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Waste collection

The Hera Group is a major player in the field of urban waste management. Hera manages an integrated service in 6 provinces of Emilia-Romagna, for a total of 142 municipalities; in addition, through Marche Multiservizi, it also serves 39 municipalities in the province of Pesaro-Urbino. In total, Hera served 181 municipalities in 2011, for a total population of 2.78 million inhabitants.

CiboAmico brings solidarity to canteens and helps the environment

In 2011, CiboAmico, the initiative launched in 2009 aimed at recovering unused foodstuffs in the Group canteens and distributing them to local associations that assist people in difficulty, was extended to a fifth canteen, that of Ferrara.
In 2011, 9,000 full meals were donated to the 5 non-profit associations involved (Opera di Padre Marella, Papa Giovanni XXIII, Arcobaleno, Il Piccolo Principe and Viale K), which host around 170 people.
The project was launched and is now continuously monitored with the support of Last Minute Market, a University of Bologna spin-off that encourages actions to prevent waste.
3,670 kg of cooked and raw products were recovered in 2011, 35 full meals a day, the equivalent of 3% of the meals prepared each day in the five canteens - an extremely low level of waste.

Hera has developed an organisational model for the separate and non-separate collection of urban waste which is based on the management experience of one of its local founding companies: the study and analysis of best management practices made it possible to base the new organisational model on the consolidated wealth of knowledge and experience we have acquired over the decades.

The Hera integrated waste management system (WMS)

Hera's Waste Management System (WMS) is characterised by three main systems:

  • local collection: for domestic and small non-domestic users, carried out according to methods that fit best with the context served (mainly basic drop-off points with the IEB model also with closure systems, domestic systems);
  • "target user" residential collection: aimed at non-domestic users that produce specific waste similar to urban waste (cardboard in shops, glass or tins in bars, organic waste in canteens or restaurants, etc.);
  • Separated waste collection centres: also known as Equipped Drop-Off Points, these are infrastructures that complete the range of services offered to residents for dropping off all types of separated urban waste, including dangerous waste.

The system is also integrated with the domestic collection of bulky waste (free of charge, by phone call or by appointment), the collection of green waste, and the collection of other types of dangerous waste at specific businesses (e.g. batteries at pharmacies).

Electronic key for bins in San Mauro (Forlė-Cesena)

In November 2011 a national roadside rubbish collection pilot project was launched in San Mauro Pascoli which consisted of the installation of an electronic device on every bin, meaning they can only be used via a personalised electronic key. Involving around 4,100 residents, among other things the project guarantees the traceability and transparency of waste management processes and offers the possibility of introducing a special rate for those who separate their waste most accurately.

As regards local collection, the IEB (Basic Drop-Off Points) model involves the distribution of the various bins at a single collection point where it is possible to drop off the main types of materials: non-separated waste, paper, plastic, glass, tins, organic waste, clippings (several materials can also be dropped off in combined form); the aim is to increase separated waste performance and improve its urban impact. The IEB model reduces the number of bins for non-separated waste, in favour of those for separated waste collection.
With the aim of providing the most effective possible service in accordance with the features of the community, the collection services are differentiated according to standardised area types (historic centres, residential areas, tourist areas, extra-urban areas, industrial zones). For each local community a collection system is chosen that fits best with the urban (population density, configuration of roads, availability of space..), environmental (noise limits, street furniture..) and territorial features of the area (tourist presence, historic centre...) in a bid to maximise the percentage of separate waste and its quality through a service that is technically and economically sustainable.

The methods of local rubbish collection envisaged in the Hera Group Waste Management System are the following:

  • roadside collection, i.e. carried out using bins that are permanently located on public land (Basic Drop-Off Point model);
  • roadside collection, with special disposal control mechanisms (lids): the bins are distributed across the local area according to the Basic Drop-Off Point model with a bin closure mechanism for the collection of non-separated waste and disposal only permitted to residents with a special electronic card;
  • door to door: domestic collection system for all main waste supply chains using bags/bins.

Local waste collection in the various municipalities usually takes one of these forms, even if it is more correct to talk about the prevalent form, given that in most cases there are different types of collection methods in the same community.

Main forms of waste collection used in the community
number municipalities served 20102011
Roadside collection121115
Roadside collection with lid1520
Door to door67

Data do not include Marche Multiservizi.

In the 142 municipalities served by Hera in 2011, 115 municipalities, around 85% of the population, were mainly served via roadside collection. With regard to waste collection with electronic control mechanisms (lids), the 15 municipalities served in 2010 became 20 in 2011, extending across the entire province of Rimini. This meant a rise from 3% to 12% of the overall population served by Hera. 7 municipalities (72,000 inhabitants - around 3% of the population served) were served door-to-door in 2011.
In 32 municipalities (with a population of 125,000 inhabitants) served mainly by roadside collection, there are door-to-door collection areas, and in another 18 municipalities domestic collection is carried out for certain fractions. Therefore, all in all, 57 municipalities are served door-to-door.
It should also be noted that 95% of the area (figure refers to population) is served by targeted collection, that is, domestic collections for specific non-residential users.

