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Local case study

The projects in 2017

Biomethane from waste

From organic waste to biomethane that can directly reach homes after being fed into distribution networks. The project consists in producing methane from renewable sources, specifically by anaerobically biodegrading the organic fraction of separated waste, to be done at the Sant’Agata Bolognese composting plant.

Hera has already been producing biogas for years, using biodigesters and landfills, to produce electricity; the next big step is to refine it to make biomethane like the gas that flows in household pipes. And this system is an initial embodiment that will use the organic fraction of the separated municipal waste as raw material to obtain biomethane and will also become fuel for methane-powered vehicles for local public transport.

The process begins with a semi-dry, continuous flow anaerobic biodigester where the organic waste is anaerobicically digested, producing biogas and the digestate. The digestate is then sent to the subsequent composting step that comprises oxidation and final screening, to obtain high quality compost. The biogas is sent to an upgrading section to remove undesired components and obtain methane gas that it meets the specifications to make it suitable for being fed into the network. This process is the foundation of a perfect circular economy in which food waste makes natural gas that can be used to cook more food or possibly be used for heating and for vehicles.

The biodigester will be able to process 100,000 tonnes per year of organic waste and 35,000 tonnes of green waste from separated waste collection, and starting in 2018 it will produce about 7.5 million m3 per year of biomethane and about 20,000 tonnes of compost. The total investment is expected to be just under Euro 30 million.

The construction phase of the plant started in March 2017 and is progressing rapidly. The plant is therefore expected to start up and feed the first biomethane into the grid by the end of 2018.

The project was included among best practices in the SDG Industry Matrix report published by the Global Compact and KPMG in 2017, which reports the business opportunities linked to the Sustainability Development Golas of the UN Agenda.


Separate waste collection in the Bologna city centre reaches 60%

The project for the city centre, consisting in the construction of underground mini drop-off points for glass and organic waste, and simultaneously starting door-to-door non-separate waste collection district by district, began at the end of 2014 with the former San Vitale neighbourhood, continued with the activation in June 2015 of the former Porto neighbourhood, and in May 2017 with the former Saragozza neighbourhood. The businesses were also supervised to assess needs on the target services.

The project was delayed initially by the demanding requirements set by the Archaeological Superintendence, due to the need for continuous stratigraphic surveys and the relevant restrictions related to underground utilities, and subsequently for the inclusion of the project (3rd portion mini drop-off points and 3rd portion upgrade of large underground drop-off points) in a regional financing operation and therefore, before starting all the related activities, it had to wait for the completion of the authorization process.

Of the 140 mini drop-off points initially planned, a total of 109 were built below ground and 14 above. The lower number compared to the plan is due to the presence of underground utilities found after starting the work, which prevented the tanks from being installed. 23 underground drop-off points were activated in March 2018 in the fourth and last district of the old town: Santo Stefano.

In the second half of 2017, the three large underground drop-off points already existing, were also reopened after revamping.

The entire municipality reached 47.6% in 2017 compared to 45.9% in the previous year while the entire old-town changed from 46.2% of 2016 to 50.0% in 2017. In the three neighbourhoods of the old-town with a collection system in place, separate waste collection is on average 60%. Checks on the quality of the organic and glass waste continue to be encouraging, with percentages of compliant materials around 90%.



Hera for the “circularity” and sustainability of FICO Eataly World, the world’s largest agri-food park

At the end of 2017, Fabbrica Italiana Contadina, the world’s largest agri-food park that is focused on the Italian sector, was inaugurated in Bologna. It is a place not only for food lovers interested in discovering secrets and traditions, but also a space dedicated to food and environmental education, to talk about food waste and how to avoid it, about the need for sustainable use of resources in a circular economy, a new paradigm of economic development in which raw materials and natural resources “live” longer, through recycling and reuse.

