The Context

When landfilled, waste has negative environmental impacts. The revised Waste Framework Directive (updated in 2018 as part of the Circular Economy Package) sets new targets on municipal waste:

  • 65% in weight of preparing for reuse and recycling by 2035;
  • maximum 10% sent to landfill by 2035.


While many areas in Europe are below this target, there are many municipalities that boast separate collection rates as high as 80-85%. In these municipalities the governance model used played a key role in their success: key to this are innovative incentive schemes such as “Pay-as-you-throw” (PAYT), which is based on the polluter-pays principle.

PAYT is, thus far, one of the most effective ways to increase recycling. But in southern Europe only a handful of municipalities are using this scheme. The result is that more than 90% of users (citizens and companies) pay a waste fee that does not reflect their actual waste generation. This hampers better waste separation and recycling.

Why is this happening?

There is a lack of clear guidance and internal resources to implement the PAYT scheme and to manage the huge amount of data related to it, economic uncertainties, lack of knowledge about the best technologies to support the shift to PAYT, and uncertainty about waste producers response.

What is Life

The REthinkWASTE project, which received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union, will be carried on in 2019-2022 with the main objective to endow public authorities with a “plug and play” model based on “Pay-as-you-throw” (PAYT) and “Know-as-you-throw” (KAYT) approach.

The latter is an innovative knowledge and persuasion-driven approach that uses big data to nudge waste producers by giving them individual, detailed and frequent feedback, combining technology, one-to-one meetings, and various economic and/or social benefits.

€ 2,764,715

UE contribution:
€ 1,520,588
July 2019 – June 2022

The goal is to increase the separate collection of waste, reduce residual waste per capita and boost the recovery rate, whilst simultaneously cutting the average household waste bill.

Ambitious, isn’t it?
We have a plan for it though. By rethinking waste management plans and other management/normative drivers (e.g., regulations, financial plans, and service contracts), we believe that this is achievable.


The projects specific objectives are to:

• test the concept of KAYT (know-as-you-throw) in seven pilot areas (municipality of Bassano del Grappa managed by the public company ETRA S.p.A., North of Italy; municipality of Bitetto, South of Italy; municipality of Varese, North of Italy; municipalities of Sant Just Desvern, Santa Elulàlia de Ronçana, Cardedeu and El Brull, in Catalunya, Spain), side by side with the PAYT approach;

• incorporate the PAYT and KAYT paradigm within the municipal waste management regulations of the four pilot sites, with the final goals of: (a) reducing the yearly quantity of unsorted waste produced, and (b) increasing the tariff spread between virtuous and underperforming citizens, thus increasing the fairness in service tariff;

• run LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) and LCC (Life-Cycle Cost Analysis) that will help Pilot Areas to assess the environmental footprint of the new waste regulations including PAYT-KAYT;

• provide about 230 municipalities in the EU with customizable waste strategies, service schemes and business plans to trigger a change in mindset among policy-makers and civil officials, which will in turn spark a shift from a traditional tariff system to a variable one (PAYT), combined with a pioneering informative and persuasion approach (KAYT).

Through these, the project will contribute to achieve the goals of the Waste Framework Directive and the EU circular economy action plan, since it will promote the prevention, reuse and recycling of waste.

Yearly quantity
of unsorted
waste produced
Quality of
waste sorted
Fairness in
service tariff
Citizens’ engagement
to environmental

What we expect to achieve

  • About 67 municipalities committed to make a full transition, integrate or revise their current waste management/financial plans and regulations towards the PAYT-KAYT paradigm by 2022;
  • 30% reduction in the tonnes/year of residual waste for those cities that adopt the PAYT-KAYT approach by 2022;
  • up to 20% reduction (on average for the pilot cities implementing PAYT) in variable waste tax related to waste generation;
  • 510.000 citizens reached by the project, of which roughly 20.000 participating in the KAYT scheme;
  • 3 regulatory packages (regional/local waste management guidelines) issued for municipalities in the regions of Veneto and Catalonia and for Ancona province, to facilitate their transition to the PAYT tariff system;
  • knowledge shared with 50 Italian municipalities through 150 days of coaching, and with 130 municipalities in Veneto, Marche and Catalonia regions, through 2 to 3 days of coaching and technical screening;
  • 5 EU regions and 50 municipalities (mainly in the Mediterranean and south-east Europe) receiving support for revision of their waste tariff systems, through 50 days of coaching.

