This morning was scrolling down my reader, when my attention was caught by an article of a blog “romandispatches” (whoever would like to venture to Rome even in such “desperate” times I heartily recommend it). The blogger, I guess his name is Peter, had exhumed a post about recycling that dated back to five years ago to strike the actual situation in Rome for what concerns garbage collection. To his eyes, at that time we Romans looked very attentive to recycling, he had actually used the word: “obsessed“. “Obsessed?” Had we been truly obsessed with recycling there would have never been such environmental degradation in spite of the manifested incompetence the administrators who have been sitting in Campidoglio in recent years.
The truth is that about six, seven years ago each Roman family received a recycling kit made of a pretty bin for wet waste and four of five bags, I can’t remember now, where paper, glass, plastic had to be properly sorted. The bags were so popular, actually, that one of my colleagues, who clearly doesn’t suffer from shopping addiction like myself, loved them so much that decided to use the entire set even to go to work…… to school😳. One day she came with the bag for glass and the next with the bag for paper. I am sure she had never experienced such extravagance of habit in her entire life.
There was also a booklet included in the kit with all the instructions so that everybody could have his chance to become a good, caring citizen. I may say that it worked at the beginning. Even those who lived in small flats like myself of about 60 square meters were proud to sacrifice almost five of them to the 5 big bags destined to garbage. So all the Romans started the recycling adventure. Everybody went to the dumpsters and diligently emptied those bags in the way they had learnt from the booklet, it was good after all to have 60 square meters back for a while.
Problems turned up when we, diligent citizens, started to find the dumpsters full as they had not been emptied. At first we didn’t mean to give in and walked till we came upon one empty and this soon became part of a fitness routine for many of us I dare say, but if it rained or you were just too fatigued, you couldn’t but carry your full bags back home. Till one day, since the dumpsters were constantly full, I guess somebody, fed up with sorting uselessly garbage every day, must have chosen to follow a shortcut, that is, putting the paper, for example, in the first empty dumpster he found, while somebody else started to think that it was high time to exhume the old polluting plastic bags, so that, if necessary, they could be placed next the dumpster and the redirect the usage of the other bags to other purposes. I guess my colleague was one of them.
Sooner or later all of us have fully or partially followed these shortcuts.So this is how everything started and it cannot but getting worse as there is not a plan, any realistic plan for what concerns separating collection of waste. Administrators cannot be of any help and this can be easily understood just reading this tweet of Virginia Raggi, who has been Mayor of Rome, the capital I would like her to remember, for more than two years now:
This morning the mattress, which had been abandoned in Viale Filarete in Tor Pignattara by a couple caught red-handed thanks to a videotape made by a citizen who, like most Romans, cares about the city’s decorum, has been removed.
Wow, I feel much better now and more hopeful for the future. The wind is changing.
Hard not to be cynical in times like these, but I guess we’re all cynics now.
In Wales — which has been near the top for recycling in Europe for some years — we’ve now heard that maybe two-thirds of the plastic we’ve diligently put out for recycling is unrecyclable and probably goes to landfill anyway. I do hope that’s not true, or only partly true. Anyway, the key is apparently good collection facilities: maybe Rome hasn’t yet heard?
64%!!!Wow! I’ll pass the articles to our Lady Virginia. The greatest problem is that Rome and the entire country is guided by most ignorant, incompetent, arrogant, homophope, racist ( am I forgetting something🤔?) bunch of idiots ever! When the Mayor of the capital feels like celebrating the removal of a mattress to a landfill as a great outcome of this administration, well, my dear,……..this is the end. 😩
When we moved to Colorado we were surprised of the lack of recycling options with trash pickup (in Michigan, you had a separate bin where you sorted glass, plastic, aluminum, etc. and a separate truck would come to collect them).
Not in Colorado. But, when we moved there, most large parking lots and all the Wal-marts had big recycling bins clearly labeled for the various recyclables (paper, plastic, cardboard, metals, glass). They were regularly serviced and I seldom saw them at capacity.
