What are the challenges – and opportunities – of moving towards a circular economy?
By Elisabetta Perrotta, Director, FISE Assoambiente
In an economic landscape still largely defined by the global crisis of 2008, waste management is now a key element in the country’s economic output. Thanks to recent advances in technology, the industry provides materials and energy from recycling and recovery activities to the manufacturing sector. This allows manufacturers to use more waste as inputs instead of raw materials.
In this way, the waste sector represents an essential component in revitalising the economy, while also creating new opportunities for environmentally responsible consumption. However, the sector needs clear and consistent rules if it is to play its full part in this economy transformation. There needs to be a clear long-term strategy, solid legislation, and more consistent implementation and reading of the rules if the waste sector is to grow without adding to environmental pollution.
Currently, the sector suffers because of concerns related to NIMBY (not in my back yard) and NIMTOO (not in my term of office). Private waste management operators also face particular difficulties in Italy in gaining access to local public-sector markets. This is caused by various barriers to entry, such as late payments by municipalities.
FISE Assoambiente is the Italian association representing companies involved in municipal hygiene services, waste management and soil remediation at both national and European level. Since its inception, the association has been concerned with enhancing both regulation and the technical aspects of the industry. Our aim is to develop the necessary conditions that foster fair competition in, as well as the industrialisation of, the waste sector.
The industry now offers the chance to promote both economic growth and new opportunities for qualified, professional employment. But only by treating the waste sector objectively will it be possible to allow operators to grow while also complying with the requirements of best available techniques.