Thursday, 19 April 2012

Capannori the first “zero waste” municipality in Italy

An ambitious project in the hearth of Tuscany. 

by Michele Lapini 

Photo by Capannoli 1,

Capannori, a little community of 46.000 inhabitants in Tuscany near Pisa, is the first Italian municipality to adopt the “zero waste” strategy, through rubbish reduction and the growth of separation refuse collection. In recent years this community has proven that increasing waste quantity is not an immutable fact, and so it’s possible to solve the waste problem by working on prevention and education . Since 2005 they have started a separate collection of 37% of their waste, and in 2010 this percentage jumped to 82%. The environment councilor Alessio Ciacci is one of the main actors of this “cultural revolution” in Capannori. He states that "40-50% of the human impact on the natural environment is represented by the cycle of matter (from the nature to the finished product) and this cycle has to be rethought, breaking the linear of pattern production-disposal ("from the cradle to the grave") to regain the circular vision that considers waste as a resource ("from the cradle to the cradle"). Today 65% of our material is literally wasted.”

The success of Capannori is attributed to its rubbish-reduction policies. Its “door-to-door” refuse collection has already reduced non-separated rubbish by 10.000 tons since its implementation. Each family is provided with the necessary equipment for differentiated waste disposal, and 43.000 of its 46.000 inhabitants are involved in the waste recycling process, intended to reach 100% recycling of garbage in the next years.*** Currently the recycling rate in Capannori is at 82%, which compared to the Italian average of 27.5% shows the good performance of this little community.

The re-organization of the waste service and the implementation of new environmental policies are characterized by an open participatory process where citizens, associations and institutions can contribute to define strategies about environmental consciousness and garbage disposal. At the end of March Capannori has started the “Participatory municipality program of waste prevention” in order to adopt the national guidelines that will be operative in 2013.The Capannori model is a national example. The the Italian Minister of Economic Development has recently selected Capannori as model to export to other regions like Calabria, Puglia and Sicilia.

This strategy represents a sustainable solution not only for environmental aspects, but also for the public finances. “In 2007, a total of 15,723 tons of separated refuse were collected in Capannori at a cost of 507.688 Euros. In the Province of Lucca, the average cost for the disposal of non-separated waste is equivalent to 160 euro per ton. If those 15,723 tons had ended up in the non-separated refuse circuit, the cost of disposal in dumps and incinerators for this amount of refuse would have equaled a staggering 2,515,680 Euros'”, Ciacci explains.

The municipality of Capannori has received many prizes concerning sustainability since 2005, such as the “Tuscany Eco-Efficient Prize” and the “Sodalitas Social Award” in 2010. In this little community in the heart of Tuscany we can find a sustainable model that can be replicated in many others area in the world, to reach the ambitious goal of “zero waste”.


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