Project's presentation

Objectives of the project

The goal of the project is the application of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) procedure, integrated with Local Agenda 21 practices, the assessment of current and future impacts of urban waste cycle planning and management policy.
The involvement of local communities affected by the project is an aspect already provided by the HIA (VIS in Italian), but the inclusion of LA21, with its own forum for the various themes, will inform the public in a more comprehensive and targeted way, enabling local population, especially those from disadvantaged groups, to participate in the decision-making process concerning the construction or extension, the location and management of treatment plants, the recycling and reuse of waste.
According to the Environment Directorate-General of the European Union, in the Europe continent are produced 200 million tons per year of municipal solid waste, most of which are stored in the landfill, the rest burned in incinerators. Both methods of treatment cause some possible adverse health effects.
The main objectives of the project can be summarized as follows:

  • to develop and implementing an innovative survey system for Italy, which combines scientific rigor in environmental and health impact assessment, with an involvement of the population through specific communication plans;
  • to assign a monitoring role to population, together with independent institutes, of the entire chain of the treatment plant. The goal is to encourage applicants or holders of the system to adopt the best available technology to minimize impacts and promote environmental awareness among citizens, involving them in policy management and adopt a surveillance system continued in time from the local populations;
  • evaluate differences between the two types of treatment (landfill and incineration) as regards the impacts and governance arrangements;
  • testing an integrated tool for the comprehensive assessment of the environmental, health and socio-economic systems of two different treatment of municipal solid waste, which can then be applied in other European countries;
  • contribute to develop new and more effective guidelines for the programming and management of the waste cycle.

To try achieving these goals, they have identified two water treatment plants on the Italian territory, to which apply a retrospective VIS, with the support of the LA21 processes already active in their respective territories. The two systems involved are:

  • municipal solid waste landfill located in Lanciano (CH) – Abruzzo Region. It is the largest plant of its kind in Abruzzo, treating about 54,000 cubic meters of waste per year. It covers about 13 ha, its total capacity is 2 million and 50,000 cubic meters, while the estimated remaining capacity for 2012 ranges from 200,000 to 550,000 cubic meters, depending on what will be the strategies of waste collection. It is operational since 1995;
  • incineration of municipal solid waste of Arezzo - Tuscany Region. Burns about 40,000 tons of solid waste per year, but has been requested the opportunity to bring this figure to 80,000 t / year. It has been operational since the late 80s.


An important aspect of the project is the involvement of control agencies and environmental protection, research centers and associations of citizens, stakeholders for various reasons.

Actions involved

The project consists of six main steps, each of which is divided into specific actions.
STEP A - The first stage concerns the interface between the forum and the A21 local workgroup VIS. The two groups will meet to establish a partnership for identifying environmental pressure, socio-economic and health factors related plants activities. For each of the main themes it will be organized meetings with local stakeholders.
At the end of this phase it will get the set of indicators that will be subject to further assessment.
STEP B – The HIA working group will proceed to the scoping phase, which will define the actions needed to the specific characterizations based on the defined indicators. Then  it will carry on the collection of existing data (from scientific literature, technical documents, previous studies) and obtaining new data by specific monitoring on the environmental compartment, and through socio-economic questionnaires towards populations, according  with the Abruzzo Region’s HIA guideline.
STEP C - The HIA working group will discuss at the forum the result of the scoping, sharing with it the next steps. In this phase it will also set the thematic meetings, typical of the Agenda 21 process.
STEP D -  It will proceed to the assessment of impacts. This step will be carried out in continuative collaboration between the working group and forum. The result of this step is the quantification of the pressures induced by the two plants, it will be given the various indicators for each thematic (health, environmental and socio-economic one).
STEP E – It will draw up the report for the decision makers. Working group and forum will develop recommendations to managers about potential mitigation and/or compensation of any impacts generated by the plants. It will define indicators for the next phase of monitoring and suggestions for management policies of the whole waste chain and for territorial planning.
STEP F - This correspond to the the monitoring phase, typical of the HIA process. The forum and the working group will meet quarterly to develop and defining the appropriate steps to monitor pressures factors, discussing with and showing to the public the results in progress. It will also evaluate the strategies adopted by the plant manager and public administrator for recognition of any suggestions contained in the report (step E). The LA21 will undertake, at this stage, to define the detailed rules to keep on meetings with stakeholders and local populations, even after the end of the project.

