ANCI Tuscany: Fostering the collection and disposal of electrical waste with Satellite Navigation

ANCI Tuscany

ANCI is the National Association of Italian Municipalities. ANCI Tuscany is the organisation in charge of enhancing the institutional, regulatory, financial and organisational autonomy of Municipalities in the Tuscany Region, and of representing the interests of Tuscan municipalities in their relationships with the Tuscany Region and the Italian Government.

ANCI offers consultancy, training and support to the Tuscan municipalities, collecting their instances and bringing them to the regional and national levels.

The challenge

The acronym WEEE indicates the waste of electrical and electronic equipment. Nowadays, the growing production of electronic equipment with an increasingly short lifecycle generates an ever growing amount of WEEE. These are not only composed of metals and plastics, but also contain heavy metals and substances which are particularly pollutant, threatening the environment and human health.

Even in regions like Tuscany, where waste separation is well spread, these materials often end up in the undifferentiated waste bin. Indeed, the general public has little knowledge of how to dispose of their electric waste. At the same time, public authorities know very little about the way they are disposed, while the companies dealing with the installation or distribution of electronic equipment are rarely involved in their collection.

The satellite solution

In 2017, with the objectives of fostering the collection and disposal of electronic waste and to sensitise private companies and citizens on the issue, ANCI Tuscany launched the LifeWeee project. The project is co-funded by LIFE Environmental Governance and Information, the European Commission’s financial instrument for the environment, and is implemented by ANCI Tuscany in collaboration with the Tuscany Region, the Department of Information Engineering and the Department of Civil Engineering of the University of Florence, the Trade Chambers of Tuscany and Seville (Spain), and Ecocerved Scarl. It aims at generating a behavioural change in the disposal of electronic equipment and at engaging private companies and public administrations in the design and implementation of an adequate WEEE’s collection system, as a first step towards the recycling of WEEE’s components.

Among other actions, the project partners developed a software to help companies managing the paperwork related to the transport of WEEE and to allow the collection of WEEE on their premises. Moreover, they developed the LifeWeee mobile App, geolocating all collection and disposal sites in Tuscany with satellite navigation.

When electronic devices end their lifecycle, their owners can localise the closest disposal site on the App and calculate the best itinerary to reach it. This is made possible by the satellite navigation system embedded into their mobile devices. The users can then select the kind and number of WEEE to be disposed within a list of items. The App will tell which materials will be recycled, the amount of CO2 saved thanks to the disposal and the number of corresponding kilometres by car.

The results

The App represents an important tool to engage citizens and private companies in the collection and disposal of WEEE in Tuscany and provides ANCI and all project partners with important information to better target policies aimed at managing electronic waste in Tuscany. For the time being, the App only includes disposal sites in the Tuscany region, but its geographical coverage could be extended to neighbouring regions and to the whole national territory. The App is available for free and will continue to exist after the completion of the LifeWeee project in August 2020. The Department of Information Engineering of the University of Florence will take care of updating the list of disposal points in the App.

As of today (April 2020), 423 collection points in the Tuscany Region and 224 collection points in Andalusia are recorded in the App.

Thanks to the LifeWeee App, residents can identify and reach the closest collection and disposal sites for WEEE, hence facilitating the work of public administrations and private companies to recycle the materials contained in electronic devices”, Rosa Schina, ANCI Tuscany