Solid Waste Management

Solid waste management, or preferably Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM), is a comprehensive waste prevention, recycling, composting, and disposal program. An effective ISWM system considers how to prevent, recycle, and manage solid waste in ways that most effectively protect human health and the environment.

Currently, China is the world’s largest municipal solid waste generator, and expectations are for its waste output to continue rising. To tackle the growing waste management crisis, China will need to develop additional hundreds of landfills and waste-to-energy plants in the next years.

European municipalities (or waste companies), together with EC-Link Project, really can make a difference when it comes to guiding Chinese municipalities and local companies to segregate their waste and recyclable materials in order to minimise their costs.   

Position Papers
Solid Waste Management
Position Paper
Solid Waste Management
EC-Link Implementation Guidelines
Case Studies
Jiangxi Province
Manure is Being Turned into Money
Tønder, Denmark
Northern Europe´s Largest Biogas Plant
Denmark Without Waste
Focusing on Resources in Danish Waste Management
The European Recycling Company
Waste Collection Using Smart City Management Tools
Waste Incentive Schemes
Closure of Halle-Lochau Landfill
Solid Waste Management
Solid Waste Management
Solid Waste Management
Solid Waste Management
Tool: Closure of Sanitary Landfills Management
Solid Waste Management
Tool: 3R Model
Solid Waste Management
Tool: Integrated Waste Plans
Solid Waste Management
Tool: Waste Incinerators


Latvian Cities Will Soon Have Textile Sorting Containers

Starting this Autumn, 20 textile recycling bins will be placed in Riga, Mārupe, Babīte and Tukums, provided by the waste management company Eco Baltia Movement. Everything collected in these bins will be transported to the Movement’s facilities near the city of Tukums. The company will also be collecting data on what materials citizens are discarding and how frequently they do it.

According to the CEO of Eco Baltia Movement, the plan for these containers is to expand the service in the coming years. They want to have 1000 containers available in the whole of Latvia by 2025, so that all citizens have the opportunity to sort their textiles.


Germany Planning To Introduce Plastic Bag Ban

Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze of the SPD (the German Social Democratic Party) has stated she plans to introduce a ban on the use of plastic bags in the near future. The goal according to her is to "get out of the throwaway society and that overall, we use less plastic.". According to data provided by the German environment ministry, the use of plastic bags has declined by 64% since 2015, following an agreement reached between the federal government and businesses which introduced a mandatory price on plastic bags. Schulze, however, wants to go even further, as plastic bags represent barely 1% of plastic consumption. She is setting her sights on the packaging of foodstuffs as well.


Larnaca Installs Underground Bins Along Its Beach Areas

Work on installing underground bins began on Tuesday in the Phinkoudes, Mitsopoulos and Makenzy coastal areas of Larnaca. The municipality informed that the work, which will take several weeks to complete, was being done within the framework of its solid waste-reduction programme. A total of 64 bins will be placed at 16 different places. The municipality confirmed that the work was being carried out in a way so as to cause minimum inconvenience to visitors, taking into account the safety of the passing vehicles in the area.

“With the installation of the bins the problem of the visual pollution of the existing green bins will be radically solved as well as the problem of odours especially during the summer months. It will also increase the amount of recyclable materials collected from coastal recreation centres and hotels through the sorting of solid waste at source,” said Andreas Vyras, Mayor of Larnaca.


Atrani Municipality Becomes “Plastic Free”

The Italian Municipality of Atrani has announced that it is saying goodbye to the use of disposable plastic starting from 18th August 2019. The decision was taken by the municipal administration led by the mayor Luciano de Rosa Laderchi. Thus, the Municipality of Atrani adopts in advance European Union legislation that aims to reduce the production of disposable plastic objects starting 2021. The Municipality of Atrani thus joins Cetara, Ravello, Minori and Agerola in the fight against plastic and the pollution that results from its use.

Starting from 18 August the usage of disposable plastic food and beverage containers by public operators during commercial or craft activities, as well as by tourist organizations (tour operators, travel agencies, etc.) which provide their customers with single-use endowments for the consumption of meals and drinks, will be forbidden throughout the municipal area of the coastal village of Atrani.