Main forms of waste collection used in the community
% separate waste collection20102011
Roadside collection47.5%49.0%
Roadside collection with lid65.2%66.8%
Door to door68.9%73.4%

Data do not include Marche Multiservizi.

In terms of the separate waste collection results achieved with the various systems, an average of 49% was recorded with roadside collection; roadside collection with controlled disposal produced, in 2010, a score of 66.8% while the door to door system produced an average result of 73.4% in the 7 municipalities in which it was launched. Please note that the figure relating to roadside collection with "lid" as reported in the table relates to the 15 municipalities in which the system was already present in 2010. In the five other municipalities in which the system became prevalent in June 2011, an increase of over 7 percentage points (from 50% to 57%) was recorded: it must be highlighted, however, that these were five coastal municipalities with strong seasonal tourism, including the administrative capital, and that in the most touristy areas rather than the lid-system there will be a combination of roadside collection and door to door collection, already present today, with the latter system introduced increasingly frequently.

Rimini number one in Emilia-Romagna for waste paper collection

Rimini is the number one province in Emilia-Romagna for the collection of paper and cardboard, and Emilia-Romagna is the leading region in Italy. Comieco, with its 16th Report on the collection, recycling and recovery of paper and cardboard, highlights that, compared with a national paper and cardboard collection rate of 52.2 kg/inhabitant, and the region of Emilia-Romagna which now tops the rankings with 87.7 kg/inhabitant per year, the province of Rimini, with over 131 kg/inhabitant, is the leading province in Emilia-Romagna in terms of waste collected per capita.

Collection of urban waste

In 2011 there was a reduction in the amount of urban waste directly managed by Hera (-3.0%) compared with the previous year. In per capita terms, this reduction is even more evident (-3.8%) when you consider that the population grew by 0.8%. This reduction is due to the unfavourable economic climate, both for families and business activities, but also to partial de-assimilation phenomena and greater environmental awareness: as regards this issue Hera has promoted or encouraged actions and campaigns aimed at preventing waste production, top of the list of waste management priorities requested by European Directives.
Excluding the waste deriving from the cleaning of shorelines, the reduction recorded in 2011 was 3.1%, which is also reflected by the fall in per capita production (-3.4% compared with 2010).
It is important to highlight that the quantity of separate waste increased in 2011 (+3.2%), whilst there was a decrease in that of non-separated waste (-7.6%): the combined effect of the two trends made it possible to go beyond the separate waste target for 2011 of 50% to record a figure of 50.5%.

Urban waste collection by Territorial Operating Structure
thousands of t200920102011
Bologna TOS359.2365.0349.3
Ferrara TOS90.593.187.0
Forlė-Cesena TOS274.4290.9279.0
Imola-Faenza TOS137.8142.0141.4
Modena TOS306.2315.2307.2
Ravenna TOS237.1244.2234.3
Rimini TOS257.0271.1259.4
Marche Multiservizi133.3144.1151.0
Kg per inhabitant*657667642

*Excluding waste from shorelines.

The area served by Hera is characterised by higher assimilation and thereby has the highest annual per capita urban waste production rates in Italy: 642 kg was collected per person in 2011 compared with the Italian average of 532 kg in 2009 (source 2011 Ispra Urban Waste Report).

Urban waste collected by destination

In light of the fall in urban waste as detailed above, the percentage of waste-to-energy plant waste in 2011 was in line with the 2010 figure, whilst there was a reduction in the amount of waste disposed of in landfills (-1.9 percentage points). These trends are consistent with national and international objectives. The increase in separate waste collection has generated an increase in waste treated at selection and recovery plants. As regards the humid fraction, this increase was managed by the Hera Group thanks to the entry into full effect of the Romagna Compost digester and the further improvement in the efficiency of existing plants (+3.2 points overall).
In 2011, the portion of urban waste disposed of in landfills following pre-treatment came to 23.1% (including Marche Multiservizi, which disposed 59.1% of urban waste in landfills) compared with an Italian average of 48% in 2009 (2011 Ispra Urban Waste Report). If Marche Multiservizi is excluded, the portion declines to 19.8%.
The percentage of waste disposed of in landfills without pre-treatment came to 16.2%; excluding Marche Multiservizi this figure falls to 13.9%.

