Most of Terna's waste is recovered to be sent for production recycling. Only some residues are sent to the dump and therefore have an environmental impact. 81% of waste was recovered in 2012 (83% in 2011, 89% in 2010).

Like the resources used, waste is connected mainly with the modernisation and maintenance of the electricity infrastructure. These activities depend on technical considerations regarding the security and efficiency of the system. The quantity of waste may therefore change, even significantly, from year to year.

As far as the percentage of waste recycled is concerned, according to the Environmental Policy adopted by Terna, the recovery of materials is the first option to be assessed and pursued if possible. However, actual recycling depends on the materials which make up the waste. Some materials can easily be separated and consequently recycled (for example the steel parts of pylons); however, in some cases, it is impossible or too costly to separate the parts, especially for equipment purchased some years ago. For these reasons the annual changes in the percentage of waste recycled must not be interpreted as representing a trend.


2012 2011 2010
Waste produced (1) 6,208.1 7,198.1 5,515.9
of which hazardous 3,297.4 3,887.3 3,013.3
of which non-hazardous  2,910.7 3,310.8 2,502.6
Recycled waste 5,015.5 5,997.3 4,912.8
of which hazardous 3,064.9 3,380.1 2,849.5
of which non-hazardous  1,950.6 2,617.2 2,063.3
Waste sent for disposal (2) 1,080.4 1,153.3 626.4
of which hazardous 215.6 450.8 191.5
of which non-hazardous  864.8 702.5 435.0
(1) Includes only specific waste from the production process, not that produced by service activities (urban waste). Up to 2010 waste belonging to the categories of earth and rocks from excavations and slurry produced was excluded because it has – above all in the case of significant quantities – exceptional characteristics associated with the construction of particular civil works in stations and would make the data series non-uniform. The figure for earth and rocks from excavations and slurry was 1,541 tonnes in 2010. From 2011, only waste relating to slurry produced was excluded because the category earth and rocks from excavations is no longer significant; the amount of slurry was 610 tonnes for 2012 and 675 tonnes for 2011. (2) Waste sent for disposal may differ from a simple difference between waste produced and recovered owing to the temporary storage of waste from one year to the next.

The main non-hazardous special waste produced by Terna’s operating activities consists of:

  • metal waste (which accounts for more than 50% of the total of non-hazardous waste produced), deriving from the decommissioning of transformers, electrical equipment and machinery(for example, generators) no longer used, more than 96% of which is recycled;
  • wood, deriving mainly from the packaging of the materials purchased, about 90% of which is recycled.

The main hazardous special waste produced by Terna’s operating activities consists of:

  • metal waste (which accounts for more than 70% of the total of hazardous waste produced) deriving from the decommissioning of transformers, electrical equipment and machinery no longer used andcontaminated by hazardous substances,more than 95% of which is recycled, after treatment by third parties;
  • batteries (lead and nickel), which in the event of blackouts enable emergency generators to be turned on to keep the service of electricity transformation and transportation operating during emergencies, 100% of which is recycled;
  • dielectric oils (which account for more than 20% of total hazardous waste) for the insulation of transformers replaced following the regular checks carried out for transformer maintenance and which are hazardous waste, around 100% of which is recycled. This percentage falls to 89% when oily emulsions and dregs from collection tanks mixed with rainwater are included, substances which are hard to recycle.

Waste sent for disposal consists mainly of materials used in the maintenance and cleaning of plants (mud, oily emulsions, and rags containing oils and solvents) and insulating materials containing asbestos for which no kind of recycling is available. All these items together account for less than 70% of the total destined for disposal (for the details of the quantity and types see the Tables of indicators).

Production of waste: comparative data

The comparison of Terna with other companies as regards waste was conducted by taking both total production and pro capita production in cubic metres as reference points.

The figures of the transmission companies (TSO panel), as well as of the bigger listed Italian companies (FTSE-MIB) and of the international sustainability leaders (SM-Supersector Leaders) were taken into consideration.

The figures - both absolute and pro capita - show substantial non-comparability, in that they reflect differences in the type of business performed, and therefore in the generation of waste in the production processes, as well as the size of the companies, not necessarily reflected by the number of employees. The highest pro capita figure is for Enel, while the lowest is for Banca Intesa Sanpaolo (both belonging to the FTSE-MIB panel).