EC-Link Project Performed A Training Session On Solid Waste Management In Luoyang

EC-Link Project was called by Luoyang Municipality to perform a dedicated training on solid waste management. The meeting is to introduce the development of Solid Waste Management in Luoyang, to identify the fields for further cooperation between EC-LINK and Luoyang in Soil Waste Management sector.

Luoyang has developed a very efficient program meant to replace and recycle of any building materials coming from the demolition, to produce several building components as energy saving bricks and plasters, road screeds, artistic tiles and draining road pavements.

EC-Link project performed the training providing latest European experience in the management and reuse of construction waste; moreover, it was agreed to develop further cooperation in following areas:

  • Support to promote the introduction of new policies for Solid Waste Management related to building material (new rules addressing developers);
  • Researches to develop applications of high-grade recycled products and Solid Waste sorting technologies (e.g. infrared technologies for the recognition of materials and related separation);
  • PPP projects development, in cooperation with financial institutions.

EC-Link Project will also support the already existing willingness of Luoyang in establishing a network of stakeholders aimed to increase the recycling of building materials coming from demolitions and the productions of primary row recycled products/energy saving construction materials/finishing materials (e.g. tiles and roof tiles), to promote their market and to support the creation of a proper regulatory framework to raise recycling strategy at municipal level (through more tight obligation imposed to developers).

EC-Link project and Luoyang Municipality, starting from this training session, expressed the willingness to start a meaningful cooperation to support the implementation of the various initiatives above all in terms of waste management and financial support through the involvement of international financial institutions.

Companies Profiting From Introduction Of Waste Separation Regulations

For a long time, most Chinese people have been accustomed to throwing away rubbish into bins at their will. This means that it may take some time for the process of "rubbish sorting" to fully embed itself into Chinese society, but some companies are already benefiting from such industry. 

On June 28, Jason Wang, the trade marketing manager of the UK-based household products seller Joseph Joseph, proudly introduced one of the brand's star products, a sortable rubbish bin, to a group of reporters at a supply-demand matchmaking meeting for exhibitors and buyers at the second China International Import Expo. 

The bin, which has special odor removing features, carries the high price of roughly 3000 yuan ($436). Despite the cost, price does not seem to be an issue for Chinese customers as the rubbish sorting trend sweeps across China. "We have sold out of this garbage sorting bin during this year's June 18 online shopping spree," Wang told reporters at the matchmaking meeting. Currently, the company is still replenishing stock for the bin.

Source: Global Times -

Shanghai Uses Gags, Memes To Make Sense Of New Recycling Rules

What’s new in Shanghai? Residents of China’s wealthy eastern megacity have embarked on an all-consuming learning spree to identify garbage types, as new recycling rules take effect. 

On Sunday, local officials held city-wide events to educate residents about four types of household waste, a day before regulations on garbage sorting went into force on July 1. 

At the central business district of Jingan, performers struck forceful beats on tall garbage cans in a synchronized drum performance. Other districts like Yangpu adapted the lyrics of a hit song into garbage sorting lore. 

“Hey there food waste, all your herbal dregs, eggshell, fruit peels, and leftovers, can become awesome compost!” a group of modern dancers performed to these lyrics.

Source: Inkstone -

This Chinese Megacity Is Building A Giant Waste-To-Energy Plant

The architects of what is set to be the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant describe their creation as simple, clean and iconic. It’s a mammoth structure which sits on the outskirts of the city of Shenzhen in southern China and once operational will process up to 5,000 tonnes of waste each day.

With a population of 20 million people, the city produces a lot of waste: about 15,000 tonnes daily according to SHL Architects, which will be used by the plant to generate electricity.

Part of the attraction of waste-to-energy technology is that it’s a dual-purpose solution – it rids urban areas of their growing waste problem, while generating electricity as a byproduct.

But the Shenzhen plant and has met with opposition from local residents and environmental groups who fear it will emit dangerous levels of dioxins and other toxins.

Source: World Economic Forum -

EC-Link Project And EU Experts From Sweden Cooperating With Zhuhai In Improving Their WTE Plant.

