EuroEconomica, Vol 31, No 5 (2012)

Local Environmental User Charges in Switzerland: Implementation and Performance

Bernard Dafflon, Sandra Daguet


This paper deals with the management of three environmental policies at the local level: clean water distribution, sewage and wastewater treatment and household solid waste collection and treatment. The argument is that applying the benefit principle for financing these services will enhance allocative efficiency and contribute to induce environmental friendly attitude. The original contribution of the paper is to mix political economy, law and accounting in a coherent process – which also corresponds to the Directives 2000/60 and 2008/98 of the European Parliament in the fields of water policy and solid waste. The Swiss example given in the second part of the paper serves as a good case study for issues that arise as other countries evaluate user charges. The tested hypothesis for Fribourg canton is that the cost coverage ratio (CCR) of the three functions is an accurate measure of performance in the management of the three environmental functions. CCR is assessed with raw data and treated data. The data cover the 168 communes of the Canton Fribourg for the 1996-2009 period. The results show a convergence to CCR=1, but also some accounting practices that deviate from theory.


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