Waste and regional gaps: what is the outlook for Italy? | CDP

Waste and regional gaps: what is the outlook for Italy?

What are the most critical issues in urban waste management in Italy? What facilities are needed at a regional level to achieve the European targets for 2035? To what extent does the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) respond to the needs expressed by the regions and what are the further development options for the sector?

The paper illustrates how efficient waste management is crucial for the full development of the circular economy and highlights the country's service divide due mainly to the lack of waste treatment plants in Central-Southern Italy.

Read the report’s key messages and download the document for further information.

  • Efficient waste management, enabling the recovery of the value of goods and products at end-of-life through re-use, remanufacturing and recycling, is crucial for the full development of the circular economy, also in terms of accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economic system.
  • Significant regional differences in municipal waste treatment capacity persist in Italy, partly due to an uneven distribution of plants in terms of numbers, authorised capacity and decisions on technology.
  • This results in high landfill use (19% of municipal waste), particularly in Central-Southern Italy and in substantial levels of waste exported to non-neighbouring regions, with expenditure repercussions for service end users.
  • The funds and reforms put in place by the NRRP are a significant opportunity to bridge regional gaps, but they are not sufficient to meet the regional needs expressed and overcome the critical issues.
  • Overall, it is estimated that to meet European targets, municipal waste treatment plant capacity will need to amount to 5.2 million tonnes by 2035, of which:
    • 2.4 million tonnes for the treatment of organic waste, concentrated particularly in Campania, Lazio and Sicily;
    • 2.8 million tonnes for energy recovery, concentrated mainly in Sicily, Veneto and Lazio.  
  • Achieving national and regional self-sufficiency would make it possible to:
    • reduce the extra costs associated with exporting waste out of the region, 90% of which is borne by central and southern regions;
    • strengthen the production of energy from waste energy recovery, with a potential annual increase of electricity produced to meet the needs of 390,000 households and a reduction of CO2 produced of 500,000 tonnes per year.
  • For efficient waste management, it is necessary to:
    • encourage the inflow of additional resources for projects of proven feasibility that were not included in the allocation of NRRP funds due to the ceiling being exhausted;
    • promote digital solutions, linked to waste traceability, for the development of the secondary raw materials market;
    • implement awareness-raising policies to promote a favourable environment for investment development.   
Read the brief (Available in Italian)