Disposal of urban waste in Europe

National and EU regulations define principles and priorities for waste management, from minimising waste at source to material recovery, energy recovery and, only as last resort, disposal in landfills.
However, landfills are still the main way of treating waste in Italy (source: Eurostat): 51% of disposed urban waste in 2010 was transferred to landfills compared to 15% sent for waste-to-energy treatment. In 2011, Hera's customer base used landfills to dispose of 23% of urban waste collected.
At European level the tendency to reduce the use of landfills for disposing of urban waste continues: in the EU-16 the figure dropped to 31% in 2010 while in the EU-27 it was 38% in 2010 (Eurostat data).
In Europe, the countries which use waste-to-energy treatment the most are Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden with percentages around 50%. In these countries, the percentage of waste destined for recovery is close to 50%, proof of the possible coexistence of waste-to-energy treatment and substantial separated waste collection. In Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands, the percentage of waste destined for waste-to-energy treatment is between 32% and 41%.
In Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, the use of landfills is almost nil, with percentages of under 2%.

Waste prevention initiatives

European Directive 2008/98/EC on waste, acknowledged in Italian legislation with Legislative Decree no. 205/2010, defines the following hierarchy in terms of the prevention and management of waste:

  • prevention;
  • preparation for reuse;
  • recycling;
  • other types of recovery, such as energy recovery;
  • disposal.

Hera, while operating as waste management manager, and therefore in full respect of the prerogatives of those responsible for waste planning, has developed and participated in numerous initiatives aimed at encouraging waste prevention: in 2011 it was involved in around 20 active waste reduction initiatives, three of which launched during the year.

"Still of Use" project awarded 2011 "Oscar for Health"

"Still of Use" was awarded the 2011 "Oscar for Health" by the Rete Italiana Cittā Sane association, promoted by the World Health Organisation. The goal of the project, launched in Ferrara in 2010, is to collect and re-use medicines donated by the general public, clinics and hospitals, which have not yet expired, by giving them to non-profit associations that work in developing countries. In 2010 around 6,500 boxes of medicines were collected, and this rose to over 9,000 in 2011. Hera contributed to the project by collaborating with the Municipality of Ferrara, Farmacie Comunali di Ferrara, University of Ferrara, Farmacia senza Frontiere, the Local Health Authority, the Province of Ferrara and Last Minute Market S.r.l..

The initiatives launched in 2011 include:

  • "Trashware Cesena", operational since early 2011 thanks to a partnership between the Municipality of Cesena, the Polo Scientifico-Didattico of Cesena and student association Sprite, and the economic and operational support of Hera. The project consists of recovering PCs destined for disposal because they are old or don't work, making them functional again, and then donating them to schools, associations, or members of the public that cannot buy new equipment. Up until September 2011, 138 PCs had been collected, fixed and donated to schools and associations.
  • Life "Lowaste", coordinated by the Municipality of Ferrara, on waste prevention and reuse initiatives for the development of at least four waste management cycles that make it possible to reuse the materials and reintroduce them to the market, acting on both the supply and demand side;
  • "Second Life", the new reuse area launched in September 2011 together with the Municipality of Bologna, in the immediate vicinity of a new Hera Separate Waste Collection Centre.

Among these initiatives, Hera2O (promotion of tap water at Hera sites) and CiboAmico (donation of unused food in Hera canteens to associations within the local areas) stand out because they are targeted at employees and contribute towards reducing plastic packaging, in the former case, and organic waste in the second case. Both projects have been closely pursued together with numerous municipalities (with the Acqua del Sindaco campaign for example) and major local businesses (Last Minute Market, associations such as Padre Marella in Bologna and Giovanni XXIII in Rimini).
Also worthy of mention are:

  • "Domestic composting", free supply of small containers for the domestic composting of organic waste. By the end of 2011, 26,350 composters had been distributed for an estimated 6,000 metric tons of organic waste treated in this way in 2011; some ATOs, or individual municipalities, offer discounts on rates or taxes to citizens that use the domestic composter;
  • Toner and mobile phone Eco-boxes, containers for sending used toner cartridges and mobile phones for recycling, mainly distributed in schools. Since the start of 2009 the Eco-boxes for phones have been offered to around 1,730 schools with over 510 schools participating and around 2,000 phones collected by the end of 2011;
  • Still of Use, the project launched in 2010 in Ferrara to collect and donate unexpired medicines to non-profit organisations.

Finally, there are also initiatives aimed at families, children and schools, such as Campi d'Arte in Bologna, Rifiuto con affetto in Ravenna, and Tric e trac in Modena.

"Reuse" and art at the new drop-off point in Bologna

Since September 2011 Bologna has had its third drop-off point, this one close to a large superstore. The same area is also home to "Second Life", the first public space dedicated to the reuse of objects where citizens can freely exchange any item in a decent state: from plates and lights to books, toys, small domestic appliances and knick-knacks. Outside the area is an art installation by the two young winners of a competition held by the Municipality of Bologna: the work, E-chokhor, takes its name from a Tibetan prayer wheel and evokes a kind of prayer for sustainable living.