SIRCLES in Italy: discover its impact on local communities and their approach to waste management


This article forms part of a series of publications under SIRCLES project to support circular economy opportunities for employment and social inclusion in our partner territories in Palestine, Lebanon, Spain, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, and Jordan.

Emanuela, a 41-year-old woman, resident of the province of Bari in Italy shared her experience as an in-job trainee of SIRCLES project in Italy, implemented by Consorzio Italiano Compostatori. One of the main activities she carried out so far is the sensitization campaign in the 4 municipalities of Alberobello, Locorotondo, Noci and Putignano which are involved in SIRCLES project regarding the proper domestic management of organic waste. She was able to do that through analyzing the results of a questionnaire previously prepared and given out to the residents. Through the campaign, SIRCLES project raised awareness on the importance of correctly collecting food waste and was able to guarantee that the final product was a high-quality compost, to benefit the soil. “The sensitization of citizens in the municipalities have been really educational and interesting for me as well as for my colleagues. It was a great opportunity for growth and exchange, an activity that allowed us to interface with many different categories of people” Emanuela mentioned.

The steps of the organic waste chain are not well understood (where does the organic waste go and what is the primary end product of its recycling), which allowed SIRCLES team to analyze and discuss a variety of factors. As anticipated, younger people are more likely to lack environmental education than older people. They are unaware that the majority of municipal waste is made up of organic waste. Thus, SIRCLES project in Italy made it clear, that among other things, the municipality is required by law to separate waste collection, and can reject to collect the residue from those who fail to do so. Emanuela admit that “Since I've been devoting time to the SIRCLES project, I have grown even more in love with the environment, and I feel like a new, more alive, and real woman.” This is thanks to the trainers who did an excellent job. It should be taken into account that in 2020, 4.5 percent by weight of the organic waste sent to recycling plants in southern Italy were impurities (non biowaste) and from those, 14.3 percent were diapers.

Finally, Emanuella is thankful for the training sessions which enabled great resiliency to be used in communication with citizens, so that the trainees felt familiar with their tasks from the beginning. “Among other things, it was wonderful to be able to donate compost to those who gave us their time in completing the questionnaires. It is also always rewarding to work for the environment and receive the appreciation of those who interact with us.”