Waste management in Italy stands as a dynamic sector, contributing significantly to the national economy, exceeding 27 billion euros annually. The annual production of urban waste amounts to around 30 million tons, with approximately half of it being recycled. This positioning places Italy seventh in the EU for recycling rates. The network of facilities dedicated to waste management in Italy comprises 657 operational structures nationwide, focused on the northern regions. These facilities encompass various categories, including those for organic fraction treatment, mechanical or mechanical-biological treatment plants, landfills, and incineration plants.

In Italy, the conversion of waste to energy (WTE) is a key strategy for managing non-recyclable waste:

  • Annual Processing Capacity: WTE facilities annually process more than 6 million tons of urban waste.
  • Energy Production: The energy generated from these facilities is sufficient to supply around 2.8 million households.
  • Geographical Focus: These facilities are predominantly located in the northern regions, where there is a higher population density and more industrial activity.
  • Contribution to Energy Production: The WTE approach has the potential to contribute up to 8% of Italy’s current electricity production.

The Main Types of Waste Management in Italy 

Hazardous Waste

In 2021, Italy produced approximately 10.7 million tons of hazardous special waste. To be clear, it makes up about 5.6% of the total special waste managed. The construction and demolition sector contributed the most, accounting for 47.7% of the total.  Secondly, waste treatment and remediation activities contributed 24.2%. Finally, manufacturing activities contributed 18.2%. Special waste production is concentrated in northern Italy, representing 58.4% of the national total, followed by the central and southern regions.

Managing hazardous waste involves both recovery and disposal operations. There was an increase of 11.4% in managed waste. Material recovery is the primary method employed, followed by landfill disposal. Additionally, efforts are underway to enhance waste management practices.


Upcycling presents a growing opportunity in waste management in Italy.  Innovative applications are turning waste into higher-value products. Currently, a considerable amount of waste undergoes upcycling processes, aiding in waste reduction and resource valorization.


Italy possesses significant potential in biogas production. Biomass sources like sewage sludge, agricultural and agro-food waste, and organic waste are converted into biogas and further refined. Currently, there are over 2,000 biogas plants and around 85 biomethane production facilities. Most of them are situated in northern Italy.

Emerging Opportunities and PNRR

Italy is dedicated to meeting European objectives for urban waste treatment. The focus lies on the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR), which entails large investments to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of waste management. These measures aim to decrease landfill usage. Moreover, they encourage material recovery, and modernize existing facilities.

Research and Technological Development

Italy is engaged in researching and developing innovative technologies to enhance waste management and foster environmental sustainability. In fact, many projects are underway to create advanced solutions. These include waste monitoring systems, more efficient recycling technologies, and sustainable waste treatment processes.

Public-Private Partnerships

In Italy, public-private partnerships collaborate to implement policies and initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of waste management. Moreover, through these collaborations, resources and expertise are shared, thus enabling effective solutions to waste management challenges.


Optimizing your Italian market strategy through in-depth analysis of company strengths, weaknesses, and market dynamics.

Tailored market assessments providing essential insights and data for successful business entry into Italy.

Connecting you with key market players to build valuable relationships and expand your reach.