Milan is the largest city in Europe to establish residential food waste collection city-wide, involving nearly all residents in less than two years.

The Challenge

With a population of 1.36 million people, Milan faced the difficulty of managing high quantities of food waste within a densely populated area. In order to meet the challenge, Milan engaged the population and restructured waste collection services to minimize traffic and fuel consumption.

The Solution

In 2011, the Italian City of Milan’s overall recycling rate was low and consisted mainly of dry recyclables, like paper and plastic, collected separately at the curbside. Food waste was only collected from commercial sources. The city decided to improve planning and subsequent collection in 2012 and, already by 2014, the entire city was included in the process, with over 90 kg of waste collected per resident each year, reducing CO2 by 8,800 tons.

Citizens collect their food waste in compostable bags picked up twice weekly at the curbside. That same day, the food waste is transferred to an anaerobic digestion and composting facility. The logistics of the collection and transfer are carefully organized to limit fuel consumption and minimize traffic. To ensure citizen engagement, the city made sure to inform and involve citizens by designing a dedicated app. Furthermore, free vented kitchen bins were delivered to all households.

Environmental Benefits – The project ensures better use of resources, as waste is used in the production of biogas and reduces fossil fuel consumption.

Social Benefits – After being successfully engaged in the project, the Milanese now feel more involved in environmental policies and are generally participating more in city initiatives.

Economic Benefits – Implementing food waste collection in large cities can boost the bio-waste treatment sector and lead to job creation in the city

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in ten sectors, ranging from solid waste management to transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments.  You can access the full Cities100 2015 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Social
Key Impact
The City of Milan has managed to involve nearly all of its citizens in collecting food waste in compostable bags. The food waste is used for production of biogas and compost for soil remediation.
Emissions Reduction
9,500 tons of CO2 expected to be reduced per year through food waste collection in Milan
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