EC-Link Project, together with EU experts coming from Sweden are supporting Zhuhai municipality in improving local waste to energy plant in light of the planned second phase development.

EC-Link and Swedish experts from Sweco, during an initial site visit, were introduced in detail to the plant and the newly introduced technology. The site visit was very useful to have in depth discussion about on-going processing, management and maintenance systems.

Swedish experts presented their extensive experience on solid waste separation and collection in Sweden, policy strategy, techniques and best practices; moreover, from Chinese side, China Environmental Design & Research Institute introduced Chinese national policy and implementation strategies in solid waste sector.

The technical discussion focused on following main aspects:

  • How to treat the fly ash;
  • What are the main methods which have been used in European countries;
  • The standard of emission of EU in recent years;
  • Suggestions of new technology to prevent high temperature corrosion problems. 

After intensive technical discussion between Chinese and European experts, both sides have a good understanding of the work to be performed; it was agreed that EU experts will present a technical report providing comments and suggestions to improve introduced plans to be finalized by September 2019.

China Is Refusing To Take 'Foreign Garbage' From The US, So These 6 Cities Are Burning Or Throwing Away Your Recycling

Prior to 2018, most of the country's recycled waste was shipped to China, where it was converted into new uses like shoes, gadgets, and plastic products. That all changed on January 1, 2018, when China officially banned the import of "foreign garbage," a category that includes 24 types of recyclable and solid waste. 

Though China previously sorted through waste to separate out recyclable materials, officials determined that there was too much trash mixed in to make it worth their while. Now Malaysia, which became a prime dumping ground for the world's plastic in the wake of China's ban, faces a similar issue.

Source: Stamford Advocate -

FCC To Develop Energy-From-Waste Facility In Scotland

The modern waste management compound sponsored by FCC, whose construction will involve the investment of 350 million pounds (around 400 million euro), is designed to respond to this deficit, whilst maintaining the current employment at Greengairs.

Central to the plan will be the construction of an energy-from-waste facility (EfW), the Drumgray Energy Recovery Centre (DERC), that will receive pre-treated residual, non-recyclable, non-hazardous waste otherwise destined for landfill. FCC will use EfW technology to thermally treat the waste to generate electricity and heat. The Drumgray ERC will accept up to 300,000 tonnes of residual household and business waste per year, enough to export circa 25.5 megawatts of electricity and the potential to supply heat to local homes and businesses.

Source: Waste 360 -

From No Recycling To Zero Waste: How Ljubljana Rethought Its Rubbish

It began in 2002 with separate collection of paper, glass and packaging in roadside container stands. Four years later, the city began collecting biodegradable waste door to door; separate collection of biowaste is set to become mandatory across Europe in 2023, but Ljubljana was nearly two decades ahead of the curve. In 2013, every doorstep in the city received bins for packaging and paper waste. And, most controversially, scheduled collections of the residual waste were cut by half – forcing people to separate their rubbish more efficiently.

The results have been impressive. In 2008, the city recycled only 29.3% of its waste and was lagging behind the rest of Europe. Today that figure is 68%, and its landfill receives almost 80% less rubbish, putting it at the top of the recycling leaderboard of EU capitals.

Source: The Guardian -

Business Not As Usual In Recycling

Paper or plastic? Neither. China doesn’t want our trash. It banned importing of “yang laji,” foreign trash, in January 2018. For years, China was an easy and willing recipient for things the West didn’t want. China’s ban should be applauded as a positive step toward environmental and public health. Processing “yang laji’ created additional pollution on top of what the country is already grappling with. But the ban left the western world, including Seattle, scrambling to find a reliable solution for its recyclables.

A major processor of exported recyclables for decades, China took in about half of the world’s waste paper and used plastic. As the world’s most populous country becomes more prosperous, it is generating enough of its own “laji,” or trash, to support a vibrant domestic recycling industry. China also posts stricter contamination standards for what it now accepts in recyclables—a standard too high for most countries to meet.

Source: Asian Weekly -

EU Cities Join Forces For More Sustainable Tourism

Up to 26 cities, including Copenhagen in Denmark, Lanzarote in Spain and Krakow in Poland, have signed a charter of commitments that reflects the intention of local and regional authorities to reduce waste generation and transition towards a circular economy.

