The Italian Waste Industry

The total national production of waste in Italy in 2008 was of 179 million tons. The main source of waste production in Italy is represented by the construction sector that produced approximately 70 million tons of waste in 2008 (38.9% of total), followed by the industrial sector with 43 millIion tons (24.1% of total) and  municipal waste with 32.4 million tons (18.1% of total).

According to ISTAT, in 2009 national expenditure for waste management was over 21 billion euros, amounting to 1.4% of GDP. The mere management of municipal solid waste costs Italians approximately 7 billion euros per year whilst the recycling industry’s turnover is approximately 4 billion euros. The waste sector’s turnover is destined to grow especially if the proceeds coming from the production of electricity and heat and the increase in re-use and recycling, as required by current legislation, are taken into consideration.
The situation is slowly but gradually improving, also thanks to a rediscovered environmental awareness on the part of citizens who force local authorities into adopting long-term solutions that do not constitute a risk for the environment or the citizens’ health.

In 2008 the production of municipal solid waste was approximately 32.5 million tons, slightly lower than 2007 (-0.2%). This figure confirms the essential stability in waste production recorded in recent years, which follows a long period of growth. In 2008 the production of waste per capita was approximately 541 kg, with a gradual reduction over the previous 2 years (546 kg/inhabitant/year in 2007 and 550 kg/inhabitant/year in 2006).
In 2008 the North produced 45% of overall municipal solid waste, followed by the South (22%) and the Centre (32%). Again in 2008 the South recorded the lowest level of production per capita with 496 kg/inhabitant/year, followed by the North with 541 kg/inhabitant/year (+9.1% versus South) and the Centre with  619 kg/inhabitant/year (+24.8% versus South).
The cost is inversely proportional to the percentage of separate collection: studies show that when separate collection exceeds 65% the cost is below € 100/inhabitant.

Separate collection
Legislative Decree No. 152/2006 and Law No. 296 dd. December 27th 2006 have set a separate collection target that grows in time, which will gradually increase from 35% within 31/12/2006 to 65% within 31/12/2012 (annual increase of 5%).
In 2008 separate collection in Italy reached 30.6% of total municipal waste production, an increase compared to 27.5% in 2007. Comparison with data from previous years also confirms the existence of an upward trend (in 2004 the percentage of separate collection was  22.7%).
Despite the steady growth of separate collection, national targets are far from being reached and the breakdown of the national figure in geographical areas underlines just how the Country again shows a different ability to meet to European environmental standards.

The waste management sector in Italy is still far from consolidation at an industrial level.

Various factors highlight the gap between Italian and European companies in the industry:
- unsophisticated management structure, both for dimension and territorial and industrial integration (dwarfism of the offer structure);
- lack of suitable facilities, both in terms of number and average size of facilities;
- low productivity of collection and cleaning services, mainly due to the exceptionally small sizes of the businesses;
- low rate of revenues from re-use, recycling, recovery and waste disposal – that represent the activities of greater value within the industry – on the total industry turnover;
- low correlation between tariff rates and revenues and costs and remuneration of invested capital, even considering a reduced "pay as you throw" approach;
- lack of clarity in the “system” industrial policies in terms of strategic targets.

On the other hand, in Italy too there are examples of noteworthy efficiency, especially in the North, which show once again how the country appears divided, the northern regions being able to keep up with the best European examples.

The liberalization of the local public services market is an important development opportunity for the sector and could lead to significant changes, amongst which:
- concentration and selection of operators on the market;
- strengthening of large-size and more skilled operators;
- increase in the size and duration of contracts in favour of greater business visibility and therefore greater transparency;
- development of a national waste management industry.

The evolution underway in the sector is progressively transforming the operators who, from companies  focused on the transport, logistics and disposal of waste, are becoming producers of secondary raw materials, electricity and low temperature heat to be used in industrial processes or for district heating networks.

The spreading of separate collection will in turn fuel a gradual growth in services and activities associated with the recycling of materials and of their re-use.

The environmental benefits of recycling are unquestionable:
- reduction in the consumption of natural resources (production of secondary materials that can substitute those of first generation);
- reduction of the amount of waste destined for disposal.

The recycling of waste also has a strong strategic value as it contributes to the security of the supply of raw materials and, relying on optimizing the use of the resources, it involves the production processes and products in an increasingly large way.


Biancamano SpA        

P.IVA IT01362020081
REA: 1821458

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