[Smart Waste Disposal] Rachele Bertoni (r.bertoni@studenti.unibg.


[Introduction] Speaking about the waste disposal, in the last years Bergamo was able to improve a lot its commitment and it is possible to say that its results are quite positive: Bergamo is the fourth city in Lombardy for the percentage of separate collection of waste (more or less 53,8%). However, there are still some failures in the system and the service in use cannot be considered totally “smart”. To enumerate some problems, it is possible to say first of all that the separated collection of waste is not total (plastic and organic waste are not collected separately) and moreover not all the areas of the city are covered by this service. Indeed, in the upper side of Bergamo, it’s more difficult to collect waste in the ordinary way because of the topography of the area and the public image that the place must have as tourist attraction. Then rubbish is collected less frequently and the separate collection of waste covers only a small part of total rubbish. Innovative ways to solve these problems should be found in order to help Bergamo to become a smarter city and a better city where to live in. The waste disposal can be seen as a small problem in comparison with the high level of pollution but it can be consider as the first step to improve things. As a matter of fact it can be very useful for both the governance and the society to know and to trace the exact way that the rubbish follow from private households/companies to the junkyard, to know who are the more virtuous citizens and create a new system of taxation and new sanctions. Moreover by increasing the quantity of collected separated waste, it is possible to gain also economic benefits and produce more energy thanks to the correct waste disposal. Then using a smart waste system is really beneficial for everybody.

[The Service Now] In the city of Bergamo the waste collection and disposal is managed by Aprica spa, that in collaboration with the municipal administration try to find the best possible solutions for the city. Aprica spa is a company that has operated in the field of environmental hygiene since 1971 and it is acting in three big areas in Lombardy that are Bergamo, Brescia and Mantova.

Speaking about the city of Bergamo, the separated collection of waste (paper, plas plastic, organic waste, glass, tin and aluminum) is carried out only in domiciliary form and the n results are not as positive as in the small villages in the area around the city: as a matter of fact when we speak of a relatively big city we have to consider additional concepts such as additional traffic congestion, tourists and a large population. Moreover in the case of Bergamo people should consider that the city also has a very peculiar topography of the area; first of all the city is divided in two sides: the upper and the lower city. The upper one is the antic city and centre; it looks like an ancient village with small streets and old buildings and of course the land is not flat. Secondly, Bergamo is surrounded by an hilly area that is difficult to manage. Then in order to find the solution that best fit the topography of the area, the city has been divided in four ares: • • • • the “upper city” (the so called “Città Alta”); the city centre; the suburbs; the hilly area and “San Virgilio”.

By so doing according to the area where citizens live, they have to treat waste in different area ways; in particular this is true not only in relation to the different timetables that they have to follow but also to the type of waste that is collected as a single category. In the suburbs waste is collected according to the following modalities: • • • • RESIDUAL WASTE: once a week; ORGANIC WASTE: twice a week; PAPER AND CARDBOARD: every two weeks; GLASS WITH TINS: every two weeks for households and every week for commercial users. In the city centre waste is collected according to the followings modalities:

• • • •

RESIDUAL WASTE: twice a week; ORGANIC WASTE: twice a week only for commercial users; PAPER AND CARDBOARD: once a week; GLASS WITH TINS: once a week.

In the Upper City the waste disposal is so organized: • • • • RESIDUAL WASTE: three times a week; ORGANIC WASTE: twice a week only for commercial users; PAPER AND CARDBOARD: once a week; GLASS AND TINS: once a week for households and twice a week for commercial users. And finally in the hilly area we have this organization: • • • • RESIDUAL WASTE: twice a week; ORGANIC WASTE: twice a week; PAPER AND CARDBOARD: every two weeks; GLASS AND TINS: every two weeks.

Moreover the separate collection of plastic will start on November 5; however the city centre, the Upper city and the hilly zone are not included in this initiative. Actually the waste disposal in Bergamo is more or less of 54% and the introduction of the separate collection of plastic will allow to increase this percentage with great advantages for the environment.

[Perceived Problems] At a first glance the solution found by Aprica spa and the municipal administration for the city of Bergamo can be seen quite virtuous and the results are positive in absolute terms. But if we take into consideration other cities and villages (such as Genova, Modena, Cognento and other villages in Emilia Romagna) it is possible to see that their system of waste disposal covers all kinds of waste and moreover they try to find smart solutions where the classic waste disposal is not practicable. By interviewing different citizens of Bergamo, I found out two main problems. First of all people do not understand why in certain areas of the city there is not the waste disposal of organic waste; they complain that they have to retain waste for several days and this imply unpleasant odors. For people that live in flats, this is even worse. Moreover citizens that are more “environmental friendly” said that glass and tins are collected together and this is not a very good thing for

recycling. Also the fact that the plastic was not disposed separately for several years and that the new initiative does not cover three big areas is considered a pity. Above all for in the city centre there are lots of shops and commercial users that due to their activities produce a lot of plastic waste (packaging, bags, bottles, etc). In addition to this, in my opinion if Bergamo wants to become a tourist destination (and it has all the possibilities to be that: near the airport, some museums and historical places, the beauty of the Upper city), it should be better to find a sort of “invisible” way to collect waste, at least in some strategic areas. By so doing the image of the city will not be damaged by amounts of rubbish that are exposed by users during time of collection.

In order to succeed in the creation and the evolution of a smarter system of waste disposal all the citizens and the community have to be made aware of the importance of the issue and understand all the benefits that they can have. To do so the municipal administration has to start education programs and try to develop a good network of incentives and an efficient monitoring system.

[Potential Solutions] In relation to the old city centers it is possible to say that sometimes the waste disposal is impracticable because of some problems such as obsolete infrastructure, narrow streets and small areas. Moreover at the same time we have to take into account also the aesthetical and hygienic parameters that a city has to respect as a place of tourist attraction. Then some cities and companies have developed innovative ways for the disposal of waste ( see www.envac.it). An example is the underground suction system for waste that has been installed in the cities of Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona (Spain). By

so doing it is possible also to avoid the use of trucks and so to reduce the air pollution and the traffic congestion. Moreover also the level of hygiene is improved.

. Another intelligent idea has been adopted in Modena and the area around this city: citizens are provided with an environmental card that allows them to open all the rubbish road containers for the waste disposal (plastic, paper, cardboard, glass,..). This can be very useful to identify all the users and trace all the waste cycle. Other cities, such as Rimini, instead of a magnetic card use an usb key to use the caps for the waste collection.