Recycling of paper and cardboard is one of the best operations which can provide a good description of the Swiss vision, culture and methodology. Being mainly a physical activity (we will see…), paper recycling is like a national sport in Switzerland.
Used paper and cardboard are regularly collected every couple of months outside of every house, according to a detailed plan distributed at the beginning of every year to all the residents (normally also available in all the parish halls – Gemeindehäuser). Normally on Saturdays troops of young dudes, schoolboys, patrol all the possible streets, roads, alleys on small trucks to pick-up all the paper and cardboard to be recycled.
It is like a party, like a nice Saturday’s recreational activity for young guys. In a lot of locations, the joyful event is advertised days in advance with a big board on the main street announcing the upcoming “Papiersammlung”!
Quite easy – you would think. “Quite”: yes. Or, better, “quiet”: yes. But “easy”: not really! Especially for the people who have to dismantle their paper and cardboard, religiously stacked for weeks in garages, cellars or some dedicated rooms, waiting for the ultimate collection.
Surprisingly not easy then! The paper shall be parked outside of every building in a precise way, as specified in the mentioned yearly recycling plan. Whatever is paper or cardboard shall be folded and packed with a string (used as a nice ribbon) like a typical “gift” package and deposited on the street. These paper-packages shall not be too heavy, to help the collection work of very young boys (again as recommended by the written procedure). The small boys cannot lift heavy packages, of course!
If I really wanted to be the perfect citizen and throw all the paper/cardboard stuff in the prescribed way, I would really have serious issues with things you would never imagine could create problems, especially problems to be thrown away! Have you ever tried to fold with a string various toilet or kitchen paper rolls, small advertisement cards – you wish you have never received – of all possible sizes and shapes, folded instructions impossible to open and made straight and flat?? All these terrible used “objects” always find a way to sneak out of your precious “piled paper gift”. And the more they find a way out, the more your nerves could become suitable strings to close your packages.
But, wait a minute! Paper into paper? This is the solution, yes! Just putting the raw paper inside a paper bag and that’s it? Nooo! Impossible, forbidden! Why? Absolutely no clue.
Too many times I was waiting for the “Papiersammlung” day as the hell coming onto Earth. Acrobatic actions to fit all the used paper and cardboard and keep them with a string, generally the night before the “Paper”-day (You cannot keep in mind all the collection dates, and you do not want the “poster” of the recycling plan on your wall as if it were a naif masterpiece)!
But one day I found the solution to avoid the dramatic operation of paper recycling…I will tell you soon about that.