The urban waste sector 11 years after the Ronchi decree
The modernization of the solid waste management sector prompted by the Ronchi decree of 1997 has proceeded slowly and is far from being completed. Regional differentials in the effectiveness of local policies and in the efficiency of waste collection and disposal firms are still large. Southern regions are lagging behind while northern regions on the whole have achieved the environmental objectives and modernized the waste management system. Local differences in service methods and quality have affected operating costs, which are higher on average in the South. Significant problems of economic regulation have yet to be solved. The self-sufficiency principle for the treatment and disposal phases and their high level of integration with the collection phase hamper competition and make it desirable for there to be regulation of the terms and condition for access to disposal facilities. Moreover, should the Government decide to adopt a vertically integrated legal monopoly model, with compulsory competitive tendering, some doubts could arise concerning the ability of local authorities to perform this task, given the complexity of the underlying contracts. Assigning responsibility for the economic regulation of the sector to a national authority could prove to be helpful.
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