Who we are

The LIFE – REthinkWASTE Consortium is made up of 11 partners from 4 European countries (Italy, Spain, Belgium and Denmark).


Etra SpA

Etra is a public company (total public property) which deals mainly with integrated water supply, waste management and renewable energy services. It is one of main multi-utility company of Veneto region: its clients for waste management services are 64 Municipalities of Padova and Vicenza provinces (in all more than 500,000 inhabitants). Thanks to innovative solutions, the management of the whole chain and a strong commitment in communicating to all stakeholders Etra is able to achieve excellent results in terms of recovery and recycling. Etra introduced PAYT system since 2006 and currently there are 43 municipalities applying PAYT, with excellent results in terms of separate collection (over 76% on average in 2018).

Agenzia Regionale per la Prevenzione e Protezione Ambientale del Veneto (ARPAV)

ARPAV is an operational body of Veneto Region for its planning activity and for all environmental issues. The main goal of the Agency is to control and preserve the environment in order to help the identification and elimination of human and environmental risks. ARPAV Waste Regional Observatory is the regional reference body regarding waste prevention and management and related items, especially for data collection and planning strategies of the sector.

ARS ambiente srl

ARS is a consultancy supporting public entities and private companies in implementing environmentally sound waste management schemes, especially focusing on separate collection and treatment of organic waste and Pay-As You-Throw schemes. It helps local governments such as Regions, Provinces and Municipalities to develop waste management master plans and implement new actions aimed at improving the quality and quantity of source separated streams of waste. To achieve this, ARS provides its expertise in waste data processing and visualization, combined with direct contacts with a wide dataset of best practices at European and international level.

Assemblea Territoriale d’Ambito ATO 2 Ancona (ATA)

ATA is a public body born from the association between the Municipalities of the Province of Ancona (in Marche Region) and the Province itself. Its main goal is the management of the integrated cycle of urban waste and of the related tariff.

Comune di Bitetto

Bitetto is a medium-size city of Puglia region of about 12,000 inhabitants. At the end of 2016 Bitetto’s service company implemented a system based on RFID technology for measuring the waste collection, that in 2019 led to achieve the stunning result of 78% of waste separate collection rate. In December 2019 the Municipality approved the new PAYT-KAYT regulation. The main objective of the Municipality now is to test the “Know-as-you-throw” (KAYT) approach and to integrate it with the PAYT system already in use, in order to improve the already remarkable performance in terms of separate collection % and to make citizens aware of the KAYT model.

Comune di Varese

Varese is a city of Lombardia region of more than 80,000 inhabitants. In 2019 Varese achieved a result of 69% of separate collection of waste. The objective of the Municipality is to introduce PAYT within a couple of years; before that, the idea is to test the “Know-as-you-throw” (KAYT) approach within the REthinkWASTE project in order to verify the potential results attainable through an intensive communication campaign.

Istituto per la finanza e l’economia locale (IFEL)

IFEL is a Foundation established in 2006 by the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI). Its main goal is to assist Municipalities in matter of finance and local economy. As a reference structure for the systematic collection, processing and dissemination of data related to local taxes, the Foundation operates as a research and training body through the production of studies, analyses and proposals for regulatory innovation to satisfy the requests of Municipalities and citizens. Since 2017 IFEL has promoted the knowledge of Municipalities about PAYT system through free webinars, seminars, workshops and publications.


