Garbage (or rifiuti) is always a contentious subject in Italy. Over the last twenty years, there has been much progress made in convincing people and towns to engage in recycling. But old habits die hard, and even for towns that want to recycle, it is difficult to make the economics work out. Moreover, it is generally hard to find places to put garbage now that countries like China no longer want to be the West’s garbage dump, and since the burning heaps of other folks’ garbage in the South of Italy have started to receive scrutiny.

Garbage services are paid for through the TARI tax, which itself is based on the size of your dwelling (for residential spaces). Every Comune seems to have a slightly system, and the tax rate varies a lot. We describe here the garbage/recycling system used in Ascoli Piceno.

Once a year, you are allocated a pile of large plastic bags emblazoned with the city emblem: white for paper; yellow for plastic; light brown for umido (organic waste); blue for diapers; and gray for secco (everything else). There is a schedule for putting these bags, with appropriate content, outside the doors of your dwelling after 9p the night before pickup: Monday, Thursday, Saturday for umido; Tuesday for paper; Wednesday for plastic; Friday for secco; and diapers on any of the above days. A small plastic bin (or a larger communal bin for each condominium building) is provided in which to put the umido bags (which tend fall apart easily). Watch out for holidays (there are many in Italy) when there isn’t pickup, especially around Christmas and New Years. There is an isola ecologica (a dump) close to the city center for stuff that just can’t wait. Glass and metals are supposed to go in large bins on located around the Centro.

Unfortunately, not everyone gets the message. Some don’t want to pay the TARI, and thus leave their rifiuti wherever they can. Others refuse to follow the set schedule and put stuff out to moulder when they feel like it. Still others just dump all their garbage in and around the glass/metals bins. Don’t be like any of these folks.