Open Discussion


Urbanization, the demographic transition from rural to urban, is associated with shifts from an agriculture-based economy to mass industry, technology, and service. For the first time ever, the majority of the world's population lives in a city, and this proportion continues to grow. One hundred years ago, 2 out of every 10 people lived in an urban area. By 1990, less than 40% of the global population lived in a city, but as of 2010, more than half of all people live in an urban area. By 2030, 6 out of every 10 people will live in a city, and by 2050, this proportion will increase to 7 out of 10 people. Currently, around half of all urban dwellers live in cities with between 100 000 - 500 000 people, and fewer than 10% of urban dwellers live in megacities (defined by UN HABITAT as a city with a population of more than 10 million).
The amount of Solid Urban Waste, one of the most important by-products of an urban lifestyle, is growing even faster than the rate of urbanization. Ten years ago there were 2.9 billion urban residents who generated about 0.64 kg of MSW per person per day (0.68 billion tonnes per year). It is estimated that today these amounts have increased to about 3 billion residents generating 1.2 kg per person per day (1.3 billion tonnes per year). By 2025 this will likely increase to 4.3 billion urban residents generating about 1.42 kg/capita/day of municipal solid waste (2.2 billion tonnes per year).
Poorly collected or improperly disposal of waste can have a detrimental impact on the environment. In low- and middle-income countries, SOLID URBAN WASTE is often dumped in low-lying areas and land adjacent to slums. Lack of enforced regulations enables potentially infectious medical and hazardous waste to be mixed with SOLID URBAN WASTE, which is harmful to waste pickers and the environment. Environmental threats include contamination of groundwater and surface water by leachate, as well as air pollution from burning of waste that is not properly collected and disposed.

There are a number of concepts about waste management which vary in their usage between countries or regions, such as Waste hierarchy, Extended producer responsibility and Polluter pays principle.
The waste hierarchy refers to the "3 Rs" reduce, reuse and recycle, which classify waste management strategies according to their desirability in terms of waste minimization. The waste hierarchy remains the cornerstone of most waste minimization strategies. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a strategy designed to promote the integration of all costs associated with products throughout their life cycle (including end-of-life disposal costs) into the market price of the product. Extended producer responsibility is meant to impose accountability over the entire lifecycle of products and packaging introduced to the market. This means that firms which manufacture, import and/or sell products are required to be responsible for the products after their useful life as well as during manufacture.
The Polluter Pays Principle is a principle where the polluting party pays for the impact caused to the environment. With respect to waste management, this generally refers to the requirement for a waste generator to pay for appropriate disposal of the waste.
The methods currently adopted for waste and wastewater management greatly vary on a Country base.
The waste hierarchy remains the cornerstone of most waste minimization strategies. The aim of the waste hierarchy is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste.


April 7, 2016 - 4.00pm - 6.00pm


Nicola Nosengo

Introductory address

"Zero Waste: an essential program if we are serious about sustainability"

Paul Connett

St. Lawrence University, USA
Professor Connett will outline the “ten steps to zero waste” which he discusses in depth in his book *The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time* (Chelsea Green, 2013). Connett explains why this approach offers a fundamental challenge to the throwaway society not by offering a "magic machine" to make the residual fraction disappear but by making this fraction (our industrial design failures) more visible.
Connett will provide examples of where communities throughout Italy and beyond have shown that they can reduce, reuse, recycle and compost (the 3 R’s) our discarded resources achieving diversion rates of 80-90%. He argues the next crucial step towards sustainability is to “re-design” (the fourth R) the products and packaging left over. In essence the problem has to be shifted from the back end of community responsibility to the front end of industrial responsibility. He provides practical and concrete ways in which communities can deliver this message to industry: “If we can’t reuse it, recycle it or compost it, industry shouldn’t be making it.” The key step to take us towards sustainability is to harness the brightest and most creative minds in our communities, universities and industry to design waste out of our system.


Mario Malinconico

National Research Council, Chairman of the Conference

Francesco Ferrante

Kyoto Club, ITALY

Daniele Fortini


Francesco Iacotucci


Wu Jisong

Beijing Municipal Government, CHINA

Stefano Leoni

Fondazione Sviluppo Sostenibile, ITALY

Roberto Morabito


Carmine Pagnozzi

Assobioplastiche, ITALY

Ermete Realacci

Legambiente, ITALY

A Representative from EU Commission

A Representative from Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea