Bern, Switzerland hires ex biker gang to scare trash sinners straight

I met a Swiss behavioral economist who had partnered with his city to see how “nudges” could prevent people from sneaking out in the night and illicitly leaving bags of trash at neighborhood recycling stations. Many Swiss cities tax trash per bag to incentivize waste reduction, with the side-effect that shirking takes the form of discreet dumping. Treatments for the side-effect take many forms. The most wild, according to this economist, was an initiative from Bern in which the city hired the Euro equivalent of Hell’s Angels to hide in the bushes and pop out to catch people in the act. It sounded too wild to be true, and the hiding was maybe an exaggeration, but I got pointed to a few articles from Swiss tabloids that support the story, this one from 20 Minuten and the one below from Blick, translated by Jillian.

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The Green Rockers of Bern

Their reputation precedes them. The Broncos security forces don’t just look mean; they also have a reputation in Bern for taking drastic measures — qualities that are now bringing the security group, which is no longer in association with the rock club of the same name, into unexpected territory. According to the Berner Zeitung, the municipality of Köniz has commissioned the Broncos to ensure that people don’t throw extraneous trash into the recycling bins meant for aluminum, glass, and tin.
The services of the Broncos in the fight against “trash sinners” cost the community a cool 9000 francs. But the Broncos aren’t just there to look mean. They’re supposed to be doing preventative work — and passing out leaflets.