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Integrated Environmental Management in the tannery district of Chiampo Valley (Italy) (GIADA)
Start date: Feb 1, 2001, End date: Jan 31, 2004 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Background The Chiampo Valley, in the Vicenza Province, is an area comprising 17 towns and counting approximately 110 000 inhabitants. It specialises in the tannery industry and has about 800 factories, mostly small to medium-size family-run companies. It is the greatest tannery district in the EU. The tannery industry creates a high level of pollution, as normal and special wastes, water and air effluents are produced. It is estimated that more than 250 000 tons/year of solid waste, and around 16 000 tons/year of VOC are produced by the Chiampo district. Wastewater is purified by purification plants that have the capacity to purify water for 2 500 000 inhabitants (compared to the actual population of 110 000). The Sixth European Community Environment Action Programme seeks to encourage a wider take up of the Community's Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), especially by SME's. The project aimed to address these issues. Objectives The aim of the project was to improve the environmental impact of the tannery district of the Chiampo Valley. For this purpose, the project planned to implement an environmental management approach bringing in all interested parties, fostering the continuous improvement of industrial production, and contributing to environmentally-friendly policies integrated into the whole industrial production cycle. Foreseen actions were: 1) To carry out preparatory actions promoting the adoption of EMAS by SMEs. With the voluntary adoption of EMAS, local enterprises will have to comply with limits lower than those presently set by law; 2) To set up a local Environmental Agency, for environmental planning and control through integrated local public administration policy; 3) To demonstrate the feasibility of a method integrating sustainability with environmental management. 4) To conduct a study/survey of the area, with a view to matching up problems with real data and to establish a landmark for subsequent activities. The expected results were: 1) Reduced air pollution from VOC; 2) Obtain the sustainable use of water resources; 3) Improved system management of industrial wastes; 4) Fewer conflicts over territorial environmental management and easier implementation of adopted policies, resulting from set up of the Agency; 5) Improved accessibility and accountability of environmental policy; 6) Increased SME compliance with EMAS regulation. Results A Local Environmental Agency has been created by subscription to the related Convention by the public bodies involved. All tannery businesses have been informed about the agency as a basis for greater transparency of environmental policy. The main reason for the new approach by businesses is that the province has tailored the BAT NEEC for the tannery industry and implemented an efficient enviromental management system that uses the most advanced tools for environmental monitoring and policymaking. The tools are: - Defined environmental indicators in the most important areas, such as solvent consumptions, VOC level in the atmosphere, smell in the air, H2S concentration, etc. (all indicators have been validated by interviews with the population through more than 40 000 questionnaires distributed) - Creation of thematic maps by special SW developed by ENEA, one of the partners - Environmental policy definition - Initial environmental analysis in order to apply the policy to real situations - An analysis of the existing tannery plants in order to assess the main environmental problems - Defining the BAT NEEC for the district's plants and of their targets - Definition of some suggestions with the BATTER method - Defining the district's EMS (Environmental Management System) - More accurate definition of the environmental outputs. The above mentioned agency is devoted to developing and applying the environmental management system and policy. These actions have resulted in direct environmental benefits, in particular: - A 28 percent VOC reduction in spite of growth of 17 percent in leather treatment - Decrease of the average concentration of chlorides in water discharged from tanneries - Better utilisation of landfill for special wastes with the disposal of dried mud. But the main result of the project is the potential environmental improvement arising from the creation of the Local Environmental Agency and because of the environmental management system implemented. Further developments arising from the project are expected in the future. This project has been selected as one of the 24 "Best" LIFE Environment projects in 2004-2005

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