Milan - Waste Management in Milan – Food Waste Collection


  • How to encourage citizen participation: there was the risk of non-cooperative behaviour, as food waste collection represented an important change, due to an additional bin at home (containing perishable waste), a slightly more complicated separation procedure (particularly for the elderly), and scepticism about the usefulness of the additional separation, due to a lack of knowledge and information. 
  • The preparation, coordination and delivery of vented kitchen bins, compostable bags and information together with 120 lt bins to over half a million households in a dense city. 
  • The organisation of waste collection with new additional dedicated vehicles, taking into account traffic and the fact that biowaste is attractive for pests and can have a bad smell.


Although the separation of residential food waste is promoted by European legislation, Milan is one of the first cities around the world and the largest city in Europe to achieve this goal. The quantity (90 kg/person year) and the quality (4% of non-compostable waste) of the collected waste are a clear signal of the project’s success.

Separate food waste collection and the process of anaerobic digestion and composting has resulted in a reduction of 8,760 ton CO2/year in 2014, which is expected to increase in 2015 to 9,500 ton/year (since collection was extended to the whole municipality only in June 2014). 

The project also has other positive effects due to the production of biogas, which results in an analogous reduction in fossil fuel use, and compost production, which is used for soil remediation and in agriculture.

Projected Outcomes

  • Better use of resources through the production of biogas, which also results in a reduction in fossil fuel consumption. The produced compost can be used for soil remediation and in agriculture and the residual waste (the non separated fraction of urban waste), incinerated in a waste to energy facility, has a higher calorific value and thus produces more energy per kg.


  • Greater environmental awareness of citizens, who feel more involved in the city’s environmental policies. The Administration hopes that this increase in responsibility and participation will be extended to other spheres of citizens’ life (e.g. mobility).


  • An additional benefit is the development of the biowaste treatment sector. Milan is an example of a leading city where food waste collection has led to the development of the biowaste treatment sector (anaerobic digestion and composting), creating new jobs.