Summer rubbish nightmare in Rome

Rubbish management is a public debate it is appropriate to have strong and well prepared arguments for staying in Rome. It is insidious that at certain times of the year the wrong attitude can lead to the downfall of the prime minister, As happened to Mario Draghi exactly one year agowhen he chose to build the waste treatment plant that the 5-Star Movement rejected and that served grillinos To start a clash ended with the government. The scale of the problem grows sometimes, like this summer, when an administrative problem occurs, an increase in the number of tourists and temperatures converge turning an aesthetic and health issue into a serious health problem. But the truth is that almost two years after the election of socialist Roberto Gualtieri as mayor of the city, nothing has changed.

Rome does not know what to do with the 18,000 tons of rubbish it produces on average per week. Governments, dozens of waste company managers, chiefs and all sorts of auditors passed by with innovative ideas. But nonsense, as often happens, always returns to the fore in the Roman environment. “The problem is not ours, although the company wants to point out to us. We are working at 40 degrees in the shade these days. Does it seem to you that there is no commitment from the workforce?”, pointed out Friday one of the 7,000 workers at AMA, the public garbage collection company, who asked not to be identified while emptying several containers at full speed. However, the capital is unable to cross the limits of the disparate collection of 45% (in other Italian cities it exceeds 80%) and the problem is exacerbated by heat and pests (it is estimated that there are about 10 million mice in the city.) This has been the case for a decade.

A man approaches a rubbish bin in central Rome, on July 21. Antonio Massillo

Recent records state that the monster was born on October 1, 2013. On that day, the city’s then-mayor, Social Democrat Ignazio Marino, loaded with good ideas and little ability to implement them – he ended up in a ridiculous mess of bills that forced him to resign – decided to shut down the Malagrotta landfill. This mountain of garbage was christened the eighth hill in Rome, but it was the only way for the city to process its waste. Manlio Cerroni, the controversial businessman known as the Garbage King, has managed this black hole where thousands of tons of waste end up every day. Any kind of trash was dumped there. not important. Also, for some time, environmental complaints and grievances from the European Union were of little interest, which began to pile up on the mayor’s table. The problem is that there was no alternative to this system.

capital of Italy since then, Has a structural problem with waste collection which periodically – six or seven times a year – degenerate into a crisis as serious as the one he had experienced only a week before. A massive public company that has shed 10 chief executives in the past five years (the latest was appointed last week), the lack of processing and storage facilities has created a hole that is hard to avoid. Robert GualtieriThe former economy minister, who in October 2021 won the mayoralty on the left of the Democratic Party, has promised to end the chaos and give the city – by readers of time out Like The World’s Dirtiest – Perfect condition on his first birthday as an alderman. He did so temporarily, but spent massive amounts of money on bonuses for AMA workers and sending waste out of Rome at an obvious additional cost. While most Italian cities pay an average of 100 euros per ton of rubbish, 180 is spent here, so once the first emergency is over, the cycles and the stench return.

“There is no sign of change,” assures Natalie De Colli, secretary of CGIL, the main union in Italy, in Rome. Last week they changed the CEO, which is a clear sign that management has understood their plan isn’t working. It is a problem of inability to manage. In recent days, it has improved because summer reduces the amount of waste produced. But in September the state of emergency will return. There is no doubt. The company had structural problems, but now there is faulty programming for media buying. Now we’re like 600 full speed on the street,” he points out.

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This unionist says the garbage collection company has about 2,000 trucks. “But half of them are not available because of breakdowns, diversions or other problems,” he says. In addition, each region has its own additive reasons. Central Rome, as the AMA worker deplored, is ruled by waves of tourists and restaurants. “A large part of the residential apartments has been converted into mini-hotels, and many restaurants use collection channels from private homes because it is faster than waiting for catering service. This saturates the system,” he notes. In addition, the tourism center lacks a network of rubbish bins (sometimes finding one is epic), and visitors dump the papers and waste they produce into the houses’ containers.

The unwritten rule in Italy – and this is the other derivative of the problem – says that when management works poorly in some sector, that space becomes a breeding ground for the mafia. in the last report ecomafia, From the Legambiente association, he points to the Lazio region as one of the worst in Italy in the ranking of environmental crimes and the third worst in matters related to garbage handling, with 543 offenses, 679 people reported, 17 arrests, 217 confiscations, 834 administrative offenses and 859 penalties. The same association denounced the existence of about 1,000 illegal landfills in the city.

The establishment of the famous incineration and energy production plant – which led to a confrontation a year ago with a company grillinos that ultimately cost Draghi his job – wouldn’t end for another three years. It will only be at that moment, despite the rejection by part of the political class and citizens of its potential for pollution, when the city will be able to contemplate a certain autonomy in waste management.

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