Italy's infamous cassonetti, the large rubbish bins that seem to litter the streets of its towns and cities, may soon be a thing of the past. Many councils have adopted a system of door-to-door refuse collection, involving separate bags for recycling refuse such as paper, plastic, cardboard and glass. Presently 21.5 per cent of the refuse collected in Italy is separated, and the target for the end of 2005 is 35 per cent. Some local authorities, particularly in smaller communities of under 5,000 inhabitants, have managed to raise that to 80 per cent. Despite the positive news, less than half of all town and city councils manages to separate a quarter or more of its refuse. A recent survey by Nuova Energia found that 96 per cent of Italians were in favour of separating and recycling their rubbish but that

very few actually made the effort (30 per cent in northern Italy, 15 per cent in the centre, and less than 7 per cent in the south).

Progress is particularly slow in the big cities where old habits seem most resistant to change. While there have been some successes, such as the door-to-door collection service provided in most parts of Rome's historic centre, Italy's cassonetti are likely to remain a feature of daily life for a little longer still.