IC49 - Investigation on the urban waste market: less dumps more separate collection





On the basis of several reports received concerning the criticalities of the urban waste management market, the ICA launched an investigation in August 2014 providing an in-depth analysis of the various difficulties in the sector and a series of practical proposals for overcoming them. In fact, according to the ICA’s opinion, separate waste collection could boost by increasing competition, favouring recycling and waste to energy plants. Moreover, a reform of the packaging collection consortium system - currently based on Conai’s substantial monopoly - is highly recommended.

“Urban waste management – said Giovanni Pitruzzella, president of the Italian Competition Authority – is an important economic, environmental and judicial matter, as highlighted by the intense activity of eco-mafia in this field. Therefore, it is necessary to intensify legality controls especially in the southern regions. A greater and better knowledge of the situation can provide innovative and solving interventions.” As president Pitruzzella emphasized, it is a matter of adjusting Italy to the European directive which provides for a recycling share equal to 50% within 2020, while our Country is around 39% (2013 Eurostat data) against 65% of Germany, 58% of Austria and 55% of Belgium. The investigation found that broadening competition goes hand in hand with achieving environmental aims.

The share of separate collection and recycling, on the basis of what found during the investigation, could be further increased through the “door-to-door” collection: at the moment this seems to be the most expensive solution, but as a whole it realizes a waste management which is more economic (because it produces value) and more ecological (because it promotes the use of recycled products). To reach the aim, it is necessary to correct: the strong heterogeneity identified both in the various phases of the chain and in the various local realities, as to date the collection has been historically organized by Municipalities, with the presence of a large number of small-sized operators; the frequent direct appointment of the service without a call for tenders; exceedingly long appointments (up to 20 years and even more).

Hence, the ICA proposed to review the modalities for the appointment of waste collection, privileging call for tenders where possible, limiting the appointment duration to a maximum of five years and restricting in-house appointments to an efficiency benchmarking. Moreover, it is necessary to redefine the collection areas, with the aim to differentiate and enlarge them for the end market phases (mechanical biological treatment and waste to energy plants), on the basis of a management that discourages conferral to dumps and of a better use of the eco-tax tool so as to make MBT and WtE more convenient. A further proposal concerns the implementation of a centralized regulatory model, appointing competences – for example – to the Authority for Electricity, Gas and Water. In addition, according to the ICA’s indications, it is necessary to reform the consortium system (Conai), whose merit lies in having carried out a fundamental role in launching separate collection, but which should now evolve into a competition model among packaging producers in order to guarantee compliance with the principle according to which “who pollutes pays”.

Rome, 10 February 2016