Despite the intrinsic limitations of the comparison and in the absence of more effective normalisation factors than the number of employees, it was deemed in any case of interest to present the main figures on waste production. Such figures, while unsuitable for being interpreted as a reflection of the various companies' performance in limiting environmental impact do at least provide an indication of the importance of waste, and therefore of its practical importance in terms of sustainability in the various sectors and various companies.

In 2012 Terna produced a total of 6,208.1 tonnes of waste. Waste production per employee was 1.8 tonnes, a decrease from 2011, the year for which comparative figures are available (7,198.1 tonnes total and 2.1 tonnes pro capita).

TSO Panel: 13 figures available;

  • Total waste production – tonnes: average 222,711.8; minimum value 41.9 (ISA – Latin America); maximum value 1,700,000.0 (National Grid – UK).
  • Pro capita waste production – tonnes: average 12.3; minimum value 0.1 (ISA – Latin America); maximum value 73.3 (National Grid – UK).

In this comparison Terna comes out below the average, greatly influenced by some transmission operators who also own electricity generation businesses.

FTSE-MIB Panel: 24 figures available;

  • Total waste production – tonnes: average 691,932.9; minimum value 676.2 (Ansaldo); maximum value 11,639,212.0 (ENEL);
  • Pro capita waste production – tonnes: average 12.1; minimum value 0.04 (Banca Intesa Sanpaolo); maximum value 154.4 (ENEL).

Compared to the listed companies in the FTSE-MIB, Terna comes out below average, with values comparable to those of service companies.

RobecoSAM Panel Supersector Leaders: 18 figures available;

  • Total waste production– tonnes: average 273,607.0; minimum value 106.0 (Telenet, Belgian company operating in the media sector); maximum value 1,495,500.0 (UPM, Finnish company operating in the forestry and paper manufacturing sector).
  • Pro capita waste production– tonnes: average 14.8; minimum value 0.1 (Telenet, Belgian company operating in the media sector); maximum value 93.8 (GPT Group, Australian real estate company).

Compared to worldwide sustainability best practices, Terna is well below average for waste production. The figure is strongly influenced by the extreme variety of the sectors considered, some of which produce large quantities of waste.

The extreme variability of the company figures makes a graphic representation of little significance; the table shows the minimum, average and maximum values and the standard deviation in the three panels considered.

Production of waste -2010
TSO FTSE-MIB RobecoSAM - Supersector Leaders
t t/employee t t/employee t t/employee
Average 222,711.8 12.3 691,932.9 12.1 273,607.0 14.8
Max 1,880,000.0 73.3 11,639,212.0 154.4 1,495,500.0 93.8
Min 41.9 0.1 676.2 0.04 106.0 0.1
Standard deviation 523,264.1 20.6 2,375,283.4 33.5 388,056.0 27.3
Terna 7,198.1 2.1 7,198.1 2.1 7,198.1 2.1
Wherever not directly available the pro capita waste production figure was obtained by dividing the total amount of waste produced by the number of employees.

Disposal of equipment containing oils with PCBs


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used all over the world as insulators in transformers and other electronic equipment, because they were a good alternative to inflammable mineral oils. However, studies subsequently showed that PCB is extraordinarily bio-resistant and can thus have dangerous effects on living organisms.

Italian Legislative Decree 209/99, the CEI 10-38 standard, the Ministry of the Environment Guidelines and Community Law 62/05 introduced an obligation to declare the quantity of oils contaminated by PCBs possessed, and established the methods and times for disposal.

In compliance with this rule, Terna implemented a disposal programme, setting itself objectives in advance of the legal deadlines. Already and since 2009, there are no longer devices containing oils with PCBs at more than 500 ppm; for oils contaminated by PCBs with concentrations equal to or less than 500 ppm and more than 50 ppm the plan envisaged a reduction in the quantity to less than 20,000 kg for 2010. The result obtained (11,766 kg), is an improvement over the target and in practice completes the accelerated disposal programme. In 2011 and 2012 there were further reductions in the amounts present in Terna's equipment. Residual oil is present in small quantities in a large number of devices, which will be used until the end of their useful lives, as permitted by the law, owing to the excessive cost of replacing them in advance.


kg of oil
PCB concentration
2012 2011 2010 (1)
PCB > 500 ppm 0 0 0
 50 ppm < PCB < 500 ppm 3,810 7,616 11,766
(1) The figure (8,266 kg) published in the 2010 Sustainability Report was corrected with the figure shown in the table (11,766) on the basis of evidence that emerged after publication.