In 2011 around 252 million tonnes of municipal waste were produced in the European Union, that is 502 kg per inhabitant, a very high, but fortunately decreasing number, while the quantity of packaging waste increased both in Europe and in Italy. The NO WASTE project, implemented by the Municipality of Reggio Emilia in partnership with the Municipality of Trento, Ambiente Italia, Coop Consumatori del Nordest and the Reggio nel Mondo association, aimed to establish partnerships between the local authority and the Large-scale Organized Distribution (LOD) in order to prepare and implement an action plan for the prevention and reduction of the waste generation within the participating stores. In addition, the project involved the implementation of a feasibility study and a market analysis to evaluate the opportunity to create a "Reuse Center".
The project’s objectives were to:
- contribute to the reduction of waste generation, especially limiting packaging-related waste, both on citizens’ and supermarkets’ side, through the setup of a working group - including the main players of the LOD in the municipal area – to support the implementation of practical waste reduction measures and to offer citizens more environmental-friendly products;
- design a reuse center with the aim to manage the unsold non-food products of the LOD.
To achieve the above goals it was necessary to raise the awareness of citizens, large retailers and businesses. Large-scale Organized Distribution can make a significant contribution to waste minimization as it can influence, for example, packaging policies, and can help to enhance consumers’ environmental awareness what will then have a positive effect on their purchasing choices.
Fasi del Progetto
The main project actions were:
- Mapping of the best practices of waste reduction in the large-scale retail trade, implemented at national or international level, independently from the LOD, and of the activities carried out by local or private bodies in collaboration with the LOD. Planning and organization of meetings with the participation of the implementers of the best practices and local partners to compare the different points of view of the various stakeholders. This phase was very useful to start defining a first draft of the LOD’s waste reduction plan.
- Drafting of 2 Action Plans for Waste Reduction, with actions addressing consumers and supermarkets in the Municipalities of Reggio Emilia and Trento. Interested parties could join the Action Plan by signing a specific memorandum of understanding between the administrations of Reggio Emilia and Trento and the respective large-scale retail chains. In this way operators committed themselves to carry out actions of prevention and reduction of waste generation, based on the following scheme:
- mandatory actions: actions to be mandatorily implemented by the operator in its own activity, such as to sell reusable eco-shoppers and products with refills, make available containers for batteries and sell rechargeable batteries, pay attention to the eco-packaging of the products, etc.
- optional actions: the implementation of the optional actions, including returnable packaging (bottles), loose detergents, or tap water distributors, allows adhering operators to gain scores, proportionally to the effective waste reduction achieved with the implementation of the actions or to the complexity of the implemented actions. Large-scale retailers that have joined the agreement can benefit from the use of a quality label for the sales points adhering to the project’s objectives: choose, reduce and reuse.
- After the finalization of the Waste reduction plan of the Trento Region and that of the Reggio Emilia Region, memoranda of understanding were drawn up, for the experimental implementation of the action plan, between respectively the Municipality of Reggio Emilia and members of the LOD and Municipality of Trento and members of the related distribution chains. With this voluntary agreement, the Municipalities of Trento and Reggio Emilia and the local LOD chains have committed themselves to testing concrete waste reduction practices, concerning primarily packaging, with the aim of developing actions and initiatives to reduce waste both in their internal processes and in the interactions with consumers.
- Definition of a feasibility study for the creation of a Reuse Center and an economic analysis of the collection centers which made it possible to recover unsold large-scale non-food goods.
- Targeted communication towards stakeholders and citizens through a specific communication campaign with the objective of fostering the territory to join the project that favors the achievement of the European environmental objectives, promoting virtuous supermarkets, and educating citizens to spend in a simple, ecological and aware manner.
- Collection and monitoring of waste data to verify the effectiveness of the measures envisaged by the Plans.
NO.WA was an initiative that led to the development of new waste reduction plans in the municipalities of Reggio Emilia and Trento. The main results achieved are:
- The main environmental benefit of the project derives from the achievement of the waste prevention and reduction objectives. In the period between 2011 and 2014, the waste reduction in Reggio Emilia amounted to 5.561 t/ year (-4.5%) and the per capita reduction to 36 kg/ citizen/ year, while in Trento it amounted to 6.545 t/ year (-10.9%) and 57 kg/ citizen/ year. From the analysis of the data obtained it was estimated that the implementation of the Plans resulted – with reference to a standard hypermarket – in a waste reduction of approximately 7 kg per 1.000 Euros of turnover (approximately 500 t per year).
- A Best Practices Report was drafted to map the most virtuous waste reduction experiences in the large-scale distribution implemented both at national and international level.
- The collected best practices were also reported within the no waste website aimed at promoting synergies, sharing information on projects and ideas for the future, and allowing to further explore the issues of recycling, reuse and prevention.
- A preliminary feasibility study for the creation of a Reuse Center in Emilia was carried out to analyze the development potential of the reuse market. The feasibility and the preliminary sustainability of the construction of a structure, that would have the function of collecting and enhancing the non-food reusable waste of the large-scale distribution, were assessed. The study was based on the analysis of the waste management flows and of the reuse mechanism.
- Development of a Guideline to support local authorities and the large-scale distribution in projects aimed at the construction of reuse centers. The document includes also a scheme related to the regulatory framework of such constructions.
- Drafting of the Communication plans for the Municipality of Reggio Emilia and the Municipality of Trento.