Tourism is the third largest economic sector in the EU and is closely interlinked with other important areas like culture, food and even sports.

But tourism, as well as other leisure activities, is associated with a significant environmental impact resulting from infrastructure, transport and waste generation, as well as water and energy consumption.

“Tourism has an important socio-economic impact but also negative consequences due to unsustainable consumption,” project manager Michelle Perello explained during the final conference of the Urban Waste project for waste management in tourist cities, last week in Brussels.

Source: Euractiv -

China Reiterates Total Ban and Tries To Define ‘Solid Waste’

Chinese officials doubled down on plans to ban virtually all recovered material imports by the end of the year, despite opposition from U.S. interests.

Even as the country issued recovered fibre import permits last week, Chinese environment ministry officials made clear the government’s plan to end almost all “solid waste” imports by the end of this year. The plan was first released last summer.

China’s policies – and similar actions by other Asian nations – have caused global shifts in the markets for many recovered materials. In the electronics recycling business, one major impact has been a drastic reduction in downstream options for e-plastics.

Source: E-Scrap News -

Waste Management in The EU: Info Graphic With Facts And Figures

Although municipal waste only accounts for less than a tenth of the more than 2.5 billion tonnes of waste generated in the EU every year, it is very visible and complex in nature.

 During April's plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs voted in favour of plans to update current waste management rules, including new targets for recycling, packaging and landfilling. The goal of these new rules is to promote the shift towards a more sustainable model known as the circular economy.

From 2005 to 2016 the average amount of municipal waste as measured per capita declined by 7% in the EU. However, trends can vary by country. For example, while municipal waste per capita increased in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Malta and the Czech Republic, it decreased in Bulgaria, Spain, Hungary, Romania and the Netherlands.

In absolute terms municipal waste per person was the highest in Denmark, Malta, Cyprus and Germany, while the lowest in Romania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Source: European Parliament -

Europe Free from Single Use Plastic In 2 Years

The ban on single use plastics takes us one step closer to a sustainable Europe, the Party of European Socialists said today.

We welcome today’s vote in the European Parliament, which saw MEPs overwhelmingly back a ban on throw-away plastics, such as straws, food containers and cotton bud sticks.

PES Common Candidate FransTimmermans, in his capacity as Vice-President of the European Commission, has led the EU’s efforts to move towards a circular economy and to reduce plastic pollution in our seas and oceans. He was instrumental in creating the EU Plastics Strategy, the first of its kind in Europe, to protect the environment from pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation, turning a challenge into a positive for our continent.

Source: Modern Diplomacy -

Tackling E-Waste Challenges in Latin America

He issue of e-waste continues to represent a threat to both the global environment and human health, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. E-waste is the quickest-growing waste stream in the world.

Currently, the world produces approximately 50 million tonnes of e-waste a year. This equals the total weight of all the commercial airliners ever made. This figure is predicted to rise to 120m tonnes by 2050.

From 17–22 March, political and technical representatives from 13 countries across Latin America and e-waste experts from around the world will meet in San Jose, Costa Rica, to discuss how to tackle the e-waste landscape in the region.

Source: Modern Diplomacy -

2019 Brings New Changes for Municipal Glass Recycling

Municipal waste services across the U.S. are considering whether to eliminate or revamp curb side collection of glass for recycling.

The start of 2019 has brought important changes to municipal waste services across the country as they determine whether to eliminate or revamp curbside collection of glass for recycling.

In Mt. Lebanon, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh, the decision has been made to phase out the glass collection service. “The solid waste and recycling is collected contractually in our community, and the contractors that submitted bids for the new contract indicated that they would no longer accept glass in the recycling stream,” says Rudy Sukal, Public Works director.

Source: Waste 360 -

How Delhi’s Waste-To-Energy Plants Are Way Off The Mark

The waste-to-energy (WTE) plant in Delhi's Okhla has been worrying residents of SukhdevVihar for a while now. Its efforts to expand from 16 megawatt (MW) to 40 MW and add two more boilers to its existing three have made them take to roads several times.

