported), Buletti said that the FOEN is currently completing an impact assessment to determine the effect these and similar regulations would have on Switzerland. The topic of chemical recycling also surfaced during the discussions, and Dominique Werner from industry association Science Industries commented that currently the technology is not economically competitive in comparison to the manufacture of virgin plastics, and this is posing a considerable challenge to its expansion.
SGES (September 2019). “7. Swiss Green Economy Symposium.”
SGES (September 2019). “Innovationsforum: Kunststoffe nachhaltig einsetzen: Probleme und Lösungen.”