Home arrow Lifestyle arrow Rome sanitation department under attack but many Romans not doing their part

Other recent articles
Is Fiumicino Airport at Risk? Inappropriate building materials may have been used.
Italians feel vulnerable to encroaching poverty.
Wettest summer in 35 years
Donor insemination to come to Italy
Sites reopened at Pompeii
Sari's e-book on sale this weekend at Amazon
Alitalia’s fate hangs in the balance.
Berlusconi cannot leave Italy (for now)
Keep an eye on (or rather, in) your bill fold.


Rome sanitation department under attack but many Romans not doing their part PDF Print E-mail
Jan 06, 2014 at 03:38 PM

ImageLet’s be clear about this. Separating waste for recycling is not a form of torture invented by AMA, the Rome sanitation department, to drive Romans crazy. As in all of Europe, it stems from the European  Union’s 2008 Waste Framework Directive designed to improve the environment and thus all of our lives: by recovering waste according to precise typologies and re-using it in industrial processes and energy production, we can reduce our need for dwindling raw materials and thus limit the amount of garbage destined for landfills, of which the Rome area has far too many, or for old-style incinerators.


AMA is under attack for inefficiency – delays in pick-ups, changing schedules and overall disorganization - in collecting trash. But are the Romans pitching in and doing their part to the necessary degree? I think not. Collecting urban waste destined for recycling is not easy in any large city. If it is done primarily at the household level, families are forced to fill their homes with too many bins (think of what will happen if, in 2015, the EU goes ahead with plans to have glass, metal and plastic collected separately!) If it is done later on, municipalities will be required to hire more labor, something most of them cannot currently afford to do.


In an ancient, historic center such as Rome, collecting refuse for recycling becomes even more difficult. The streets are too narrow for the dumpsters used in other parts of the city. And even if there were sufficient physical space for them, they would be a terrible eyesore in a city known for its beauty the world round.


As of now, AMA has come up with two models of waste collection in downtown Rome, both of which rely on alternate day schedules and the use of differently colored plastic bags (which now, I am told, may no longer be distributed by AMA). The first system is one in which residents walk their garbage to pre-established collection points, no fun for anyone but particularly hard on the aged and infirm. The second, the door-to-door system in use elsewhere in the world (who knows why Italians always think they, uniquely, are victims?), is also imperfect because in the mornings (and often even later, although not necessarily because of AMA’s inefficiency) the streets are lined with unattractive garbage bags. I can’t imagine what other solution there could be but let’s be clear. These imperfect models will totally break down if residents don’t do their part.


Yes, it’s true. Old habits die hard and many older Roman residents probably nurture nostalgia for the past when the garbagemen (now called ecological operators) actually climbed upstairs to pick up everyone’s unseparated waste right outside their apartment door. But times change and one must learn to think of the community, not just of oneself.


Everyone I know who is ecologically-minded and who lives in the historic center is going crazy because of all the neighbors who refuse to abide by the new rules. Either they don’t separate their refuse into the required paper, plastic glass and metal, food refuse and non-recyclable categories, or they don’t respect the hours and put their garbage out on the street at inappropriate times. Some continue to leave their refuse inside their buildings, causing problems for other residents, forced to clean up after them. And still others deposit paper, plastic and glass into the bin reserved for food refuse, thereby making it ineligible for composting. Yes, AMA has defects but the historic city’s inhabitants bear a lot of the blame.








<Previous   Next>


Related items





5   4