Despite Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) norms saying that boilers, in case of explosion, will hazardously impact everything within 260-metre radius and a manual by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development saying such plants should be located no nearer than 300 meters from residences and industries, SukhdevVihar DDA Flats and Haji Colony are located 45 metres away from the plant. Also falling within the explosion impact zone are JamiaMilliaIslamiauniversity’s residence for women and the residences for staff and students of Central Road Research Institute and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology.

Source: Down To Earth -

Tackling Waste: Cities Alliance Donates to Small Sanitation Firms in Liberia

The Cities Alliance Liberia Country Programme with funding from the European Union (EU) has delivered starter kits to three Community Based Enterprises sanitation firms and the National Association of Community Based Enterprises (NACOBE).

These CBEs are operating in the primary waste “hot spot areas” of Red Light market light Market, West point community and Clara town.

The donation intends to help support primary waste collection and to address some of the logistical challenges the CBEs face during the rainy season.

Source: Front Page Africa -

Electronic Devices Outnumber Humans and Trigger A Surge in E-Waste

The widespread innovations in modern digital technology have a devastating downside to it: the accumulation of over 50 million tonnes of electronics waste (e-waste) globally every year.

And that’s greater in weight than all of the world’s commercial airliners ever made, or enough Eiffel Towers to fill the borough of Manhattan in New York City, warns a new report released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, January 24.

Currently only 20 per cent of e-waste—including desktop computers, cell phones, laptops, television sets, printers and a wide variety of household electrical appliances—is formally recycled.

If nothing changes, the United Nations University (UNU), one of the authors of the report, predicts e-waste could nearly triple to nearly 120 million tonnes by 2050.

Source: Eco-Business -

First EU Standard Regional Landfill to Be Constructed in Georgia

A new regional landfill will be constructed within the next 15 months in the vicinity of Kutaisi, On of Georgia's main cities, in full compliance with the European standards. The project aims to reduce the negative effects of waste pollution and develop the waste management field in Georgia.

The agreement for launching the given initiative was signed by the Solid Waste Management Company of Georgia Ltd (SWMCG), supervised by the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure of Georgia (MRDI) and French-Slovenian consortium Sade-Riko, on January 24.

The construction process will commence in March and after completion will serve approximately 700,000 residents of the regions of Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti.  

Source: Georgia Today -

Awash In Trash

The world is drowning in garbage. According to a recent World Bank study titled “What a Waste 2.0”, under current trends the world will generate 3.4 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste per year by 2050, up from 2.01 billion tonnes in 2016.

The solid waste has various sources. Food and other biodegradable waste comprises 44 % of the total. Close behind are dry recyclables such as plastic, paper, cardboard, metal and glass, with a combined 38 %. The rest spans a range of materials including wood, rubber and leather.

Plastic waste is a particular challenge – and far too much ends up in the oceans. “In 2016, the world generated 242 million tonnes of plastic waste – 12 % of all municipal solid waste,” the report says. “Unlike organic waste, plastic can take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose in nature.” This waste leads to considerable health and environmental damage, the report says: “Plastic waste is causing floods by clogging drains, causing respiratory issues when burned, shortening animal lifespans when consumed, and contaminating water bodies when dumped into canals and oceans.”

Source: Development and Cooperation -

Submit Status Report On Solid Waste Management

The National Green Tribunal has slammed authorities for failing to act on reducing solid waste and asked chief secretaries of all states and Union territories to appear before it from March 1 with status reports of their actions and immediate future plans.

It asked the chief secretaries to review their solid waste management actions within a month. The tribunal directed them to remain present with their reports on different dates, starting from March 1 at 2pm when Jammu & Kashmir chief secretary has been asked to appear. 

It noted that India generates over 1,500,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per day, with Mumbai being the world's fifth most waste generating city.

Source: Business Standard -

Solid Waste Management Market to Generate Revenues of $340 Million by 2024

Solid waste management industry, over the last few years, has been witnessing a tremendous growth in terms of remuneration, owing to the fact that the developed and developing nations across the globe are increasingly framing stringent regulatory norms and guidelines to tackle the burgeoning environmental challenges pertaining to solid waste. Furthermore, various regulators and government agencies have been making concerted efforts to assist the leading and upcoming solid waste management market players, to ensure appropriate collection, segregation, transportation, storage, disposal, and recycling of rapidly increasing waste volumes across the world.

