How Italy is turning Waste into Resources

"Waste End" report highlights new opportunities of economic growth based on re-use, recycle and smart collecting

How Italy is turning Waste into Resources

Claudia Astarita


"Italy should do something about its waste management system" this is the main argument of Kinexia and Symbola Foundations in their report "Waste End". It was presented at Milan Expo 2015 on the 13th March as a new frontier for the development of the country.

At the moment - Kinexia declared - Italy has a waste management system that neglects materials, territory and energy. This situation stands as a handicap for the whole economy, since it penalizes the job market (in terms of companies and individuals involved in the process) and it does not call for effective innovations. Conversely, the idea below "Waste End" is to consider wastes as resources, and Italy seems to embrace this view with enthusiasm. In fact, the Bel Paese is a champion in recycling having recovered 24,1 billion tonnes wastes, achieving the best European performance.

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Exploring the report, we see that Waste End presents some specific goals. Firstly, reduction of wastes focusing on new social behaviours and usage modes. Secondly, re-use by means of exchange circuits and evaluation of used products before they become trashes, for instance through repairs and re-design. The third step is smart collecting, identifying the best practices in waste collection, such as "door-to-door pick up" and "reverse collection".

Furthermore, the Waste End model calls for an empowerment of the current recycle plants and their optimization as well as the creation of new supply chains focused on plastics, textiles, mattresses, furniture and nappies. For some kinds of materials - such as cellulose - supply chains specialized in energetic conversion might be needed.

Ultimately, both promoters (Kinexia and Symbola) stress that two tools are necessary to facilitate the start of an effective waste management system in Italy. On the one hand, the producers need to be more responsible when dealing with their wastes. On the other hand, consumers need to be encouraged in re-using what they have avoiding the first and quickest way of acting, i.e. throwing things away.

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