Urban waste figures drop in Lugano


A year after the introduction of causal tax, a quarter less urban waste has been produced in the city than in 2019, a figure that goes beyond expectations Consistently, recycling increases, in particular that of aluminum and tin, which increased by 70%

Urban waste figures drop in Lugano
Residents of Lugano are learning to recycle well

Urban waste figures drop in Lugano

Residents of Lugano are learning to recycle well

The city of Lugano is learning to recycle. The momentum to do so was due to a tax on the refuse sacks which came into force in the city on January 1, 2020. To confirm this trend are the figures from ​​the Lugano urban space division. We contacted Lorenzo Fornara for a budget one year after the new entry that came into force of the new financing system for the costs of waste collection and disposal, which throughout the canton is covered by an annual basic tax (in Lugano 100 francs for families) and one on the bag (1.10 CHF per 35-liter one).

Confirmed pilot projects

‘We have seen progress in recycling - Fornara begins, specifying that, if the data from January to November 2020 are consolidated, for December we are still talking about estimates: - When the official bag was introduced, they estimated a 20% reduction in municipal solid waste (RSU) produced, but the real decrease will be beyond expectations, around 25%’. Here too the numbers speak: + 8% paper and cardboard compared to 2020, + 13% glass and, even, + 70% aluminum and tin. A figure, the latter, which is the strongest evidence of the change in the habits of the residents in Lugano.

Simultaneously with the introduction of the red bag, the DSU has also launched two pilot projects, implementing the possibility for citizens to deliver to recycling centers the polyethylene (PE) bottles used. EG: milk bottles or yogurt containers, as well as wet kitchen waste. How did it go? “We have collected about three tons of PE and 180 tons of wet waste. The latter have been enhanced from an energy point of view by delivering them to a specialized firm in Cadenazzo. The two pilot projects have therefore been confirmed, with the addition that from now on, it will also be possible to deliver polypropylene (PP) bottles, widely used for cleaning products, to recycling centers’.

Has the pandemic affected?

‘The coronavirus pandemic also complicates the reading of the data. People have probably created more waste by spending more time at home. Or, better: they filled their sack faster (because eating out also produces waste). Conversely, lockdowns in various sectors may have reduced quantities. For now, however, there are no definitive data: Our feeling is that this year there has been a lower production of waste of all types due to the lockdowns’ - says Fornara. - Also because this year the big events could not be held, which certainly reduced the total mass of waste. But the impact of the pandemic can only be revealed by comparing this year’s data with those of the years to come, when we have put the virus behind us’.

Basically even

In the last few days Lugano has confirmed that also in 2021 the 35-liter bag will cost 1.10 CHF per bag (nor those of other volumes will change price). An indication that the initial estimates have indeed proved to be true and that the new system covers all costs? ‘Given that it is not the intention of the City to adjust the basic and causal tax every year but to review them every few years in order not to create confusion, in 2020 we should have obtained a substantial breakeven. They estimated that they would collect 6.7 million francs from the basic tax, but that will be around 400,000 CHF less. This is because there is a pending appeal with suspensive effect by hoteliers and restaurateurs on this point and therefore for now we have not issued invoices for these categories. On the other hand, we thought we would collect 2.7 million from the tax on the bag but it will be 3.6 million CHF.

At the beginning of 2020, red bags had become a rarity, sold out quickly especially the 35 liters sacks. Fornara then explained it to us as follows: ‘A sort of leopard spot has been created: some shops have ordered too many bags, others too few. In addition, several people panicked and immediately bought many rolls, even up to a dozen, but that is the need for a whole year’. A rush to spend which, according to the official, now contributes to explaining why the city has collected almost a million francs more than what was estimated.

Sometimes it’s better small

For years the people of Lugano did not have to worry too much about what they threw in the black bag, responding above all to their conscience. With the red bag, the decision now also affects the portfolio, and the first results are what we have illustrated. For Fornara, however, there are further savings margins: ‘We have noticed that many half-empty bags are delivered to us and therefore we are collecting more because the citizen does not fully fill the bag. My advice for those who don’t do it is to reduce the size: buy the 17 liter one instead of the 35 liter one. In proportion it costs the same and can solve the problem of stench, which I think is one of the reasons why we notice half-empty bags’.

Two fines a day

Last autumn, after a period of awareness and the complications due to the pandemic passed, the first fines for those who transgress the new rules began to flock in Lugano: ’We call more or less two a day - says Fornara: - In 80 -90% of cases are due to the non-use of official bags, while in the remaining percentage to the discovery of waste that should not have been disposed of in the red bag’.

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