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Waste Disposal

Italy - Waste Disposal

It is always important to find out about the different types of schemes and methods for refuse collection, immediately upon arrival into a new country. In Italy, the disposal system of waste varies significantly from one region to the other.

Garbage is managed according to the country’s national legislation at a municipal level. The local commune is responsible for the disposal of trash and contracts its collection to a waste disposal company.

Garbage collection

The collection of waste can happen in two ways. The first is curbside or door-to-door collection, where the garbage truck picks up the trash from individual bins. The second is central collection, where people have to place their garbage at a central drop off area.

In the northern part of the country, curbside collection schemes have been established with mandatory separation of waste.

After a garbage-crisis was experienced by Southern Italy, the local municipal authorities are trying to increase facilities for domestic collection as well as recycling services in the region.

Sorting waste

All residents are required to sort their rubbish in three categories. The first one is Non-Recyclable Waste (rifiuti indifferenziati), which ends up in the landfill. The second category is Recyclable Waste (Raccolta differenziati), which is used in the manufacture of new products. The last type is Organic Waste (Rifiuti Organici), which is used in the production of fertilizers.

Municipal authorities encourage people to keep their non-recyclable waste to a minimum as landfill space is a problem. Items that are not recyclable include plastic products (bottles, tubes, bags and cutlery), nappies and sanitary products, cling wrap, polystyrene packages, foil, wrapping paper, wet/ dirty cardboard, cigarette ends, chewing gum and light bulbs.

Recyclable garbage includes most glass products (bottles and jars), paper products (newspapers, books, magazines, catalogues and envelops) and cardboard products (cereal boxes, food packages, toilet paper/ kitchen towel tubes).

Organic waste includes fruit and vegetable parts, egg shells, meat bones, fish bones, feathers, kitchen scraps, leftover/ spoilt food (rice, pasta, bread and baked items), coffee/ tea grounds, paper napkins (not too dirty), seeds, wood, leaves and flowers.

Certain products are regarded as “toxic waste” and should be disposed off separately. These products generally include flat batteries, car batteries, expired medicines, printing consumables, paint containers and vegetable oils.

The sorting of waste may differ from one municipality to the other. It is therefore important to check which category certain items like textiles, clothing accessories and metals fall into. Most garbage contractors have the guidelines for separating waste on their websites.

Disposal method

People under the curbside collection scheme need to have separate bins for each type of waste. It is imperative that all the garbage is properly contained in bags before being placed in a bin. Contractors may not pick up the garbage from a particular bin if the trash is not well secured.

People who have not been given the curbside collection facility by their municipals are required to put all their trash in separate garbage bags, secure the bags tightly and place them in the large bins that are found on all residential streets. Almost all streets have different bins for each type of waste. To reduce environmental risks, the use of these bins is restricted to late evenings and early morning, especially during the summers. Garbage contractors empty these bins on a regular (often weekly) basis.


The disposal system in Italy gets its funding mainly from a yearly disposal/ garbage tax known as TARES (formerly TARSU), which is calculated according to the size of a property. This has not gone down well with several Italians, who believe that the public should be charged according to the amount of waste they generate in order to increase social awareness and responsibility. However, there are no signs of the government making a change in the tax system any time soon.

Expats who buy a new house need to sign a form declaring the taxable area. Many tenants and homeowners get their estate agents to do this before moving in.

Occupants and owners are supposed to pay the disposal bill once a year. Normally, in case of rented properties, the tenant pays this tax, unless it is specified otherwise. Very often, owners of large properties pay their garbage tax to the building administrator with the monthly maintenance (spece condominiali).

The payment for TARES is generally made at the Post Office, either by cash or check. Certain communes allow property owners to make their payments over the website.

Additional details about waste disposal will be available on the commune’s website. A detailed list of all Italian communes can be found on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabetical_list_of_comunes_of_Italy and http://www.politicalresources.net/it-citiesA.htm

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