Bin there, done that: Vatican making great strides in recycling


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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Surrounded by a city that just started a pilot recycling program in one small neighborhood, the Vatican's efforts to separate and recycle its garbage reportedly are making great strides.

"It is new, but it is moving forward seriously," said Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary of the office governing Vatican City State.

"It has been difficult because it is a matter of education and of a certain culture and we were starting from zero," he said in late May, about 18 months after the Vatican started systematically sorting its trash and just three months after the city of Rome began doing so in the Trastevere neighborhood.

Since the beginning of 2008, the Vatican has designated 42 percent of its industrial-size trash collection containers to recyclables.

The little city-state's roads and alleys are dotted with 120 containers for generic trash, 30 containers for paper, 25 for glass, 18 for plastic and 15 for aluminum and tin cans, said Elio Cortellessa, the Vatican gardener in charge of garbage collection.

In January, the Vatican newspaper interviewed Cortellessa and emphasized the fact that with the gardeners overseeing the trash pickup, care for the natural environment is a priority.

In fact, much of the material the Vatican recycles each year consists of garden waste -- pine cones, needles, leaves, palm fronds and grass clippings. Gardens and lawns cover almost half of the Vatican's 108 acres.