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From waste to resources: Genoa looks ahead to a circular economy

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City of Genoa

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Comune di Genova - Alessandra Risso

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AMIU, Genoa's municipal waste management company has completely rethought its strategy and organisational structure. The public utility now looks beyond its 40-year linear business model based on the disposal of waste in its landfill site and adopted a new business model in 2014 that is based on value and material recovery. This approach aimed to boost waste recycling rates and included a new collection plan titled ‘From waste to resources’, developed in partnerships with stakeholders, citizens, AMIU employees and the local community.

In July 2017, the new political administration expressed the will to relaunch AMIU’s action and further encourage separate waste collection. An analysis of existing good practices was carried out to define a new strategy, and the administration drafted a plan to reorganise the company.


Due to the complex morphology of its old town, Genoa faced difficulties in implementing the new collection plan. One of the main challenges was to shape the mindsets of citizens to encourage them to recycle. Furthermore, the increase in the municipal waste tax, due to high investments in the collection plan, also required further communication to ensure buy-in. Finally, changing AMIU’s internal culture and organisation to adapt it to the new waste management practices also proved to be a challenge.


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The city along with its municipal company engaged in various activities, first by designing and implementing a new municipal waste collection plan. An advertising campaign entitled ‘From waste to resources’ was developed simulatenousaly to raise citizen awareness regarding the importance of recycling. AMIU also developed a mobile application called ‘Clean App’ to help residents correctly separate waste.

AMIU, in partnership with the city's local administration, learnt from Paris' experience with participatory consultation by engaging businesses, researchers, academics and other circular economy stakeholders while drafting the ubran white paper on the ‘general state of Genoa's circular economy’.

One of the inititative's greatest achievements so far is the creation of LiguriaCircular, a permanent exchange platform on the circular economy that promotes a culture of sustainable development through events and dissemination in the metropolitan area of Genoa and Liguria. This project is part of Genoa’s smart city strategy and counts over 200 members including public bodies, companies, universities, research centres, professional associations and more.

Genoa is currently also upgrading AMIU separation plants to support more recyclable materials. It is also providing a training programme to AMIU employees in order for them to master the whole new process.

The city of Genoa also began collaborating in trans-European circular eocnomy projects such as FORCE, which aims to minimise the leakage of four materials from the linear economy - plastic waste, strategic metals from electronic and electric equipment, surplus food and biowaste, and wood waste - and works towards a circular economy. The other project is WEENMODELS, an innovative approach to modelling waste.


Implementing a circular economy is not a simple task. First, it requires a shift in mindsets and cultural attitudes from all stakeholders. it needs investment to get citizens involved and receptive to waste prevention and waste separation.

These practices are connected to a ‘responsible citizen’ culture, which needs to be strengthened since citizens are the first link in a new circular industrial chain and essential for achieving a circular economy.

Information and communication are other critical factors. Questions like “what’s the process behind the waste bin?”, “why do I separate more and pay more?” or “how can I be sure that recycled materials go into the industrial process again?” call for more effort in terms of consistency of the information process and continuous involvement.

Despite being the first circular economy principle, prevention is not sufficiently considered. Cities must abide by recycled waste target laws but they aren’t called on enough to promote prevention practices.