Source: Market Watch -

The Toxic Business of ‘Recycling’ China’s Car Batteries Leads to Illegal Dumping, Pollution and Poisoned Water

Authorities in eastern China are turning to the courts to raise the millions of Yuan needed to rehabilitate water and land polluted by dumping from an illegal lead-acid battery recycling plant.

State-run Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday that the city of Huaian in Jiangsu province would use “public interest litigation” to pay to remove the acid and heavy metals found to around the plant and a nearby river.

Source: South China Morning Post -

Power Generation Started at the Shankou Domestic Waste Incineration Power Generation Project in Guilin City - Realizing the Treatment of Domestic Wastes in a Manner of “Garbage Great Reduction, Utilization and Harmlessness”

On the morning of December 20th, the Guilin City’s Shankou Domestic Waste Incineration Power Generation Project was officially ignited after three years of construction. The project will not only undertake the task of harmless treatment of domestic garbage in the city, but also produce green energy for daily life use of the citizens, which marks the realization of treatment of domestic garbage in the manner of “garbage great reduction, utilization and harmlessness” in the city.

Shankou Project is located in Shankou Village, Lingui Town, Lingui District. It covers an area of about 147 mu and is invested and operated by Shenzhen Energy Environmental Protection Co., Ltd., with a chartered period of 30 years. The first phase of the project will design and build 2 sets of mechanical grate furnaces with a daily processing capacity of 750 tons. The furnaces are working with the medium-temperature medium-pressure waste heat boiler system, one 35MW (MW) steam turbine generator set, flue/gas purification system, slag collection and storage system, and fly ash collection and stabilization system, sewage treatment system, circulating cooling system, and other equipment. It uses the process of “waste full-burning + fly ash stabilization + residual landfill”, and uses the waste heat from waste incineration to generate electricity. The project has been implemented since December 2015. After more than three years of hard work, it has built a modern domestic waste incineration and power generation plant that is superior to the national standard and even the EU environmental protection technology standards.

According to the relevant person in charge of the project, after the project is put into production, it can annually treat 547,500 tons of domestic garbage, generate 210 million kWh which can be used by the project itself, or sold 180 million kWh to the grid. Equivalently, it can annually save 66,000 tons of standard coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 220,000 tons. At the same time, it can also reduce waster weight by about 80%, or in other words, reduce waste volume by more than 90%, effectively alleviating the problem of garbage disposal in the built-up area of the city and saving land resources. With the first phase of the project being put into operation, the second phase of the project is about to start that will expand the scope to achieve solid waste incineration full coverage, and fundamentally solve the problem of urban and rural domestic garbage pollution.


There’s Money in Trash, and Chinese Companies Are Cashing-in

The government said in July that households across the nation will, for the first time, have to pay for garbage disposal by 2020 and, separately, that limits on landfills will be tightened. Other recent initiatives include raising recycling quotas in 46 major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Revised laws and follow-up implementation mean that the solid-waste market is only going to expand. The greatest potential is in sectors like garbage incineration and hazardous waste disposal, along with garbage classification and the expansion of household waste management from urban to rural areas.


China Solid Waste Imports Plummet 56% in H1

China's imports of solid waste fell 56.3 percent in the first half of 2018, the result of tough new restrictions and a crackdown on smuggling. Total waste and scrap imports reached 9.98 million tonnes over the six month period. The government has sought to relinquish its role as the world's biggest recipient of waste as it bids to curb pollution and move up the global supply chain, and banned imports of 24 types of foreign waste, including plastics, at the beginning of this year, and it has also imposed tough quality restrictions on other recyclable materials, including scrap metal.

Read more at:

China to Eliminate Solid Waste Imports by 2020

An announcement from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China asserts the country’s determination to eliminate imports of solid waste by the end of 2020. However, it is not yet clear whether this is a new policy or a reaffirmation of a strategy from last year. Some institutions predicts further changes to Chinese standards and laws in order to affect its recycled raw material needs as the country, not self-sufficient in recycled raw materials, will need to import them for their manufacturing needs.