Hera signed a protocol of understanding with Eataly World, CAAB and the FICO Foundation which, supported by the leading role of the Ministry of the Environment, promotes collaboration to implement circular economy actions, such as the recovery of surplus food and the reduction of waste, encouraging its reuse. In particular, Hera is committed to:

  • promote waste reduction initiatives;
  • improve the selection of dry waste in order to encourage its recycling;
  • reduce environmental impact by using local infrastructure;
  • recover organic waste by producing biomethane;
  • cooperate in initiatives to reduce food waste and promote re-use;
  • promote information/educational activities on sustainable development at FICO.

In the FICO space, district heating, waste management, electricity, water and ICT are services totally managed by Hera, which is therefore its only partner in the energy and waste sector.

In May, one year after signing the memorandum of understanding, the first report will be issued on sustainability data relating to waste management and prevention, electricity and heat consumed and water consumption.

Renovation of the viale Berti Pichat area in Bologna

In May 2017, work was completed on the newmanagement building at the Hera SpA headquarters, which allowed staff to be transferred from the SACEP office building and other buildings in the same area (for approximately 360 people) and the canteen and bars to be used.

Following the completion of the building and the relocations, it was possible to demolish the old structures used previously, leading to the environmental remediation and functional redevelopment of the entire sector according to the indications of the variant to the urban renewal agreement for the area signed on 3 May 2016 and the new operational renovation project authorized by the Municipality of Bologna with deed dated 13 April 2016.

The operational reclamation project is enabling the environmental remediation of the area consistently with timing set out in the planning agreement, simultaneously ensuring the accessibility and the usability of the entire sector. In particular, in 2017, the worksites for reclamation of the site’s groundwater were completed and, in addition, reclamation measures were completed in most of the areas north of the sector, by excavating and removing the historical landfill and contaminated soil, as well as, where envisaged, by ISCO treatment of soil and groundwater.  For each phase of reclamation, ARPAE verified compliance with the reclamation objectives set by the project with reference to the work carried out and, as a result of these checks, it was possible to start the urban planning works for the construction of green areas, new roads and new internal parking lots.

In early 2018, reclamation work began on the areas currently designated as car parks, which will be largely upgraded to green areas for use by Company personnel. The completion of these last areas, expected for the end of 2018, will represent the completion of the requalification of the entire area of Viale Berti Pichat (about 70,000 m2 of total surface area).

Monitoring of air and water compartments for the site, over the entire area continued, with the frequency agreed with the regulators. At the same time, in addition to the analyses currently performed by companies at the job-sites, the Quality, Safety and Environment Department continued monitoring, focusing on the impacts that the job-sites could have on the health of workers at the corporate office.

The environmental remediation of the site will continue, by functional phases until completion, expected by 2018, of all the other activities on the entire sector, and the cost will be borne fully by Hera even if it is not the party responsible for polluting the area.

In 2017, 4 meetings were held with Health and Safety Representatives (RLS) to report and agree both the progress, the scheduling of the work, and the monitoring results.

Hera has always worked in full and complete respect of the law, for the protection of workers and residents, and under the control of the supervisory bodies.

In December 2017, the renovation works on the 1st and 2nd floors of the building located at the corner of Viale Berti Pichat and Via Ranzani were completed, which Herambiente personnel to be transferred from the headquarters in Via Trattati Comunitari (Bologna). The building’s redevelopment has included upgrading its systems with renovation of its façades to accommodate Herambiente’s commercial and reception structures. The works on the ground floor, the external renovation work and the construction of a new dedicated reception area will be integrated in the completion of all the external upgrade of the area, which will be completed by December 2018.

Remaining on the subject of our office buildings and other properties of the Group, in 2017 we continued a major plan to replace and decontaminate asbestos roofs of buildings located in all the areas we served. At the end of 2017, approximately 20 thousand m2 of asbestos roofs were removed, equal to 70% of the total amount (100% of those on office buildings). The renovation measures are expected to end in 2018.


Page uploaded 1 June 2018


Page updated 24 July 2017

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