Milan is working to reduce CO2 emissions resulting from non-recycled waste as well as the polluting effects of inefficient waste management logistics (e.g. traffic) and landfill waste. The need for multi-stakeholder collaboration and action is a general challenge facing the city. Numerous departments need to be engaged and some measures, such as home waste separation, require the public to adopt lifestyle changes. To achieve success, City Hall needs to ensure the effective merging of top down (city implemented) and bottom up (public or local association action) components of its initiatives.
Due to separate food-waste collection, anaerobic digestion and composting initiatives, 10,000 tonnes of CO2 were eliminated in 2015. The City extended food waste collection to the whole territory at the end of June 2014, which has yielded an estimated annual CO2 reduction of over 9,500 tonnes per year from 2015 onward.
Milan has begun implementation of “open-air market organic collection”, a programme that supports market operators and traders in recycling waste from Milan’s numerous open-air stalls. A trial monitoring phase for the programme reported an organic waste collection rate of 18% and the City looks forward to tracking changes as the project is rolled out and optimised.
In total the food-waste collection, anaerobic digestion and composting programmes are expected to result in an annual CO2 emissions reduction of at least 9,500 tonnes.
The city conducted thorough analysis of its open-air food markets to assess potential waste interception levels. They found that the fraction of organic waste was 39.1% and the target interception goal was set at 50%. If implementation is successful, this would result in an estimated 20% organic waste interception and a predicted 25 tonnes of CO2 eliminated. Additionally, more stringent waste management practices in the markets will result in improved food hygiene and reduced associated health risks.
Milan is one of the first cities of its size to implement separated residential food waste management programmes and, by sharing its experiences, could inspire other cities to adopt similar schemes.