The Union of Municipalities of Montiferru-Sinis is an interinstitutional governing body in the province of Oristano, in the region of Sardinia in Italy. Presently, the Union is composed of the following nine municipalities: Bauladu, Bonarcado, Cuglieri, Milis, Nurachi, Santu Lussurgiu, Seneghe, Tramatza and Zeddiani.
The Union is in charge of managing some public services on behalf of the nine municipalities.
In order to reduce the amount of waste and ensure good quality waste (both recyclable and non-recyclable), the active participation of citizens is the key. The activities for citizens’ involvement put in place in Montiferru- Sinis aimed at communicating the new system, sharing the goals of the programme, collecting knowledge on users’ habits and needs, and raise awareness on the problems and opportunities related to waste production and collection.
In preparing for policy implementation, several meetings have been organised in the individual municipalities. These meetings began in 2013 and continue until today, as part of an explicit strategy for continuous (and not one-shot) communication on waste reduction (also to deal with a rapidly changing legal context and subsequent changes in waste collection). The typical meeting is open to all citizens and includes participation by the mayor of the municipality, the representative of the Union and the representative of the managing company. The focus is on good practices for waste collection.
In the course of the different activities for setting up the new system, learning and development of trust were reported as relevant outcomes. Concerning the first, the service provider had the possibility to fine-tune the system significantly and collected several insights on how to redesign waste collection for both the non-recyclable and recyclable fractions (for instance, changes in the way clothes and oils were collected followed the interaction with citizens). As for the development of trust, citizens were highly sceptical of the coding, which was perceived as a form of control by public bodies. However, the open meetings and distribution events were effective in convincing them that the innovation was worth doing, that the system would have been fair (‘the polluter pays’) and that the new variable tariff could deliver monetary rewards.
Expected outcomes for the full implementation of the coding system are the reduction of the total amount of waste (in particular the non-recyclable fraction) and energy savings for waste collection and disposal.
The coding system is waiting to be implemented in 2018, so that lessons can only be provisional. However, in order to fine-tune the system and get citizens used to it, the Union is running the coding experimentally (i.e. without connecting the quantity of dry waste to the variable tariff). The experimental application revealed a progressive learning by citizens, who start adjusting their behaviour responding to the greater identification made available by the coding system.
At the moment, however, they still do not use bins at maximum capacity (they still deliver semi-empty bins, using the collection service twice a week when they could ration their use further). It is expected that – when coding will be connected to the tariff – citizens’ behaviour will respond to the incentive and users will start rationing the service and reducing quantities further (so that a once-a-week frequency will be finally implemented). Hence, in the hypothesis, the mix of tools for an effective implementation would certainly include facilitators and normative appeals (such as leaflets, campaigns and public meetings, the distribution of bins, and so forth), but would need sanctions and rewards to push co-production further.
Concerning shortcomings, the Union is still struggling with managing tourists, whose short presence is not suitable for the lengthy socialisation process that was used for stable residents and where sanctions or rewards would be harder to implement. A ‘tourist kit’ (with bags for differentiating waste) and its widespread diffusion (i.e. a further effort on simplifying and facilitating co-production) was experimented this year and will be probably institutionalised in the near future.