The new classification of municipal waste

Prepared by Guido Ajello, Annalisa Di Ruzza, Edoardo Ferrero e Alessandra Pepe

The Legislative Decree no. 116 of September 3rd, 2020 implemented two of the Directives of the Circular Economy Package into the Italian legal system. The new legislation outlines a common action plan that sets ambitious prevention, recycling and landfill targets for better waste management in Europe and in order to promote sustainable economic growth. Therefore, this implementing legislative decree not only aims to incorporate into the national legislation some fundamental principles of the European Union legislation on waste, but also deals with issues of primary importance for companies and entities.

Specifically, one of the main innovations is the new definition of urban waste pursuant to letter b-ter of article 183 of Legislative Decree no. 152 of April 3rd, 2006, containing environmental legislation.

In the new year, the category of urban waste referred to in the amended art. 183, paragraph b-ter, point 2 of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006 will also include “undifferentiated waste and waste from separate collection from other sources that are similar in nature and composition to the household waste indicated in attachment L-quater produced by the activities indicated in attachment L-quinquies”. In particular, Annex L-quater lists the municipal waste that can be produced from sources other than households, while Annex L-quinquies lists the “other sources“, other than households, that can give rise to the production of municipal waste.

This is a different concept from that of urban waste by assimilation, provided for by art. 184, paragraph 2, letter b) of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006. Regarding the latter category, the State has been responsible for identifying the criteria for assimilating special non-hazardous waste with urban waste, for collection and disposal purposes. The methods for assimilation, in terms of quantity and quality, were assigned to the municipalities or to the optimal territorial ambits, thus enabling them (in the absence of the determination of criteria by the State) to identify the types of “assimilated” waste and to affect the extent of the public collection service. In this manner, the legislation recognized the possibility for Municipalities to specify which waste streams deriving from economic activities could be assimilated with urban waste.

The complex method described above was amended by the new wording of art. 183 of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006, which aimed to ensure the uniform application of classification criteria throughout the country. Such innovation is expected to have significant effects on the activities of numerous undertakings, which will be obliged, for the first time, to classify and manage their waste in a different way compared with how it was previously established by municipal regulations, which could also include very different procedures…

Not only that, but also public service managers may discover some critical issues. For example, with Resolution no. 4 of December 22nd, 2020, the National Register of Environmental Managers granted a moratorium to allow managers of the collection and transport of special non-hazardous waste to avoid stopping their activities following the entry into force of the new definition of urban waste from January 1. It is foreseen that “the subjects registered in categories 4 and 2-bis of the Register for the activity of collection and transport of special non-hazardous waste identified by the EER codes and by the descriptions contained in attachment L-quater produced by the activities reported in attachment L-quinquies, annexed to part IV of Legislative Decree no. 152 of April 3, 2006, may carry out the collection and transport of said waste if it becomes urban after December 31, 2020 until the definition of the methods of adjustment of the respective registration measures“.

In addition to the organization of waste management, this innovation may also have a significant impact on the application of the waste tariff, already affected by deep changes as a result of the approval of the new tariff method by ARERA with Resolution no. 443/2019/R/RIF of October 31st, 2019.

Guido Ajello

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti


Annalisa Di Ruzza

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti



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