Rome residents told to cut back on Christmas wrapping amid waste crisis

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Residents of Rome have been urged to curtail their use of Christmas wrapping paper as authorities in the Italian capital struggle with the perennial problem of waste collection.

The city’s new leaders are under pressure to fulfil their promise to clean up the streets by Christmas and, alongside the wrapping paper appeal, are paying rubbish collectors a bonus to head off seasonal absenteeism.

Sabrina Alfonsi, councillor for the environment, told Il Messaggero that the issue of wrapping paper and packaging was “no joke”.

“As an administration we have taken all the possible actions to improve [waste] collection and to find new outlets for the rubbish that is produced in Rome,” she said. “Christmas is a particularly complicated period, especially for parcels. The production of waste is growing, when instead it must decrease.”

Alfonsi stressed that reducing the use of wrapping paper did not mean giving fewer gifts, but said citizens needed to play their part in helping to keep the city clean.

The councillor was forced to clarify her comments after they generated some criticism on social media, with some people saying her suggestion was a simplistic way of trying to resolve Rome’s rubbish problems and that having fewer Christmas parcels wouldn’t make a difference.

“There is no initiative on behalf of the council to reduce Christmas parcels,” she told the news agency Ansa. “This is a problem that concerns packaging, which is a problem not only for Rome but the whole of Europe.”

She said packaging mostly concerns companies and distribution and that reducing its use was a key component in the city’s overall waste management plan, which included building new waste disposal plants.

Photo – Performance of the Fanfare of the Carabinieri for the lighting of the Christmas tree on Piazza San Lorenzo square in Lucina, in Rome, Italy. EPA-EFE/Giuseppe Lami

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