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Julie Cook Kitchener Apr 22, 2024 12:39 pm
Hi all,
There is a city in Sicily called Calatafimi Segesta that, although small, has made tremendous strides in the past two decades toward achieving zero waste while at the same time actively engaging its citizens. 
The story begins in 2003, when the governor of Sicily at the time proposed to build four incinerators on the island, hoping that that would solve their municipal solid waste problem. There was strong pushback from local citizen groups and environmental activists, who were very concerned about the health and environmental impacts of burning waste. Due to the controversy surrounding the project, the four incinerators were never built. This was a victory for civil society and demonstrated the importance of active citizen participation in the implementation of environmental policies and projects.
Eight years later, in 2011, municipal councillors unanimously voted to become a Zero Waste City. That public commitment, and the ambitious goal contained within it, set the city on a path toward sustainability with respect to waste management. Since then, Calatafimi Segesta has engaged in a number of zero waste initiatives. 
Here are some examples:  
-       Door-to-door collection service for all households and businesses in the city centre
-       A free, on-call collection system for special items (e.g. bulky items, e-waste, and garden trimmings)
-       A financial deduction for households who compost
-       The creation of a Reuse Centre in 2023 that recycles textile waste, among other items
-       A new municipal site, open to the public, that collects a wider range of waste items
-       A “plastic eating machine” in the city that is a compactor for plastic bottles 
The Reuse Centre in Calatifimi Segesta

The city’s mayor is very clear about the benefits of these initiatives. He mentions that the compost generated by the city is beneficial for agricultural purposes, the recovery of materials is useful due to raw material scarcity, and the opening of the reuse centre has created new jobs, which is good for the local economy. 
The results? Since the municipality made its commitment in 2011 to be a Zero Waste City, Calatifimi Segesta has doubled the amount of materials it collects for recycling and reuse, and it has reduced its volume of waste by two-thirds. 
In addition to the obvious benefits mentioned above, and the ambitious initiatives undertaken by the city, it appears that one of the key ingredients to success in this case is that the citizens of Calatifimi Segesta are both aware of and enthusiastically involved in waste management initiatives. In short, social cohesion and inclusion go a long way when it comes to promoting sustainable behaviour.

To read the full story of this little zero waste giant and others like it, visit the zerowastecities.eu website here