A large proportion of radioactive waste results from the production of electricity in Switzerland's five nuclear power plants, while other sources include the medical sector, industry and research. The disposal of radioactive waste is based on the principle of “user pays”. Operators of nuclear power plants are responsible for the disposal of spent fuel elements and radioactive waste resulting from the operation of their plants, as well as from the later decommissioning and break-up of these facilities.
The financing of the disposal of nuclear waste is regulated in the Swiss Federal Nuclear Energy Act, and the Ordinance on the Decommissioning Fund and the Waste Disposal Fund for Nuclear Installations, which entered into effect on 7 December 2007, regulates the specific details. Two separate funds have been established in Switzerland (a decommissioning fund and a waste disposal fund) into which operators of nuclear facilities pay annual contributions.