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Rome mayor unveils 12-point plan to tackle the capital's rubbish crisis

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Rome mayor unveils 12-point plan to tackle the capital's rubbish crisis
Rome is notorious for the large amounts of rubbish piling up, even near iconic monuments. File photo: FIlippo Monteforte/AFP
11:32 CEST+02:00
Rome mayor Virginia Raggi on Wednesday announced a 12-point plan to tackle the rubbish crisis which has for years plagued the capital.

Unveiling what she labelled an "ambitious plan", Raggi explained that she had chosen not to use the word "rubbish", instead referring to "post-usage materials".

"What we consider rubbish are in fact materials which can be returned to a new life," she said, adding that the goal was for Rome to become a 'Zero Waste' city.

The plan, which has been approved by the city council, aims to reduce the amount of rubbish produced in Rome by 200,000 tons over the next four years. This will be done by rewarding those who produce less waste, encouraging and facilitating recycling, upcycling, and re-use, and a series of awareness campaigns, as well as improving efficiency in waste collection.

Meanwhile, recycling rates should rise from 44 percent to 70 percent, thanks in part to three new recycling plants for organic waste to be built around the capital.

The location of these plants has not yet been confirmed, though Raggi said they wouldn't be near residential areas.

Raggi presented the 'Plan of management for post-usage materials 2017-2021' on Wednesday, together with the city's environmental councillor and head of its waste management system AMA.

A 'Green Card' system will reward households and businesses which separate their rubbish or produce smaller amounts of waste, giving them reductions on the annual fee paid to keep the streets clean. Currently this fee stands at an €250, a figure 50 percent higher than the national average. 

'Eco islands' will be set up around the city, for residents to recycle waste which can't be disposed of in household or street bins, while 'Centres of Creative Re-usage' will see discarded products such as furniture transformed or 'upcycled' into new items. 

Waste collection agency Ama will be restructured to create municipal divisions, bringing the company "closer to the citizens" and more efficient, Raggi said. Meanwhile, domestic refuse collection will be extended to more households until the entire city benefits from the service.

In total, the plan will cost 300-350 million euros, though the council said this cost will be partially offset by anticipated annual savings of ten million euros due to the more efficient system.

After being elected in July 2016, Raggi's administration wasted no time in promising the city's streets would be cleared up "within a month". It set itself a deadline of August 20th, which came and went without much change.

Worse still, having pledged to overhaul the corruption-tainted refuse collection agency AMA, Raggi came under fire for putting a former AMA insider, Paola Muraro, in charge of cleaning up the agency.

It soon emerged that Muraro was under criminal investigation linked to her time as an AMA consultant and the mayor had been aware of this.

Waste disposal problems are a long-standing bugbear for residents of the Eternal City.

Even without the frequent strikes which bring collections to a halt, rubbish and litter quickly pile up in the city's ancient streets – embarrassingly, often in front of some of its most iconic landmarks.

The issue has even spawned a popular website called 'Roma fa schifo (Rome is disgusting)' which charts the levels of degradation in the capital.

Despite the problems, Rome's citizens pay each year to keep the streets clean, a figure 50 percent higher than the national average.

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