Italy European model for wet waste collection

Innovation of materials and synergy between the Biorepack Consortium and local administrations are the basis of Italian success

Excellent results for Italy regarding the collection of the wet fraction of urban waste. For once the Bel Paese is not at the bottom of Europe but has actually overtaken states traditionally considered at the forefront in the sector. An outcome for which the contribution of the compostable bioplastics: last year the separate collection of compostable packaging reached 60.7% of what was released for consumption. A figure that has already exceeded both the objective set for 2025 (50%) and that of 2030 (55%).

This was discussed today at the meeting “Compostable bioplastic packaging and OFMSW collection systems: a virtuous circle”, which was held in Ecoworldan event that has now become a real reference in Europe for the ecological transition and new models of circular and regenerative economy, underway in Rimini until tomorrow.

The event was also an opportunity to take stock of the situation and to underline the most virtuous and effective aspects of the Italian approach to the collection and treatment of OFMSW: an approach which has its fulcrum in the contribution of Biorepackthe national consortium for the recycling of biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging, which has reached its second year of full operation and which today presented the results achieved.

Because the system works

Therefore the collection of the wet fraction of urban waste in Italy works. One of the reasons is that compostable bioplastic packaging has made home collection easier and more convenient, increasing its quality and quantity. The fact that the combination between compostable bioplastics and wet waste is particularly effective is an important aspect if we take into account that the wet fraction currently ‘weighs’ between 30 and 40% of all waste produced in Italian homes and that by managing packaging better, we can also manage the collection systems for other materials better.

“Compostable bioplastics were conceived precisely as an ancillary tool for the collection of the wet fraction of solid urban waste, to consolidate and close the circle of organic recycling. Over time, they have also proven their value for food packaging and agriculture. In this way, in a short time they laid the foundations for the development of an industrial sector which has reached respectable numbers and which deserves to be known and valued at a national and continental level”, explains Luca Bianconi, president of Assobioplastiche.

Another virtuous aspect is the synergy of the Consortium with local administrations. There are over 3,700 participating municipalities (47.8% of the total) with 38 million residents (64% of the national population). In 2022 alone, they were recognized with economic compensation of 9.3 million euros.

“Our consortium has made it possible to close the circle of the Italian compostable bioplastics supply chain, making citizens better aware of their peculiarities and stimulating their correct recycling together with organic waste, recognizing important economic contributions to the Municipalities that have signed an agreement with us, which have thus covered their collection, transport and treatment costs. The results rapidly achieved in terms of participating municipalities and recycled waste clearly demonstrate this”, underlines Marco Versari, president of Biorepack, the latest addition to the Conai system and the first example in the world of a recycling consortium dedicated to the organic treatment of bioplastic and compostable packaging .

“The virtuous synergy between recycling consortia and local authorities is essential to advance the entire country system in terms of separate waste collection. And Biorepack’s contribution is allowing us to make progress, year after year, in the collection of OFMSW”, comments Franco Bonesso, Anci national councilor, also explaining how “thanks to the consortium system, many local authorities, especially small ones, have was able to count on additional economic resources, which made it possible to raise the quality of the collection service, with economic and environmental benefits for entire communities. All this is a heritage to be defended and valorised.”

Milan, L’Aquila and Messina are virtuous examples

Among the most virtuous examples in the sector is Milan which, as Danilo Vismara, AMSA-A2A Group Territorial Marketing Manager, recalls, has achieved “excellent levels of staff collection”. This is also thanks to the use of compostable bioplastics and the development of a door-to-door system for domestic users supported by ad hoc services for markets and commercial users.

The experience of L’Aquila is also important, which focused on communication: a consolidated activity also thanks to the agreement with Biorepack. “Without communication, citizens cannot be reached. And without citizens it is unthinkable to carry out quality separate waste collection”, explains Sonia Fiucci, communications manager of Asm L’Aquila, the company that manages waste collection in the city and in some neighboring municipalities.

Creative solutions, finally, for Messina, where Messinaservizi, the in-house company that manages the integrated waste cycle and the urban decoration of the Municipality, has decided to reuse the compost – produced within the composting plant of Rem Srl of Catania through the correct collection of organic waste and biocompostable plastics – to set up city flowerbeds starting from the Christmas holidays. A tangible example of circular economy.