European guidelines on waste

Currently, waste production and waste disposal are under a national, European and global spotlight, since they directly relate to the behavior adopted by society. Current patterns of consumption and production are not sustainable. The main reasons for this are a lack of adequate waste management strategies, as well as a lack of awareness in the population. In response to the first reason, the European Commission published the "Roadmap on the Review of Waste Policy and Legislation" on March 26, 2013, which reviews the current regulatory framework in Europe. The review also states that there is a need to update the guidelines and the economical instruments that incentivize re-using production chains. The aim is thus to align the overall management to the indications given by the European Agency for the Environment in the report "Towards a Green Economy in Europe", issued in July 2013. In response to the lack of awareness in the population, the DG Environment European Commission included stakeholders and the community in the decision-making process, in the “Arrangement of a Waste Management Plan” report, 2012. The European Directive Framework on Waste 2008/98/EC, already stated that "a consultation should be included in each stage of the planning process, in order to allow public authorities to make informed decisions”.

The approach of HIA21

The adoption of a participatory and transparent approach in the Life+ Project “HIA21” - Participative assessment of the health, environmental and socioeconomic impacts resulting from urban waste treatment - constitutes the methodological framework for assessing the impacts of two different management options, and for setting up a network of contacts in the area.

The HIA21 project aims to apply Health Impact Assessment (HIA) procedures integrated in the Local Agenda 21 practices, in order to provide a tool for the impact assessment of the waste cycle management. This approach is innovative and integrates the democratic participation of the communities in the local strategic planning. The population residing near an incinerating plant and a landfill site, in two different Italian regions, has been characterized for the health status, the environmental exposure and the socio-economic condition.

The key objectives of the project are:

  • Applying an HIA procedure combined with Local Agenda 21 methods.
  • Involving locals in a process to establish guidelines for urban waste management in the area, experimenting methods of participation which include public forum meetings and the active work of focus groups.
  • Evaluating the health, environmental and socioeconomic impact of the incinerator and landfill, through means approved by the scientific community.
  • Deepening awareness of local communities concerning their role in land-management policies.
  • Developing guidelines to support local planning policies.
  • Developing an international network between public bodies and research institutions.

The Lanciano Case Study

This limited the collection of data and of the best available information to the impact assessment and monitoring phases. The project impact was to emphasize the relevance of the local policies and actors in the reduction of waste production and the improvement of recycling. The large consultation of the communities by questionnaire provided a picture on the socio economic status and their feeling about the current waste policy in the area. The perception of health status and waste management service proved to be strongly influenced by age, level of education and income. An Agenda 21 forum on the specific issue of waste was established. The separate waste collection door-to-door was enhanced covering the whole municipality.

The Arezzo Case Study

The HIA21 project increased interest in waste issues in the general population and generated collective expectations concerning the decisions of the new waste management plan, and the identification of optimal management alternatives. Some public events focusing on the issues of waste cycle were developed in collaboration with the Municipality. Local administration and policy makers became key players in the achievement of project objectives. The contribution of citizens and stakeholders during the project modified the decision of local administrators of doubling the incinerator's capacity in favor of differentiated aste collection, which passed from the target 65% to 70%.

Details of the project

  • Duration of the project: 01/09/2011- 31/12/2014
  • Regions involved: Tuscany, Abruzzi
  • Total budget: 1.978.072 €
  • Contribution beneficiaries: €1.053.759
  • Web site:

Impacts of waste management

The network of collaborations, that was built involving the community and the municipality administrators, was fundamental to collect new data and share the project results. Findings of the health and socioeconomic studies supported the selection of sustainable waste cycle management in Arezzo and Lanciano.. The HIA21 approach facilitated the building of trust among relevant parties – citizens, administrators, owners, local actors - and the conduction of the assessment of impacts. Also, it increased the sensibility and awareness within the community. The setting up of a systematic channel for communicating and informing citizens is desirable to improve the knowledge of the area by local decision makers in order to plan targeted interventions in areas with environmental pressures that would improve social equity.


The LIFE project HIA21 won second prize "Healthy Cities 2013" with special mention to the "importance of the project" at the 11th Meeting Italian Healthy Cities - WHO on the topic of "Communication and participation for health promotion - 2013 "European Year of Citizens" (Milan, 16-17 May 2013)

Measures implemented

  • fase A

    The project aims to carry out six sets of actions, from A to F, in a linear way and in compliance with the general model of HIA, in order to discuss the results of the three areas of evaluation with administrators, technicians, experts and local people. The three areas are: health, environment and social-economy. Roles were identified within the partnership, in harmony with the expertise and an organizational chart was established.  The survey in the areas was initially used to get to know the population.[...]

    In the course of three-years, the preparatory actions (A2 , A7)  led to the creation of a database to prepare the socio-economic survey and the health study (Action A6).  The disclosure and administration of the questionnaire (A2 were conducted during a period of "rapprochement" and awareness raising of the population especially through Forum meetings (actions A3, A4, A9 and A10).  A total of 326 questionnaires were collected in Arezzo and 133 in Lanciano. The questionnaires are not representative of the entire population, given the exploratory-cognitive nature of the investigation, however they can be considered as the expression of groups that are particularly aware of the issue.  In fact, the compliance of participants in the Forum was 100%.

  • fase B

    The integration of the decision-making and administrative component of the local areas and the involvement of citizens' committees increased the interest of the parties involved in carrying out the screening and scoping analyses. Among the activities conducted in the screening phase, the following were carried out: identification and collection of documents on regional policies and sub regional waste management (actions B1 and B2) and prior knowledge on plants, such as regulations and authorizations, plant functioning, existing pressures in the area, monitoring data (actions B3 and B4). [...]

