by Mario Grosso, Politecnico di Milano, published in Waste Management & Research, 2016
There is no doubt that solid waste management is a very complex issue, particularly when recycling is part of the programme where one needs to retrieve the maximum from a very poor quality input. Like most complex issues, it has to be tackled from many different points of view, with all the actors playing their roles towards attaining a common objective. No magic wands exist, nor universal solutions applicable to every geographical and social context. We have to deal with situations where the most important challenge is to reliably collect the waste and store it somewhere, up to more advanced waste management processes, where not one single kilogram of waste is ‘wasted’, neither in terms of material, nor of energy. Here I focus on the latter situation, touching some points that have fuelled debate and that deserve continued attention. Finally, I will also give some insights on what is going on in Italy, a nation where waste management has become ‘a matter of State’, which periodically floods the media because of various emergency situations stemming from lapses in planning and execution.