Emilia-Romagna is the first Region in Italy to introduce circular economy principles within its policies on waste management.
The Emilia-Romagna Region firmly believed in opportunities arising from the transition towards circular economy models. Therefore it acted in time, trying to accelerate this step developing a farsighted regulation system, first with the approval of Law n. 16, 2015, then with the Regional Waste Management Plan (RWMP).
The system outlined above will allow to obtain significant environmental benefits through the reduction of waste disposal in landfills and less use of virgin raw materials and energy, determining accordingly a reduction of CO2 emissions.
Furthermore, the valorization of waste by means of the recycling and the extension of materials, goods and products life cycle represent an opportunity to make the regional productive system more competitive, allowing the development of more innovative companies, investing in technology and in more circular production models.
The Law n. 16 defines for 2020 the achieving of important and challenging goals (with respect to 2011) in waste management, in particular about prevention, reduction of waste production, increase of separate waste collection, recycling and contrast to wastage: reduction of 20-25% in per-capita urban waste production, 73% of separate waste collection, 70% of recycling. Other strategic objectives are landfill use containment and regional self-sufficiency in waste disposal.
The actions planned in order to achieve such defined goals are implemented coherently with the Regional Waste Management Plan.
The most important economic instrument is a dedicated fund that every year grants contributions to municipal administrations which achieved the best results in landfilled waste reduction.
Between 2016 and 2017, the fund made more than 21.5 million euros available.
Evidence of success
The Permanent Coordination on Byproducts led to the identification of 6 by-products chains recognized by the Region. It is estimated that the actions implemented by the Coordination will lead to a regional reduction of industrial waste production up to 500.000 tons/y.
Currently, 48 municipalities adopted the pay-as-you-throw tariffs; they reached an average value of separate waste collection of 79% and a reduction of 116 kg per capita/y in undifferentiated waste.
The goals defined by Law n. 16 are challenging and even more ambitious than those requested by the European Union.
It will be necessary the collaboration of all the interested parties and the availability of important investments, both public and private.
Potential for learning or transfer
The Law represents an example of how regional authorities can support the transition of companies and citizens towards a circular economy, ensuring favorable conditions for innovation, the involvement of stakeholders and the definition of concrete instruments and actions to be realized by 2020.
The path that led to the law is an example to imitate, because it started from a popular initiative proposal and was built with the decisive contribution of the regional society and the municipal and provincial councils.
The Permanent Forum on circular economy and the Permanent Coordination on Byproducts represent an example of a public recognition system having the purpose of promoting the use of by-products, in line with the principles of the circular economy with a constructive collaboration view between the public and private sectors. This approach can be replicated in other territorial contexts.