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Episode 2 of "Differences between Switzerland and Germany"

Published: 15 November 2020

At first glance, the two neighbouring countries Germany and Switzerland seem to have a lot in common. Or do they not? 5 big and small differences I will show you in this part of this video series. Of course, these are by no means all differences, there are more differences in the previous part and future parts of this series.

In the following you will find the content of the video also in text form. Of course the video is more entertaining and full of pictures. Do you know any other differences between Germany and Switzerland? Write it to me on YouTube in the comments. If you liked the video, I would be happy about a Like and a subscription.

Electricity mix

There are major differences in the origin of electricity from the socket in the two countries. In the figures, I have focused specifically on the net electricity mix, i.e. the electricity consumed. As this is the more honest statistic for me. This means that imports and exports of electricity have also been taken into account, and not just pure electricity production.

Thanks to the Alps, Switzerland is very well supplied with water and is therefore also considered Europe's moated castle. This is probably also the reason why more than two thirds of Swiss electricity comes from hydroelectric power. Wind, gas and coal play a minor role. There are no coal-fired power stations in Switzerland; this electricity only finds its way into Switzerland via imports. The second largest energy supplier is still nuclear energy. However, this share has halved at least in the last 10 years.

In Germany, the electricity mix is much more diverse, but still consists largely of fossil fuels. Coal mining had a long tradition in Germany, especially in the Ruhr area. Coal mining in the Ruhr area is now history. Nevertheless, coal is still an important supplier of energy in Germany. The proportion of fossil fuels in Germany is constantly decreasing in favour of renewable energies. Solar and wind energy are strongly promoted and gain more and more shares every year. In contrast, little has happened with hydropower. In the case of nuclear energy, the development in Germany is similar to that in Switzerland. Here too, the share has halved in the last 10 years.

Socket outlets

Anyone who connects an electrical appliance to the power supply will quickly notice this obvious difference. In Switzerland, type C and type J sockets are used. In Germany, on the other hand, sockets of type C and F are used. The mains voltage and frequency used are identical. The two-pole Euro plug is known in both countries, is often found on low-power appliances and also fits into all the sockets used in Switzerland and Germany. It is more difficult with the three-pole plugs. The Schuko plug used in Germany is one of the most frequently used plugs in the world. Schuko is an acronym for protective contact. Its shape alone does not fit into the recessed sockets in Switzerland. Furthermore, the contact pins are too thick for Swiss sockets. In Switzerland and Liechtenstein the plug with three contact pins of type J is common. In this form, the plug does not fit into any German socket outlet. In contrast to the Schuko plug, the Swiss plug is protected against polarity reversal, thus preventing incorrect polarity and minimising possible damage. For the plugs of type J and F an adapter is absolutely necessary for the other country.

Waste separation

One thing first. Waste is separated in both countries. However, the focus and the procedure are very different and each country has its own characteristics. In Switzerland, waste is separated very selectively, and in Germany, much goes beyond the green dot.

The dot with the two arrows is applied to packaging for which an advance recycling fee has already been paid. These packagings go into the yellow sack or the yellow bin. However, this does not mean that the packaging is also recycled. Current figures show: Around half of the packaging from the yellow bag ends up in waste incineration to generate heat and electricity. This system is now also known under a different name in other European countries. In Switzerland, the green dot is meaningless. Packaging is normally disposed of with household waste. The fee does not accrue when the product is purchased, but only when it is disposed of. There are regional differences. You either pay the fee when you buy the refuse sack or the corresponding tokens.

Exhausted exercise books, yesterday's newspaper, the empty shoebox. In Germany, paper and cardboard belong in the blue bin or the waste paper container. In Switzerland there is an even greater distinction. Paper and cardboard are separated. In some regions and larger buildings there are separate containers for both. Where this is not the case, bundling is carried out diligently and accurately. Simply tying up a bundle wildly and unlovingly is not possible in Switzerland. After all, the bundle will be lying in front of the door later on and what else will the neighbours think? But seriously, on collection days it would really look cruel otherwise. So I can understand that very well.

Deposit system

While we are on the subject. In Germany, a pronounced deposit system helped to keep the streets cleaner. Switzerland proves that it is not necessary to create an incentive system to recycle bottles and cans.

In Germany, deposits are levied on returnable glass, disposable glass, pet bottles and cans. The amount of the deposit varies greatly. Wine bottles cost 2-3 cents, reusable bottles 8-15 cents, beer bottles with swing tops in some places up to 60 cents, disposable bottles and cans 25 cents. But there are also exceptions. Cardboard drinks packaging is always deposit-free. There are also some beverages that do not have to belong to a deposit system, regardless of their packaging. These include, for example, wine, spirits, fruit juices and dairy products as well as bottles with a capacity of more than 3 litres. A close look at the bottle is therefore always necessary. All in all quite confusing. Despite the financial incentive, by no means all returnable bottles are returned. Mostly out of financial need, deposit hunters have made a business out of it and collect left and discarded deposit bottles and bring them back to the shops, sometimes on a large scale.

In Switzerland it is exactly the opposite. In this area, Switzerland chose the path of the advance disposal fee, similar to Germany's Green Dot. Returnable bottles are rather the exception. Normally, cans, PET and most glass bottles are without deposit. Only some returnable glass bottles are subject to a deposit or deposit of 30 to 50 centimes. The exact value is printed on the bottle label. As long as the recycling quotas that Switzerland imposes on itself are achieved, this will remain the case. Beverage packaging made of glass, PET and aluminium must prove a recycling rate of at least 75% in each case. If this is not achieved, the Swiss Department of the Environment can prescribe a deposit. So far, however, this does not seem to be a problem. In 2018, 94% of glass bottles, 82% of pet bottles and 94% of aluminium cans were recycled.

Other differences in brand names

In the first part of this series we have already talked about the difference between Wick and Vicks. In this part I have two more name differences for you.

The logo, the colours, at first sight everything is the same. Only the name is different. In Germany it is called Deichmann, in Switzerland Dosenbach. But actually it is the same shoe shop. But not before. In 1973 Dosenbach was taken over by the German company Deichmann from Essen. But the name was kept because of the great acceptance by the population and this until today.

Nestea is originally a cooperation between Coca-Cola and Nestlé. In 2017 Coco Cola decided to end the cooperation with Nestlé. A new name was needed. Since 2018 this drink is known under the new name Fuze Tea with "z". In Switzerland, however, the drinks are marketed under the brand name Fuse Tea with "s" to avoid unwanted sexual associations. One letter makes a big difference. In Swiss German, Futz is a vulgar term for the female sexual organ. After this faux pas had attracted attention, a renaming was launched. The name change for Switzerland was worth 1 million francs for Coca Cola.

Do you know any other differences between Germany and Switzerland? Write it down in the comments on YouTube. If you liked the video, you can support me with a like and subscription.

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