sorted waste
over an area with 3.1 million
waste recovered
the amount of sorted waste
recuperated, going towards
a circular economy
thousand tons of CO2 avoided
with the plastic recycled
by Aliplast

Disposal of municipal waste in Italy and Europe and comparison with Hera

National and EU regulations define principles and priorities for waste management, from minimizing waste at source to material recovery, energy recovery and, only as last resort, disposal in landfills.

Over the years, the Hera Group has worked in this direction, as shown by the comparison between 2002 data and data of the last three years. In particular, the results were successful in terms of reduction of material being sent to landfills, for which a further reduction was also posted in 2018 (-2.5 percentage points compared to 2017). This is consistent with the Group’s objectives, which, in line with national and European regulations and the plans of the relevant authorities, envisage a reduction in the use of landfills and an increase in separate waste collection. In 2018, the portion of municipal waste disposed of in landfills after pre-treatment was 4.5%, compared with the 2017 Italian average of 26% (Source: Eurostat), therefore below the 2035 goal set by the December 2017 agreement on the revisions to the directives envisaged in the circular economy package. The use of landfills was particularly low in the Emilia-Romagna service area, standing at 2.7% in 2018 compared to the average for Emilia-Romagna of 14% in 2017, (Source: ISPRA). It also decreased in areas served in the Marche region in 2018 (from 34.9% in 2017 to 27.7% in 2018), thanks to the introduction of door-to-door waste collection in 9 municipalities, which decreased the production of non-separate waste and therefore of the municipal waste sent to landfill. At the same time, there has been an increase in the disposal of municipal waste at third-party plants that carry out treatment and recovery. As of 2017, Hera’s Triveneto region continues to have no landfills for the disposal of municipal solid waste.

At European level, the trend towards reducing the use of landfills for municipal waste disposal is also continuing, although there are significant differences among the countries: in the EU-28 the figure for 2017 was 24% (Source: Eurostat). In Italy, 26% of municipal waste disposed of in 2017 was sent to landfills compared to 21% sent for waste-to-energy treatment, the use of landfills decreased by 2 percentage points while use of waste-to-energy treatment increased by 1 percentage point.

Landfills continue to be the primary treatment method in 13 European countries, with peaks of up to 93% in Malta and 80% in Greece. In Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Germany and Finland, landfill is used for around 1% and waste-to-energy ranges from 31% to 53%, with the remainder being sent for recycling. Hera is in line with these countries in terms of recycling with further improvements planned for the coming years.

Municipal waste: A three-speed Europe and Hera’s area of operation is among the most virtuous (2017)
Country Landfill Waste to energy Recycling/Composting
Countries with landfill use lower than the European average
Sweden 0% 53% 47%
Belgium 1% 44% 55%
Danmark 1% 53% 46%
Netherlands 1% 44% 54%
Germany 1% 31% 68%
Finland 1% 59% 40%
Austria 2% 39% 59%
Hera Group
4% 39% 57%
Luxembourg 7% 45% 48%
Slovenia 13% 14% 73%
Great Britain 17% 38% 45%
Estonia 21% 47% 32%
France 22% 36% 43%
European Union (28 countries) 24% 28% 48%
Countries with landfill less than 50% but higher than the European average
Italy 26% 21% 52%
Ireland** 27% 31% 43%
Lithuanua 33% 18% 49%
Polond  42% 24% 34%
Czech Republic 48% 17% 34%
Hungary 49% 16% 35%
Countries with landfill greater than or equal to 50%
Portugal 50% 20% 30%
Latvia 51% 5% 44%
Spain 54% 13% 33%
Slovakia 61% 10% 30%
Bulgaria 62% 3% 35%
Croatia 75% 0% 25%
Romania 80% 5% 15%
Greece 80% 1% 19%
Cyprus 82% 0% 17%
Malta 93% 0% 7%

*2013 data, **2016 data. Source: Eurostat

Source: Eurostat