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Saint Francis of Assisi: rendering a religious community sustainable and circular


Fra’ Sole is a sustainability project involving the monument complex of Saint Francis of Assisi and its nearby forestry, olive groves and vegetable gardens. The project has gained the support and endorsement of relevant firms in the Italian circular economy and ethical finance sectors in order to:

  1. Significantly reduce the environmental impact of the religious community and of the pilgrims visiting the site, with total decarbonization of the complex as end goals.
  2. Make the project replicable by drafting policies that might be applied to similar closed systems (schools, hospitals, jails, residential structures).
  3. Raise ecological awareness among visitors and pilgrims, while spreading good practices of sustainability.

Stages of the project:

  • Shared strategical planning among the promoting organizations.
  • Technical analysis and report on:

a. Material flows - Incoming materials: catering, cleaning products, water • Production, collection and disposal of all fractions of waste
b. Energy flows - Electricity • Cooling • Heating • Domestic hot water
c. Procurement - Reduction of packaging, Green purchases,  Local/organic products, Ethical financing

  • Planning and implementing the best available solutions for the areas of intervention identified with the help of chosen partners.
  • Drafting a project report and regulations to replicate good practices in similar closed systems.
  • Disseminating good sustainable practices among pilgrims and visitors of Assisi (project website, informative materials, events, sustainability kit for pilgrims).
Main results: 

With the executive part of the project still ongoing, some important results have already been recorded, while some others are to be verified in the next stages.

Achieved results:

  1. Elimination of single-use products at the events organized by the religious community, replaced with biodegradable and compostable products (in line with EU standards UNI EN13432).
  2. No more purchasing of water in plastic bottles, thus saving around 13.000 plastic bottles every year.
  3. Use of biodegradable and compostable disposable products and coffee pods at the coffee points.
  4. Introduction of 1.200 bins for the separate collection of waste; reorganisation of the internal collection with consequent reduction in undifferentiated waste from 50% to 30%.
  5. Introduction of a composting point for the recovery of organic waste (7.300 kg per year). The compost is then reused in the olive grove and in the community's vegetable gardens.
  6. Restoration of the historical tanks for the collection of rainwater, to be re-used in cultivations.
  7. Electricity supply through renewable sources.

Expected results:

  1. Total decarbonisation of the monument complex.
  2. Visitor/pilgrim involvement in concrete actions for the reduction of the environmental impact throughout their stay in Assisi.
  3. Identification of cases where to replicate this good practice.