    Among the activities carried out in the scoping phase, was a consultation with stakeholders, administrations, Local Health department, the Regional Health Agency, the local EPA for the acquisition of the basic data and the reconstruction of the missing information. This work led to the creation of data repositories and existing studies on the environmental (action B5), health (action B6) and socioeconomic (actions B7 and B8) issues.  The output of these actions consisted of two technical reports, (actions B1 and B2) related to the two sites, from which it is possible to identify a synthetic 'state of the art' and references to existing material and documentation of great importance for the local areas; protocols for studying health in Lanciano and Arezzo (Action B6); analytical calculations for all environmental compartments: 1,888 for air; 2,480 for soil; 15 for noise (action B5); questionnaires for the socio-economic survey at the landfill and the incinerator (actions B7 and B8).

  • fase C

    The participatory process led to the creation of numerous local events, such as an information-sharing exercise with the communities involved, with the creation of the 11.10.2013  Forum in Arezzo and the 28.06.2013 Forum in Lanciano (actions C1 and C2).  The case of Arezzo proved to be optimal in developing a rich dialogue between the parties, leading to the creation of numerous communication, dissemination, planning, and shared work events. According to the protocol of  community participation in HIA21, it was necessary to adapt the Local Agenda 21 to the needs and objectives of the project. [...]

    The identified model is composed of three main subjects with different roles. A forum and a focus group were created in addition to a project coordination group. The roles of each subject were defined as described below.  The coordination group together with local project partners provide scientific evidence on the impacts and the directions to implement the process. The forum, made up of individuals in the community, is aimed at sharing processes, results and final recommendations. The focus groups of local experts work on targeted issues. They integrate the content of the work done by the Forum and the coordination HIA21 group, evaluating processes and results.  The final phase also involves the definition of the monitoring plan.

  • fase D

    Arezzo and Lanciano were the two cities that were put under the magnifying glass of HIA21. The project developed the study and appreciation of the environmental, (action D1health (action D5) and  socioeconomic impacts in Lancian (action D9) and  Arezzo (action D10) deriving from two different systems of waste treatment in the two municipalities.  The incinerator in Arezzo, which has been active since 2000, burns about 40,000 tons per year. The landfill in Lanciano, which has been operational since 1995, covers about 13 hectares, serves 56 municipalities in the province of Chieti, processes 54,000 m3 per year, has a total capacity of just over two million cubic meters and has an operating range from 200 cubic meters to 550 cubic meters. [...]

    When the HIA21 project started, the authorization for an expansion was underway for both structures, which included an increase in capacity. Simultaneously in both geographical areas a low level of knowledge on the subject and widespread concern were noted, not, however, based on reliable information. The European project was thus perfectly inserted in the two towns, supporting them in this important stage for their communities, in finding the best option.

    The impact in Lanciano has been very positive, general awareness has changed and the synergistic action from the evidence raised through scientific activities along with the pressure of citizens led to the city stopping the expansion of the landfill. The results were presented to the public in the final event of July 19, 2014. (actions D2, D6 and D11).

    Also in Arezzo HIA21 induced a virtuous cycle and consistent with the real situation in the area, not only was the interest of the population stimulated but also the administrators were directed towards more environmentally-friendly and healthier choices.  The possibility of doubling the capacity of the incinerator was in fact discarded and it was decided to increase the percentage of recycling from 65% to 70%. The results were presented to the public in two stages, at an early stage on 11 November 2013 and in the final stage on April 3, 2014. (actions D3, D7 , D12).

    The press releases and articles published are available in the "News and Events” section of the website. The complete list can be downloaded in the actions D8 and D13.

  • fase E

    A report to the decision-makers contains the project results. The first section identifies the context and the methods by synthesizing the results for the areas of environmental, health and socio-economic assessment. The second section contains technical reports, tools and guidelines; it also includes several methodological documents for further information on specific topics (Action E1). A network of contacts and best practice exchanges with national and international experts was created, and the results were shared with local decision makers and with similar projects (Action E3). [...]

    Various channels of interaction were created on the following issues:

    • monitoring and surveillance systems for decision-making processes (Inphet network);
    • methods for the evaluation of impacts (IAIA network);
    • use of open source data for the study of health-environment interactions by public and private observatories (LinDA project);
    • health monitoring and political decisions (MAPEC project);
    • support of young people in public health decisions (GIOCONDA project);
    • HIA guidelines and HIA regulations (T4HIA project).
  • fase F

    The goal of the project was also to guarantee the population a long-term monitoring strategy.  In this regard a real file was created, for each area of assessment, health, environmental and socio-economic, which indicates the macro and micro indicators, the necessary interventions and expected results for both the assessment of impacts and the level of participation. [...]

    Arezzo’s monitoring activities were conducted according to the plan initially defined with the forum (action F2).  The requirements of the Arezzo system are provided within the Integrated Environmental Authorization, which is a legally binding normative instrument. 

    Project HIA21 visited the plant and the manager explained and discussed the current state of the system and the renovation and transformation proposed in the new plan.  The HIA21 working group then suggested some indications for monitoring the environmental component that managers can then decide to accept and integrate together with what had already been prescribed (action F4).  Additional indicators related to the policies the area, and were collected through the acts and guidelines on provincial and regional waste management (Action F11).  For the production of the indicators, all stakeholders who intervened in the project made themselves available in the focus groups with the citizens.  Out of this came the summary sheet with the monitoring indicators (action F13).

    Project HIA21 was evaluated by the participants themselves, who voluntarily completed the feedback questionnaire. The evaluation reports produced for Arezzo and Lanciano summarize the aspects that need attention (Action F14).