by Marzia De Giuli
ROME, June 21 (Xinhua) - Italy over the past 20 years has achieved good results in organic waste collection which experts said if further improved may be a growth opportunity for the country's economy and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 7.7 million tons every year.
Figures presented at a conference on waste held in Rome earlier this week showed that many municipalities across Italy have organic waste recycling collection service, which involves some 34 million residents, more than half the Italian population.
The organic fraction of solid urban waste (FORSU) accounts for 40 percent of waste in separate collection, according to a research from SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan. As many as 4.8 million tons of organic waste were treated in 2012 in 252 composting plants and 27 anaerobic digestion plants in Italy, the research found.
The Mediterranean country also counts some 1,300 "super-recycling municipalities," of which several are proud of recycling up to 70 percent of their waste, Stefano Ciafani, Vice President of Italy's main environmental organization Legambiente, which awards so-called best practices every year, told Xinhua.
Experts have estimated that should organic waste collection be carried out in all the Italian municipalities, CO2 emissions in the country would fall between 5.4 million and 7.7 million tons every year.
Since it was started 20 years ago, organic waste collection has constantly spread in Italy allowing the overall recycling of around 42 million tons of organic waste and the production of some 15 million tons of high-quality compost, according to figures presented at the conference.
"Bad situations related to waste management, which unfortunately are still many in Italy, often make the headlines, but the excellencies are also numerous. In fact, the use of waste materials is currently widespread in the industrial system of a country which lacks natural resources," Ciafani noted.
An environmental-friendly management of waste can become a big opportunity for the Italian economy, he stressed. Legambiente's objective, Ciafani said, is further enhancing best practices "also with the support of politics, which has so far been largely insufficient, favoring landfills and incinerators."
Business city Milan was a very positive example of effective collaboration with the local government to achieve what Paola Petrone, Managing Director of AMSA, the company which manages garbage collection in Milan, defined as "a waste collection model for worldwide cities."
Last month separate waste collection in the capital of industrialized northern Lombardy region rose to 50 percent of all household waste from 36.7 percent in 2012, well above the national average of around 40 percent, according to the AMSA figures. The result placed Milan among the best performing cities among those with more than one million residents in the world.
A fundamental contribute was given by door to door organic waste collection, which started in Milan in 2012 and is currently operating in about 75 percent of the city. The last quarter will be included within this month. Impurity in the organic waste on average only accounts for 4.2 percent of the total collection, AMSA data showed.
How was it possible to convince Milan residents of the value of separate waste collection? "Communication was our secret," Petrone stressed. Numerous campaigns have been organized over the past years across the various neighborhoods of Milan, also involving schools and markets, to inform citizens about the meaning and importance of separate waste collection, she explained to Xinhua.
"Residents were asking questions in open meetings where our experts were replying to them, also appraising grassroots initiatives," she said. In particular, she noted, before the organic waste collection was launched in Milan, a survey found that around 50 percent of the population was disagreeing.
"But according to latest statistics, only 10 percent is disagreeing now. To me this is evidence that the more citizens are involved, the more they become enthusiastic" about best practices of organic waste collection which "should be adopted in each city of the world," Petrone underlined.