A garbage 3-wheel mini truck on a street of Rome

Rome’s new government spots the culprit for waste crisis: Christmas wrapping paper

Rome’s new government spots the culprit for waste crisis: Christmas wrapping paper

An ongoing problem that needs a sustainable and working solution

The Italian capital Rome has a problem with garbage. It has been so for many years now and a big part behind the electoral success of new mayor Roberto Gualtieri was his promise to help resolve this issue, which does not befit a European city of the 21st century.

In fact, the new mayor stated the big clean-up operation of Rome will be complete by Christmas, “if not sooner” and he earmarked some 40 million euros for the purpose. It appears, however, that the issue persists and the deadline will not be met.

Meanwhile, Sabrina Alfonsi, Councilor for the Environment, has met a slew of criticism for suggesting that residents should consider not using wrapping paper for their Christmas gifts as this only aggravates the waste piling problem.

Striking and absenteeism among the waste collectors

Later on, Councilor Alfonsi had to clarify her appeal by explaining she had been misunderstood and that she did not mean for Romans to buy fewer presents but rather to consider the question of excessive and unnecessary waste that is produced by wrapping paper.

To make matters worse, last week the workers employed in the rubbish collection and environmental hygiene services announced they will be joining a nationwide 24-hour strike on Monday, 13 December, to protest the stalling in negotiations regarding better working conditions in the sector.

Nevertheless, the environmental councillor also had some good news in terms of concrete efforts to do something about the seemingly chronic waste problem of the Italian capital.

In order to combat the issue of absenteeism among workers at the municipal waste collection firm, Ama, during the Christmas / New Year period, about 3 million euros will be used to pay rubbish collectors a 360 euros bonus to encourage them to turn up to work. Likewise, catering businesses will have to take out their trash only once a day at a pre-determined time after closing.

By mid-February Ama will have to present two projects for two anaerobic biodigesters, plants that allow the treatment of organic waste through a composting process in an oxygen-free environment. The organic fraction today in Rome weighs over 150,000 tons a year, almost all of which is taken to plants in the Northern Regions (of Italy) to obtain fertilizers for agriculture and biogas. Treating them locally would mean substantial cost savings, less pollution produced by means of transport and the possibility of producing energy,” explained Sabrina Alfonsi on her Facebook page, giving a dose of optimism for the upcoming year. She also added that the construction of the treatment plants will be financed with EU recovery funds.



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