All companies must comply with a set of mandatory environmental protection requirements. For more complex projects (e.g. the construction of infrastructure or large industrial plants) complex environmental assessments are envisaged, while small and medium-sized enterprises are generally subject to simple authorisations.
Environmental assessments give wide discretion to the competent authorities: the granting of the authorisation of a work is not linked to mere compliance with all environmental standards, but it also provides for the evaluation of costs and benefits not only from an economic point of view, but also from an environmental, social and cultural point of view.
On the other hand, environmental requirements for SMEs concern a wider audience: production and transport of waste, waste discharge permits, emissions into the atmosphere and noise impact. These requirements, unlike environmental assessments, are not discretionary: it is sufficient to ensure compliance with the legal parameters for obtaining permits. These obligations are largely unified in the Single Environmental Authorization (A.U.A.), which is valid for 15 years. Among the main authorizations in A.U.A. we find:
• water discharge authorization;
• air emissions permit;
• acoustic impact;
• permit for waste treatment with simplified procedures;
• agronomic utilization of livestock waste and vegetable water from oil mills;
• use of sludge in agriculture.
In addition, there will be further steps to clean up contaminated sites and produce waste.
Soil protection and remediation of contaminated sites
The release of pollutants can contaminate soil, subsoil and surface and groundwater. Pollution may be due to a single event, such as an accident with release of hazardous substances, or continuous over time due to the concentration in the same area of activities which are particularly polluting or which adopt practices that are insufficient to protect the environment. When soil or subsoil (and associated water) pollution occurs, it is called contamination. When in the site occurs a potentially polluting event, the polluter puts in place within 24 hours, at his own expense, the necessary prevention measures and communicates the fact to the Municipality, the Province, the Region and the Prefect. The timing of prevention and communication to the competent authorities is of paramount importance.
The production of waste
Regarding waste, the legislation defines as waste any object or substance that the holder discards, because he has decided to discard or is obliged to. Some companies have the obligation of the so-called "environmental accounting", composed of:
• keeping of the waste loading and unloading register (which must be endorsed by the competent CCIAA prior to use);
• maintenance of waste identification forms (waste transport document, also endorsed by the CCIAA or the Revenue Agency);
• annual MUD declaration expiring on 30 April, which summarises the handling of waste carried out in the previous year.
To learn more, consult: environmental compliance, the case of an SME.