The meetings will take place as much as possible involving those parts of citizenship that are normally out of the decision-making and management (with special attention to the most disadvantaged groups and that part of the population particularly affected by the impacts).

Expected Results

    • Create and developping a new investigation and health, environmental and socio-economic effects assessment tool, caused by the presence of incinerators and MSW landfills;
    • Provide support and, if possible, guidelines for the application of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) and Local Agenda 21 processes to waste cycle. This will allow a comparison between the two types of waste treatment, highlighting the advantages/disadvantages of both, according to the best available technologies also in relation to the costs for their building and management;
    • Develop and disseminating assessment methodologies at the local, national and EU level, creating a territorial knowledge and expertise network;
    • Define a set of environmental, socioeconomic and epidemiological indicators of the study area, which will be annually updated during the project;
    • Test the effectiveness of interventions in relation to the decisions sharing the degree of trusting showed by the local population;
    • Draw up of two reports, one for each type of plant system, which will be the new tool helping local governments to the settlement of future land-use policies.
    • Making an international experts and best practices network, to share results obtained by similar projects, which could be exstended and maintained even after the end of the project.

No less than 16 thematic meetings will be held with local stakeholders, with a presence of at least 50 participants for each session, in accordance with the catchment area size in which the plants are located.
At least two technical reports for each evaluation procedure will be drawn up, for a total of at least 4 report. For each procedure, moreover, it will expected the construction of 3 databases, for a total of 6.
Moreover, it will be provided the improvement of the industrial waste processing cycle in the two pilot plants. Since 2008, Arezzo’s incinerator handles, 34,343 tons of municipal solid waste, with a recovery of approximately 17,495 MWh of electricity; instead, the thermic energy is not recuperated.

Among the aims of the project the possibility of implementing the recovery of thermal energy for a value of around 12,000 MWh will evaluate, including suggestions for further technological improvements.

The Arezzo’s incinerator is also authorized to dry fraction treatment, for a total of 44,000 tonnes per year. Considering the total amount of waste produced in the area, a goal will be to increase the amount of dry fraction treated for at least 20% compared to the current situation, reaching 41,200 tonnes per year. This will allow approaching the limit quantity authorized. This improvement should lead to an increase in energy production (which shall be manufactured with technologies that do not generate atmosphere increase of emission and a reduction of the waste amount buried in landfill.
Lanciano’s landfill (CH) has a remaining disposal capacity which varies from 200,000 m3 to 550,000 m3, according to techniques used in the waste separation. Another aim of the project is to propose and planning strategies to stimulate, facilitating and increasing the separation of the waste typologies. In this way it could be avoid that in 2013 (the year of the possible closure of the plant), it will the need to build a new landfill, with obvious social and environmental consequences associated. The waste chain rationalization could extend the effective life of the landfill, which currently handles about 54,000 m3 of waste per year. One of the project’s purposes is to reduce as much as possible the amount of waste produced at the end of the project.
In order to ensure effective dissemination of results to scientific and technical community and to stakeholders at both national and Community level, is expected to be implemented a set of tools and guidelines useful for environmental epidemiological and socio-economic assessment of the municipal solid waste treatment plants.
The main tool used will be represented by a report addressed to decision makers, which will be a starting point for the elaboration of guidelines for the Health Impact Assessment applied to the waste treatment. All information collected during the project will feed a dedicated database, which will be the starting point for all the subsequent processing.
The guidelines shell contain, in addition to the adopted methods, practical tips to overcome difficulties that future similar projects could face, to use sampling instruments and for the organization of data survey (depending on the type and extension of the plant, affected population, local waste management policies, epidemiological data available, etc.). This guidelines shell also contain questionnaires for the population and suggestions on how to modify and adapt them for any specific needs.
The guidelines and manuals will be available on the project website. The synthetic version of the same will be distributed by newsletter to all potential interested bodies, particularly to the HIA Regional Committees, so that they will have a tool for the submitted projects evaluation and providing, thus, reasoned opinions on the basis of the results and methods proposed in the Local Agenda 21 processes.

It is provided the diffusion of not less than 400 copies in electronic format. The document will be translated into English, to distribute the content to the network created thanks to the project, for European local authorities interested in the implementation of these tools in their waste management policies.
These tools will also be included in the HIA documentation existing in our country, such as the Region Abruzzo’s HIA guidelines, Emilia Romagna monographic project monitoring, etc.