Italian paradox: good recycling, poor waste sorting

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Report by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti: the key is to bet on aggregation processes and equity measures.

Not outstanding in waste sorting, but excellent when it comes to recycling: this is Italy’s profile as sketched by the 2016 Local Finance Report by the Study and Research Centre of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti.

Italy produces four times as much special waste as it produces urban waste (about 131 million tons of special waste were produced in 2014). According to Ispra, Italy holds the second place in the special waste recycling ranking (75% special waste recycling; the EU average is 46%).

The first place goes to Slovenia (80.3%), while the other best performing nations are Belgium (over 73%) and Germany (about 70%).

The report identifies numerous critical issues that still impede an efficient management of this sector: for instance, the distribution of the recycling facilities is irrational, as the plants are insufficient, obsolete or sometimes disproportionately numerous in different areas.

In order to attract the necessary investments to improve the recycling infrastructure it would be essential to implement aggregation processes, equity measures, incentives for the involvement of long-term investors, and synergy with EU resources.

Moreover, Italy in 2014 produced about 30 million tons of solid urban waste, about 500 kg/person. 34% of the waste is still dumped in landfills, while the European average is about 28%. However, according to the report, some of the most recycling-conscious EU countries are close to achieving the zero-landfill target (0.6% dumped waste in Sweden, 1% in Belgium, 1.3% in Denmark, 1.4% in Germany and the Netherlands).

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