Agència de Residus de Catalunya (ARC)

ARC is the competent authority for waste management in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. Its main objectives regarding municipal waste are the promotion of the prevention, the separate collection and recovery as well as the development of planning instruments and legal dispositions for the management of municipal waste. The ARC has applied financial instruments discouraging waste generation and disposal of municipal waste to landfill and incineration for years, starting with the implementation of a disposal tax in 2003 and incorporating the promotion of PAYT systems as a transversal action in the Municipal Waste Management Program 2007-2012.

Ajuntament de Sant Just Desvern

Sant Just Desvern is a town of Catalonia located near Barcelona with a population of 18.670 inhabitants (2020). The city is developing an innovative waste management model in which biowaste and residual waste containers will be locked, being necessary to get a user’s identification card to open them. This action is aimed at increasing the municipal collection waste rates and stimulate people to a better behaviour related with waste management. All data collected will be used to assess the waste service and at the same time to raise citizen’s awareness. This last goal will be achieved by the implementation of the “Know-as-you-throw” (KAYT) approach using a rewarding scheme with discounts at local businesses.


Association of Cities and Regions for Sustainable Resource Management (ACR+)

ACR+ is an international network of cities and regions sharing the aim of promoting a sustainable resource management, through prevention at source, reuse and recycling, and accelerating the transition towards a circular economy on their territories and beyond. Through its activities, ACR+ strives to develop the expertise and skills of public authorities in effective waste-product-resource policies, as well as encourage practical action. The association provides support to regional and local authorities in their new challenges and promotes cooperation and partnership to develop eco-efficient solutions.


2.-0 LCA consultants ApS

2.-0 LCA is an internationally oriented consultancy company dedicated to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and related tools such as Integrated Product Management. Past and current activities include EU projects on standards for LCA data and input to the EU resources strategy, national and international projects on database development, prioritisation within the Integrated Product Policy, analysis of product policy options, development of life cycle assessment methodology, as well as specific LCAs and reviews for European industry associations and international companies. The company currently has workers in Denmark, The Netherlands and Spain.

Networking activities

Projects with which networking agreements have benne signed.

Life Foster

The LIFE FOSTER project aims to reduce food waste in the restaurant and catering industry, a sector responsible for 12% of all food wasted.
LIFE FOSTER promotes direct and indirect actions to raise awareness of the problem of food waste and proper food storage.
The project has been promoted in France, Italy, Malta, Spain.
The main objectives of the project are:

  1. Raise awareness on food waste in catering and spread the application of more sustainable practices to prevent and reduce it+
  2. To provide training for students and teachers, as well as catering professionals (kitchen and dining room staff) about the adoption of more sustainable practices
  3. Raise awareness among political institutions about the need to adopt appropriate action and tools to prevent and reduce food waste


CIRCWASTE is a seven-year LIFE IP project that promotes efficient use of material flows, waste prevention and new waste and resource management concepts.  The project is implemented during the years 2016–2023. All actions contribute to implementing the national waste management plan and directing Finland towards a circular economy. CIRCWASTE is a creation of 20 partners and 10 funding organisations. The project is coordinated by the Finnish Environment Institute. CIRCWASTE is funded in large part by the EU LIFE programme.

Nearly 20 pilot projects to improve resource efficiency: actions that bring concrete results such as decreasing the amount of waste or used material flows, setting up new equipment or intelligent management systems and creating new practices and strategies.

Catalysing regional action, relevant regional stakeholders involved in cooperation groups to implement the national waste management plan at a regional level.

Expert counselling on circular economy, a network with the Finnish Environment Institute to provide expert services and spread information on successful solutions, included a database of good practice of circular economy.


The FOOD PRINT project partners from Cyprus have the aim to raise awareness on the scale of the food waste problem in the hospitality and food industries as well as among consumers.
The project’s actions are targeted to inform on sustainable solutions and practices to possibly prevent and reduce food waste through their application. Also, through the training of professionals and students of the food and hospitality industry, promoting sustainable practices for food waste reduction and prevention.
Furthermore, the project supported the collaboration between actors of the food supply chain and social care to donate supplementary food. In addition, the involvement of policy makers stimulated the promotion of food waste prevention and reduction policies.