In Cremona, Ideas to Make The ‘Circular Economy’ Real for Cities

CREMONA, Italy — On Saturday mornings, residents of this tidy city of 72,000 crowd into a former market for fruit and vegetables in order to donate old clothes and housewares or pick up a used toy or book.

Second-hand markets are nothing new, of course. But the one here, inauguralted a year ago and known as the Centro del RI-USO, is part of a much larger and very forward-looking local policy on waste management that seeks to reduce what residents throw away and increase what gets reused and recycled.

Cremona has become a European test ground for new ideas to promote a “circular economy” —  a concept that seeks to reduce waste and extend the useful life of resources. In the last two years alone, Cremona has increased the percentage of waste collected separately — necessary for recycling — from 53 percent to 72 percent.

The city has made recycling easier by implementing door-to-door collection. That’s still quite unusual in Italy — in Rome, residents must take their paper or glass to special bins on the street. In Cremona’s city centre, residents put paper in bins outside their buildings one day and plastics, glass or organic waste on other days. Vehicles of different sizes make the pickups — smaller vehicles are used in the narrow streets of the city centre.

Cremona is also testing the introduction of a tariff on the waste that can’t be recycled. In two neighbourhoods, the city gives residents orange 60-litre trash bags; the more bags residents put out, the higher their trash collection fees. The idea is to send residents a price signal that encourages them to reduce the amount of material they throw away.

“Waste recycling is not only a social matter, but also cultural,” says Mayor Gianluca Galimberti, who has made increasing the amount of waste recycled a key priority since his election in 2014. “The level of waste recycled says a lot about the community, its relationship with things and the surrounding environment. That is the reason that pushed us to work hard on this objective. And we got an historic result for the city, laying firm foundations for further actions toward a circular economy.”

Pan-European effort

Reducing waste is serious business in Cremona. There’s a deputy mayor in charge of promoting a circular economy here, Alessia Manfredini. She works on communicating with residents to foster behavioural changes, such as properly separating recyclables. And she’s led Cremona officials on tours of recycling centres across Northern Italy.

“The comparison with other cities was important for us in order to better define our strategies and actions in the field,” Manfredini says. It also helped the city connect with broader waste-related initiatives and funding streams across Europe, she says.

This local commitment toward dialogue with other cities, as well as universities and research centres, pushed Cremona to lead a larger European project on waste-management strategies. It’s called UrbanWINS,and it’s financed by the European Commission. Launched in July 2016, the project is analyzing current strategies for waste prevention and management in 24 European cities (Bucharest, Turin and some municipalities near Rome are among the pilot cities) with the objective of highlighting the most innovative plans.

The three-year project, also involving global networks such as ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, as well as various European universities, NGOs and the Italian Institute of Statistics, will study the “urban metabolism”. That is, it will look at how materials flow through cities and seek a better understanding of what gets produced, consumed and discarded.

The main objective of the project is to help local governments define more holistic strategic plans that not only deal with waste more efficiently but also prevent waste from being created in the first place. One of the tools expected to be developed is a model that demonstrates material flows in different kinds of urban contexts: big cities, small ones, industrial centres or historical places.

“This tool is innovative in Italy because it is not only based on the analysis on the amount of waste produced but on the consumption of materials,” says Livia Mazzà of Ecosistemi, an environmental consultancy and scientific partner of UrbanWINS. “It will reflect on the sources of production and promote a deeper understanding on reducing and reusing waste.”

Another tool of the project is to foster an active dialogue about waste among local residents and stakeholders. Waste management is not typically a big topic of public-participation schemes in Europe. But in June, Cremona and other cities involved in the project hosted the first of several public debates — or agoras — over how residents perceive waste management and how it can be improved. Online detates are coming as well.

Changing attitudes

Cremona is planning to make the agora a permanent forum for public dialogue on waste management. Keeping the local community engaged will be a challenge, particularly on an issue that many people prefer not to think about. But officials here hope that the public will remain engaged if they can continue developing concrete actions that improve quality of life.

