In February 1996, the Technical Ordinance on Waste (TVA) of the Swiss Confederation stipulated a landfill ban for combustible waste. With the creation of the Foundation Auto Recycling Switzerland, the car importers laid the basis for the search and implementation of an environmentally sound and economically viable solution for the processing of ASR (automotive shredder residue / shredder light fraction), since about a quarter of the weight of the vehicles is transformed into ASR during shredding. Shredder residue (SR) consists of plastics, rubber, fibrous materials, textiles, glass and dirt, and includes about 10 percent residual metals as a result of the coarse separation in the shredding process. SR is considered hazardous waste.
After extensive research, ASR can now be thermally disposed by municipal waste incineration plants (MWIP) since 1996. The mixing ratio of SR in the household refuse has been set at 5 percent by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).
This has no effect of the emission behavior; the organic materials are incinerated, and slag is deposited in landfill sites without any risk to the environment. The volume is thus reduced by 70 percent and the mass by 50 percent. The high calorific value of ASR is used as valuable energy for producing electricity and district heating.
Compared with the previously practiced disposal, this step represents a great environmental progress. However, this type of treatment is associated with significantly higher costs. In order to create a balance to the lower landfill costs of foreign shredder facilities, the Foundation pays disposal contributions to the Swiss shredder plants. As proof and as a basis for calculation, they must submit the cancelled logbooks of the shredded vehicles.
In addition to the MWIP solution, the Foundation examined other procedures. But to this day, there is no better technology on the market from an environmental and economic point of view. In addition, technical improvements in the treatment of MWIP residues are coming on stream, representing a further level of development. The thermal waste treatment plant in Hinwil and later the MWIP of Monthey have realized dry slag discharge. Compared to the previously standard wet discharge, this system has a number of advantages such as improved quality and quantity of the separated metals. A large-scale project in Hinwil focusses on the recovery of fine metals with a grain size under 5 mm. Measurements with ASR, which are financially supported by the Foundation, are also planned.
Thanks to the thermal treatment of the complete ASR since the year 2000, Switzerland holds a leading position within Europe. However, the Foundation is open to consider alternative solutions which are ecologically and economically superior to currently practiced methods.