Sponsored by
logo Dife Spa
Regulatory updates

The Circular Economy in Italy is law: Legislative Decree 116/2020

On 26 September 2020, the so-called Waste Decree, which implements two of the four European directives contained in the Circular Economy Package, comes into force. Let us be clear about the aspects that directly concern the industrial waste sector: what does it mean that special waste is assimilated to urban waste? Public or private operator? What changes in terms of fees? This and much more in our in-depth analysis of Legislative Decree 116/2020.

Lucius Patone
21 September 2020

The 26 September 2020 is an important date for the Italian industrial and environmental sector.

In fact, Legislative Decree 116/2020 - the so-called "Waste Decree" - comes into force, implementing in a single decree two of the four European directives (2018/851 and 2018/852) contained in the "Circular Economy Package".

On the regulatory level, with Legislative Decree 116/2020, the first two European directives concerning waste, packaging and packaging waste are transposed and these are the areas in which the main changes to the current legislation are made. With this decree, the fourth part of the Legislative Decree n.152/2006, the so-called TUA (Testo Unico Ambientale), is substantially modified and all public and private entities that produce, transport and treat waste will have to adapt to this new text.

What are the new features introduced by Legislative Decree 116/2020?

There are many novelties, and many of them are important. As we have said, both the economy closely linked to the waste market and, in general, the economic approach of each individual state will impact and change (we hope for the better), with scenarios currently being defined but which we hope will be positive for the economic growth of the Eurozone and Italy.

Let's see them in detail.

Special Waste and Urban Waste

The first substantial transformation concerns the assimilation of special waste to municipal waste when it is "similar in nature and composition to household waste". This point is quite important and has also been the subject of debate and questions in recent months to ensure that the Directive is transposed correctly.

The European Directive on this point rightly called for urban and industrial waste, when they are similar, to be considered similar for the general counting of recycled material. Therefore, in the percentage of waste that, according to the European Directive, Italy will have to allocate to recycling, both urban and industrial waste can be considered. During the process of transposition of the legislation, however, an interpretation was introduced that extended the concept of "assimilable" not only for the purpose of counting, but also to the person who could manage the waste in question. In practice, the management of public enterprises would also extend to industrial waste, thus preventing companies from choosing the operator to whom to entrust the management of their waste.

This interpretation was not then translated into law, and therefore Decree 116/2020 reiterates what was originally formulated: special waste and municipal waste, when similar, will be counted in the same way and will both contribute to achieving the recycling targets set by the European Community.

This is defined in point B-quinques: definition of municipal waste in point b-ter.

Public or private operator?

A direct consequence of the first point concerns the delivery of waste by non-household users. Paragraph 2a of the Decree reiterates that companies are not obliged to choose the public operator for the management of the waste they produce, but will only have to prove that they have sent the waste for recovery by means of a certificate issued by the chosen operator.

De-taxation: what changes in terms of tariff?

An interesting aspect is introduced by paragraph 10 in which it is clearly specified that non-household users who produce urban waste (according to the new definition), who deliver it outside the public service and who demonstrate that they have sent it for recovery (through the certification of the chosen operator) 'are excluded from the payment of the tariff component in relation to the quantity of waste delivered'.

Detto in parole povere, le aziende che scelgono un operatore privato per la gestione dei propri rifiuti saranno detassate in proporzione a quanti rifiuti avviano al recupero tramite l’operatore scelto. Le aziende potranno comunque avvalersi degli operatori pubblici, ma in questo caso il comma 10 stabilisce un vincolo quinquennale: chi sceglie di conferire ad un operatore pubblico sarà vincolato per 5 anni a quell'operatore e non potrà “passare” ad un operatore non pubblico. Questo vincolo non è previsto, invece, per chi si avvale di un operatore privato.

Let's recapitulate the basic points:

1) Certain types of special waste ('similar waste') are assimilated to municipal waste only as regards the calculation of national recycling targets.

2) Companies are not obliged to use a public waste management company for the delivery of their waste and can choose the private sector as early as 26 September 2020.

(3) Companies choosing the private operator must be taxed for the share of waste sent for recovery.

4) Non-household users who choose a public operator will be bound to this operator for the next 5 years, without the possibility of withdrawal and possible transfer to a private operator. The reverse constraint is not foreseen. Therefore, the private operator can cancel, the public, however, before the 5 years no.


The decree talks extensively about waste traceability mechanisms and in fact paves the way for the new electronic waste register, the Rentri, which will definitively replace the Sistri (whose adoption has been tormented and failed, we have talked about it here).

In attesa che il nuovo registro elettronico sia operativo, il decreto stabilisce le modalità di compilazione dei registri di carico e scarico, riporta in maniera più estesa l'elenco dei soggetti obbligati ed esonerati, conferma le tempistiche delle annotazioni e modifica la tempistica per la conservazione dei registri da cinque a tre anni. Stessa tempistica viene riportata per la conservazione dei formulari (art. 193 comma 4), che contiene anche la previsione della trasmissione della quarta copia mediante l'invio di PEC.

Reinforcement of the extended producer responsibility system

La Responsabilità estesa del produttore del bene, il cui acronimo è ERP, nasce dal principio secondo il quale l’inquinamento ha un costo che deve essere sostenuto dal soggetto che produce il bene inquinante. L’Unione Europea, ormai da vent'anni, basa le sue politiche di raccolta differenziata coinvolgendo in maniera diretta dal punto di vista finanziario e organizzativo i produttori e distributori dei beni.

This approach aims to stimulate the internalisation of end-of-life costs by including them in the price of the product and to encourage manufacturers, when designing their products, to take greater account of recyclability, reusability and reparability.

Questo principio veniva esposto a suo tempo nella direttiva europea n. 98 del 2008 sui rifiuti e la direttiva europea 2018/851 (una delle quattro del Pacchetto Economia Circolare) lo rafforza, stabilendo che la responsabilità del produttore debba essere estesa anche ai beni durevoli. Secondo quest'ultima direttiva, i produttori possono finanziare ed eventualmente anche organizzare le filiere del recupero, per favorire la riduzione dei rifiuti e il riciclo dei materiali.


Lucio Patone is a Product and Technology Designer, Marketing Consultant and founder of SM Italia, a research and consulting company whose objective is the analysis of new economic, social and technological scenarios.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest news from Dife Magazine

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.