Here’s the thing; although clearly labeled and clearly stated that mixing recyclables would ruin the recycling effort (metal and plastic in paper bins, for example) pretty much every bin had the wrong materials in there. Some were just used to dispose of garbage.
After many warnings that mixing recyclables negates the recycling effort, one by one each of the locations closed down. Within a few years of me moving there, most places no longer offered bins. And, no, it wasn’t because of me.
There was still a County recyclable location (and disposal of hazardous waste like batteries and old paint and whatnot) but it was out of the way and whenever I went there I would at most see one other person there.
So, while Rome might have different issues, in my experience, the main issue has always been people. People who basically don’t care. And, the thing is, you only need a few of them to ruin it for everyone.
Like I said, it sounds as if Rome has other logistic (governmental) issues, but as long as people want to congregate in large numbers it’ll be difficult providing for (and babysitting) all of them.
You are right. People are the problem, in fact I was inspired about writing this article when I read the blogger decribe the Romans as “obsessed” with recycling. Maybe his friends were truly obsessed, but as a true born Roman I know they must have been a lucky exception. However, if you add to people’s incivility the ingnorance and incompetence of the present administration the only result possible is this endless nightmare.
It all comes down to the importance of being Earnest, when speaking about mattresses *wink*.
I will be back in the city for the weekend and I truly cannot wait. Sure, I have not missed our “Garbage Problems”.
Rome has being under ill-government for many years now, with Raggi’s being only the latest one, and the situation is indeed getting worse. “Ama”, together with “Atac” and their non-existent management or problem solving activities (see the latest “Flambus” happening this morning in Acilia, close to where we live) are a true issue for the city, and a big one too!
And while it is true that public transport may be “cheap” (especially if compared to London’s, though they are not comparable for efficiency), I believe we pay a very high tax on garbage and waste. I wonder in whose pockets it really goes..
Anyway, as my fellow commenter already stated, the problem lies in the people. It just take a few of them to ruin the effort of many, and in Rome we seem to be packed with them!!
Back to Rome! Come and see me at schooll. I’ll be there Tuesday afternoon.
Oh Prof that’s a shame! I am back in London now, I stayed home only for the long weekend. I expect to be back in October, maybe 😦
So you missed Notting Hill Carnival !!!I loved it so much.
Hello Mrs. Tink.
I should say that in Spain we have the same problems, actually this moring I heard on the radio that the pólice and ¨bomberos¨ have been called in because of people in Madrid complaining about the smell.
I should say something though, all your trash that in my mothers house that is, she live in the outskirts of town, they have actually to take it 5 kilometers out for the other idiots to get it, if they get it that is, so is not that easy, but my mother as a good woman will do it.
But they do not put it easy here, plus the garbage guys come when they want really. I have seen
those ¨beans?) full of shit in my own town every day.
Glad to finally read you, I can only spend some hours in the library to get wifi, and¨you should kick those kids you teach in the but, like they should have done to me …..if the parents say something you just move your head from right to left or left to right and say ¨He is crazy!!!
love ya, Stay Frosty mam.
So, different places and same problems, but your mother is very good indeed if the closest bin is 5 km far!
She is the best
We’re fortunate to have a decent recycle program – and we do well as a household. Your post reminded me of something we observed in Italy several years ago. We were on the platform waiting for a train. I recall the color-coded bins – then a worker came by an empties the individual (sorted) bins into one large bag of garbage. Hmmmmm ….
So, you understand well why things don’t work here. Why should I took the trouble of sorting garbage when these kind of acts happen constantly?!?
All your posts are important and interesting. It’s as desperate in poor, confused England, of course. “Bonum autem conversatio” – if that’s correct.
It’s correct. Thank yoy so much for your words of appreciation. Stefy 🙋
It is always interesting to read about other countries and their struggles with their failing ‘leaders’, when one usually feels that it can’t get worse than our own sad and embarrassing situation! But you have a point, regardless of government failures, people must take personal responsibility for recycling (and most anything) to work properly.
These kinds of complaints are quite common nowadays, unfourtunately.