Common Market

Italian waste exports to Austria in sharp decline

18.3 percent of Italian waste exported in 2018 ended up in Austria. Thats down significantly from the years before. While there is less waste ending up in landfills in Italy, why does so much waste end up in Austria, a tourist country known for its natural beauty?

Waste crisis 2017 in Rome: A large part was disposed of in the incineration plant in Dürnrohr in Lower Austria. 

Most of the waste exported from Italy is disposed of in Austria. 18.3 per cent of all the rubbish Italy disposed of abroad in 2018 ended up in Austria. In 2017, this share was 27.8 per cent and in 2016 it was 35.1 per cent, according to a newly published report by research centre ISPRA. Italy disposed of 465,000 tonnes of waste abroad in 2018, while 84,934 tonnes ended up in Austria. In 2017, 98,747 tonnes of waste from Italy were disposed of in this country. Due to chronic problems with waste disposal in its own country, Italy is still heavily dependent on foreign countries. The city of Rome in particular is fighting bottlenecks.

In 2017, the city of Rome had disposed of 70,000 tonnes of waste at the waste incineration plant in Dürnrohr near Zwentendorf (district of Tulln). This was used to generate electricity for 170,000 households in the region and district heating for St. Pölten. Despite difficulties, less waste ends up in landfills in Italy. The recycled share of household waste is growing. 58.1 per cent of Italian waste is recycled, which is 2.6 per cent more than in 2017. In ten years, the share of recycled household waste has increased sharply from 35.3 per cent to 58.1 per cent. In Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige, more than 72 percent of waste is recycled.

But why is so much waste flooding into Austria, a country internationally renowned for its natural attraction? The main reason, experts argue, is the EU's legal framework. The Waste Framework Directive and national legislation intend to gradually reduce the landfilling of waste throughout Europe. As a result, more and more countries no longer landfill their waste to the same extent as before, but do not (yet) have the necessary incineration or recycling plants to recover it. Austrian companies invested in state-of-the-art plants years ago and are pioneers in the professional recycling of waste.