Every year our garbage goes on a long and useless journey

Every year our garbage goes on a long and useless journey

An average of hundreds of trucks roam Italian roads and motorways every day, according to a study conducted by Utilitalia, an association representing companies in the water, environment and energy sectors. 25 tons of garbage, At the end of the year, these trucks cover an incredible 68 million kilometres. To give an idea, this distance is equivalent to approximately 48 thousand car trips from Milan to Palermo, 10,500 flights from Milan to New York, and 3,522 routes between Italy and the Chatham Islands, the farthest point from Italy. However, we should point out that here we are not talking about the next vacation, but about the journey that is made every year in Italy to properly dispose of waste.

Waste tourism: an environmental and social problem

It is clear that if every sector dealt with circular waste management, these situations would not have arisen. And it will also be beneficial for the climate More than 40 thousand tons of CO2 emissions will be avoided Due to the smoke emitted from trucks dedicated to waste transportation. According to Riff research estimates, in fact, about 244 trucks move around every day, and 187 of these always originate from two regions: Lazio and Campania (hereafter Liguria, Puglia and Tuscany). Thus, over the course of a year, trucks become about 90 thousand.

This waste transportation could have been avoided if only politics had not hindered the construction of dedicated disposal plants directly in the areas where the waste is generated. But widespread hypocrisy allows us to close our eyes and send the waste elsewhere, to other regions or abroad. Everywhere, as long as they are not disposed of “at home” to avoid pollution.

Therefore, garbage spreads in abundance compared to goods and people., Organic waste, glass, plastic, packaging and unsorted waste are transported in large quantities.

Waste: Italian “tourism” from north to south

In 2022, in Italy, 3.1 million tonnes of waste treated in areas other than production, A fact that, along with representing an environmental problem, is also an economic anomaly. In fact, most of this waste comes from southern and central Italy and ends up in the north, where disposal plants are concentrated. This increases transportation and disposal costs, the burden of which falls on citizens across all sectors. For example, Lombardy, a self-sufficient region for waste management, picked up 39 thousand tonnes of unsorted waste in 2022 alone, mostly coming from Trentino, Lazio and Liguria.

This phenomenon is due to several factors, including Lack of adequate disposal facilities in the south And this Greater concentration of population in the North, To solve this problem it is necessary to promote the construction of new disposal plants in the South and encourage recycling and waste reduction.

The long journey of wet products: disparities between Italian regions

Organic waste collected in central and southern Italy mainly ends up in trucks heading north. According to the latest ISPRA report for 2022, the largest amounts of organic waste come from Campania (490 thousand tons, 24.7%) and Lazio (285 thousand tons, 14.3%).

Most of these ingredients almost always end up in Veneto, Lombardy I Friuli Venezia Giulia, Tuscany exports 10% of its organic waste to the northeast, followed by Puglia, which totals 150 tonnes. Sicily sends 91 thousand tons outside the region, while Abruzzo sends 45 thousand tons. Small Basilicata, which has no biological treatment plants, exports 44 thousand tons that ends up in four regions: Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto.

What is this movement of garbage a result of? Lack of infrastructure, as shown in the ISPRA report, which was observed in some areas of central-southern Italy, This disparity is clearly evident: more than half of the composting plants (174 out of 293), 29 of the 42 integrated treatment plants and 18 of the 21 anaerobic digestion plants are located in the north of the country.

Italian garbage: an expensive export

During 2021, A total of 402,000 tonnes of waste also found its destination outside national borders., At the top of the list of regions that carry out these shipments we find the general presence of Campania, with about 251,000 tons, followed by the general Lazio with 71,000 tons. However, it is interesting to note that Friuli-Venezia Giulia also contributed significantly with more than 34,000 tonnes, followed by Emilia Romagna with about 22,000 tonnes, Veneto with 14,000 tonnes and Calabria with 7,000 tonnes. At the end of the list, with only 2,000 tonnes, we find Lombardy.

Campania has opted to send its waste to various international destinations, which includes Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. In the case of Lazio, the destinations chosen were Portugal and Cyprus, while paper and cardboard were sent to Austria. Surprisingly, a huge amount of waste, 11,000 tons, was sent to landfill in Hungary. Meanwhile, Sicily has decided to send its waste directly to Denmark for disposal, an operation that will inevitably involve high costs. Currently, disposing of a tonne of waste at one’s own plants costs 250 euros per tonne, but sending it to Roskilde, Denmark, will incur a surcharge of 130 euros per tonne.

Costs and Challenges of Waste Disposal in Italy

The problem of waste disposal in Italy is complex and expensive. Italian regions struggle monthly to find resources for waste management, which cost millions of euros. For example, in Lazio, about 3 million euros are spent per month, which amounts to about 36 million euros per year. The burden of these costs falls on citizens, who face disorganized waste management and a lack of facilities for ineffective waste sorting.

Even in many cities such as Rome and Florence, large amounts of waste are transported north, incurring significant costs for transportation and disposal. This also creates the problem of pollution due to the involvement of many trucks. Campania tries to reduce costs, but the situation remains challenging. Meanwhile, Sicily has opted to send waste directly to Denmark, at a cost higher than the Italian average.

In general, Waste disposal in Italy remains an environmentally costly and problematic challenge,

Environmental impact and objectives of the European Union

Waste management is a growing problem in Italy. In 2021, 480 thousand tons of municipal waste were disposed of in landfills without any treatment, equivalent to 19% of the national total, which represents an increase of 113 thousand tons compared to the previous year., The figure goes against the trend of EU rules, which state that 10% or less of waste in member countries must end up in landfills by 2025. Italy is divided into two parts when it comes to the distribution of waste in landfills, with 41% ending up in the center and 36.7% in the south. Sicily’s record is negative, with 51.5% of urban waste being disposed of in landfills. Produced. These data reflect a strategy that favors the North at the expense of other regions, as outlined by ISPRA, leading to growing environmental concerns.

European objectives for 2035 on circular economy

Italy faces a significant challenge to achieve the objectives set in the European Circular Economy Package by 2035 It is necessary to build at least 30 plants for the treatment of organic waste and energy recovery of non-recyclable fractions, with a total capacity of 5.9 million tonnes. Without decisive acceleration, it will be impossible to reach the EU targets, which envisage an effective recycling rate of 65% and landfill use of less than 10% for the entire volume of waste collected.





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