One focus area is in the schools. Since 2014, the city has hosted an annual competition called Piccoli Passi, or “small steps”. It’s aimed at fostering sustainable behaviours among students and administrators. Lesson plans about recycling begin each year in March. In May, an official measurement of recycling at each school begins. The schools are ranked and children at the schools that do best get rewards. Another part of the schools competition focuses on reducing food waste in canteens.

The city is also taking aim at food waste in restaurants. In Italy, it’s unusual for restaurant patrons to bring home any leftovers from their meal — it’s seen as a sign of hunger or poverty. So uneaten food ends up in the trash. Cremona is working on changing that attitude through a campaign called Tenga il resto, or “keep the rest”. The city has distributed 100,000 recyclable containers to two dozen restaurants, in hopes of convincing patrons that bringing leftovers home is the right thing to do for the environment.

Cremona is also looking to strengthen the role of the Centro del RI-USO, which is managed by a community group called Amici di Emmaus. It’s intended not only as a second-hand market but also as an incubator for practices of urban sustainability. For example, there will be trainings for children and families on how to reduce the amount of materials they consume. A group that promotes purchases of foods and goods produced locally or through “fair-trade” supply chains will also host meetings.

Mayor Galimberti says all of these strategies and more will be needed to make the circular economy a reality in Cremona. “What is needed is a multidisciplinary and systemic approach,” he says. “A local community well educated to the use of the things is a community that lives better.”


Hefei Inter City Lab (ICL) – Hefei, 19-21 September, 2017

On September 19-21, EC-Link Project, with the support of MoHURD, EUD and the Hefei Municipality has organized an Inter-City Lab (ICL) focused on water management, solid waste management and clean energy sectors.

The event has seen the participation of 120 delegates representing 8 European cities (Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Hamburg, Liverpool, Mannheim, Valencia and Växjö), 7 Chinese provinces (Anhui, Guangdong, Guangxi, Henan, Hunan, Qinghai and Shandong), 9 Chinese municipalities (Changzhou, Guilin, Hefei, Luoyang, Nanjing, Qingdao, Weihai, Zhuhai and Zhuzhou), representatives from local and provincial academies and research centers, European and Chinese experts.

During the event, among the many speeches, Ma’am Tong Guichan, Director of the Division of International Cooperation of MoHURD, affirmed the crucial importance of sustainable development of Chinese cities and the strong support of MoHURD to EC Link Project; Mr. Wang Daorong, Deputy Director General of Hefei Municipality, stated the great commitment of Hefei City to develop more environmental sustainable projects and the great importance of events like Hefei ICL where Chinese cities have the opportunity to share their experience with multiple European ones; Mr. Andrea Claser, Team Leader of EC-Link Project, stressed the full commitment of the Project to be a key component for Chinese and European cities in order to share mutual experiences and hopefully develop long term cooperation; Mr. Florian Steinberg, Senior Urban Planner – EC-Link, provided important insights and specific examples about ongoing Chinese urban renewal and revitalization.

During the three days gathering, European and Chinese representatives have been sharing experiences and knowledge with the intent to create the so called City Network Units (CNUs); these new established working groups of Chinese and EU cities (CNUs) will work together to adapt selected practices/procedures to the Chinese urban context, so to allow an effective know how transfer.

In upcoming months, European and Chinese cities will work together with the intent to develop joint technical teams meant to be the baseline of long term cooperation programs and technology exchange in multiple areas such as: water governance and integrated river basin, zero landfill policy, renewable energy from bio-waste, urban storm water management, district heating from co-generating power plants, waste water treatment for the removal of harmful pollutants, municipal solid waste management, and many others.

Separate Waste Collection in Bologna's City Centre

During 2016, Hera continued to implement the city centre separate waste collection project, consisting in the construction of mini underground drop-off points for glass and organic waste, and simultaneously starting door-to-door separate waste collection district by district, and other collateral actions such as custom collection for businesses, separately collecting crates (wood and plastic), plastic packaging, paper non-separated waste and to upgrade existing underground drop-off points for disposal of cardboard and non-separated waste.

Source: Hera Group

Household Waste Collection
Policy: Sustainability and Energy