Italian municipalities and the obligation to adopt the pay as you throw tariff: what will happen after 6th June 2019?
The Ministerial Decree of 20th April 2017 introduced the regulations on the pay as you throw waste collection system (TARIP), which sets out the “criteria whereby the municipalities create pay as you throw metering systems for the quantity of waste consigned to the public service or management systems featuring the use of corrective action to share out the cost of the service, aimed at implementing an effective tariff model that is consistent with the service rendered and fully covers the costs for the management service of urban and similar wastes”. The Ministerial Decree entered into force on 6th June of the same year, fifteen days after it was published in the Official Journal on 22nd May 2017 and will become effective on 6th June 2019 for all municipalities, as set out by Article 10: “The municipalities which, in the delay in issuing this decree, have applied pay as you throw metering for the variable part of the tariff, will adjust their regulatory provisions to the prescriptions of this decree within 24 months of its coming into force”. What will happen after that date?
Italian municipalities and the pay as you throw tariff: the state of the art
How many municipalities in Italy have adopted the pay as you throw tariff system for wastes? The 2018 Urban Waste Report of ISPRA (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale [Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research]) shows the results of the survey, for 2017, of the municipalities “which have introduced a collection system with a payment nature based on the criteria of metering the waste produced, in implementation of the provisions of the Decree dated 20th April 2017”. The survey was carried out by ISPRA, which sent a form to all the municipalities (7978) existing in our country on 2nd October 2017: of these, 2593 replied, 32.5% of the total number, with a clear preponderance in the north (2151 municipalities, 83% of the survey sample) compared to the centre 185 municipalities, 7.1% of the sample) and the south (257 municipalities, 9.9% of the sample). The sample population is 26,701,613 inhabitants, corresponding to 44.1% of the Italian resident population (ISTAT census 2017), divided between northern regions (16,930,190 inhabitants), central regions (5,482,842) – here the presence of the municipality of Rome, with over 2.8 million inhabitants, has a significant affect on the total sample – and southern regions (4,288,581).
♦ Only 341 municipalities apply the pay as you throw tariff
As at 31st December 2017, out of the 2593 municipalities in the survey, only 341, or 13.2% of the total, apply “the pay as you throw tariff or equivalent system, called Pay-As-You-Throw, based on the use of detection and quantification systems for the production of waste, with reference to the individual user served”. On the other hand, over 86.8% (2252 municipalities) still make use of the standard TARI [waste collection tax], calculated by taking into account the surface area of the residence expressed in square metres and the number of occupants. Out of the 341 municipalities, 324 are in the north (95% of the total), whilst in the centre and south of Italy there are just 5 (1.5%) and 12 (3.5%) municipalities, respectively, where the pay as you throw tariff is in force.
♦ Numbers still low in the majority of the Italian regions
Veneto is the region with the highest number of municipalities to apply the pay as you throw system: 120 out of the 341 analyses, equal to 35.2% of the total. It is followed by Trentino Alto Adige, with 77 municipalities (22.6%), Lombardy, with 66 (19.4%), Emilia Romagna, with 34 (10%) and Piedmont, with 21 (6.2%). The other northern regions and the rest of the country show really poor percentages: in the north “5 municipalities belong to Friuli Venezia Giulia (1.5%)” whilst the “Liguria region has only one municipality on the pay as you throw system and this is the Municipality of Follo (0.3%)” in the La Spezia district. “In the central macro-area, for 2017, the Tuscany region has 4 municipalities on the pay as you throw tariff (1.2%) and “Lazio is represented by only one municipality, that of Posta (0.3)”, in the Rieti area. Finally, in the south, there are 5 municipalities in Abruzzo (1.5%), 2 in Campania, Calabria and Sicily (0.6%) and one in Sardinia (0.3%), that of Arzachena, in the district of Sassari, which have adjusted to the TARIP. Another datum that arises from the study is that the majority of the municipalities where pay as you throw metering is carried out, out of the 341 examined, have less than 5000 inhabitants (181); this is followed by those with a number of inhabitants between 5001 and 10,000 (89), between 10,001 and 50,000 (60) and between 50,001 and 150,000 (3), whilst there are no municipalities with more than 150,000 inhabitants.
Results that are so different from those expected are due to several factors:
♦ Slowness of Italian bureaucracy
The long times for planning the pay as you throw collection service and calling for tenders, together with the passing the buck, prevent the process from taking off.
♦ Chaos at a regulatory level
Article 1 of the Ministerial Decree dated 20th April 2017 sets out the criteria for the creation of “a) pay as you throw metering systems for the quantity of waste consigned by the users to the public service” and “b) management systems featuring the use of corrective action to share out the cost of the service according to the service rendered”, which is entrusted to the municipalities. The latter are however free to form consortia, joint into ATIs (Integrated Territorial Areas) or transfer the responsibility to third party bodies: a series of factors that complicate the process and slow it down.
The regulatory chaos is also linked to the metering criteria: Article 4 refers to both weight and volume: “pay as you throw metering of the wastes consigned is obtained by determining, as a minimum requirement, the weight or volume of the RUR (solid urban waste) consigned by each user to the waste management public service” and adds that “the quantities of other parts or flows of waste in the separated collection, including consignments made by users at the municipal collection centres can also be metered”.
♦ Lack of punishment rules in the case of default
The absence, in the Ministerial Decree, of a part on the sanctions provided for municipalities that have not adjusted to the pay as you throw system by 6th June 2019 has not driven the municipal authorities to comply with the new regulations in good time; it is thus not clear what will happen to the defaulting authorities after that date.