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The Swiss Foundation for Waste Management SENS was established in 1990 as a non-profit organization (launch of operations: 1.1.1991). Its initial field of activities was the recycling of refrigerators and freezers and to supervise treatment partners and monitor recycling processes for all WEEE. Today, SENS is responsible for a wide range of WEEE-products. 

Legal background

In 1998 the Swiss government issued the Ordinance on the Return, the Taking back and the Disposal of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (ORDEE) – ruling:

  • The obligation of an owner to give back an end-of-life appliances
  • The obligation of all retailers to take back any appliances free of charge.

The legislator did not define how the industry has to fulfil its responsibility towards the management and financing of WEEE recycling. This is based upon the simple idea that as long as the industry takes sufficient responsibility by establishing a reasonable recycling system, the authorities can restrict their controls to the results.

WEEE categories covered by SENS

  • Cat. 1. Large household appliances and cooling & freezing appliances 
  • Cat. 2. Small household appliances
  • Cat. 5. Lighting equipment
  • Cat. 6. Electrical and electronic tools
  • Cat. 7. Toys, leisure and sports equipment
  • Cat. 8. Medical devices, parts of the WEEE cat. covered
  • Cat. 9. Monitoring and control instruments, parts of the WEEE cat. covered
  • Cat. 10. Automatic dispensers, parts of the WEEE cat. covered

SENS cooperates in supervision, information and documentation with SWICO (the system which covers cat. 3: IT & telecommunications equipment and cat. 4: consumer equipment).

SENS System

The SENS system has three unique characteristics that make it a success:

  • The system is market-orientated, leaving anybody but private persons free choice between the various treatment partners accredited by SENS. Treatment partners are free to choose their logistic partners. This freedom secures the best possible quality of service.
  • SENS pays the same compensation to all partners doing the same work (recycling, transport or collection).
  • The system is fully integrated in an IT-database, which enables to control and visualize both material and monetary flows efficiently and thus reduces administration costs substantially (SENS-OnlineSystem).

Financing Partners (manufacturers / importers, retail chains)

SENS has 380 contract partners, covering 98% of the market of household appliances; for other
product groups the market share is estimated around 80% as of 1.6.2005. All the main manufacturers
and importers adhere to the system.

Financing system

Producers and importers have to pay an advanced recycling fee (ARF) in ‘CHF per unit’ for every
product placed on the Swiss market. These ARF-Funds are managed by SENS. The income from the
ARF finances the present collection and treatment of WEEE, similar to a pay-as-you-go pension
scheme. Thereby the ARF is a participation of the buyers of new appliances to the current costs.

Collection and Logistics system

SENS services the following collection facilities through their logistics partners:

  • 100 logistic partners are under contract with SENS: they are proposed by the treatment partners and have to be accredited by SENS.
  • 453 official SENS collection points including about 100 municipalities
  •  11'000 retailers, point-of-sales
  • Administrations and municipalities consigning more than 200 kg small appliances (1 pallet) and/or more than 5 large household appliances.
  • WEEE can also be directly delivered to treatment partners.

Treatment partners

SENS has accredited 34 treatment partners (1.1.2007) that were selected on the basis of a rating
system and the fulfilling of the SENS standards. A further 50 dismantling companies are involved in
the SENS system as sub-contractors of the treatment partners.
The contract between SENS and the treatment companies includes detailed technical requirements on
storage, handling and treatment, as well as the reporting of activities and material flows. For
verification of the standards at least one audit is carried out each year by technical experts appointed
by SENS.


2006: 7.1 kg household appliances / cap were collected and treated on behalf of SENS. Together
with SWICO the total amounts to 13.1 kg WEEE / cap for Switzerland.

Further special features

A comprehensive software tool called ‘SENS-OnlineSystem’ has been developed to administrate all
transport orders emitted by the collection facilities via a web interface. Additionally, a call-centre
provides service for consumers, businesses and municipalities without access to the Internet. With the
SENS-OnlineSystem’ all the material streams can be followed and the financial administration carried
out for members (ARF contributors), as well as for all the operative partners along the disposal chain.

Contact persons

Director Dr. Robert Hediger
President Dr. Andreas Röthlisberger

For further information: www.sens.ch