Criminals "thriving" on Italian waste

Parliamentary report finds one-third of waste disposal controlled by "eco-Mafia"

Organised crime networks now control some 32% of Italy's waste disposal business in a lucrative racket worth around euros 7.75bn (IL15 trillion) per year. The racket increasingly extends to all phases of the waste cycle and has spread from its traditional southern terrain to northern Italy, according to a parliamentary study released last week.

Published by the parliamentary committee on waste disposal and connected illegal activities, the report concludes that the so-called "eco-mafia" runs companies dealing with 35m tonnes of waste per year out of total arisings of 110m tonnes.

Urban solid waste disposal is clearly in the grip of organised crime, the report says, particularly the collection and transport phases of the cycle. "Clear evidence exists that organised criminal groups are competing for local government and company waste disposal tenders," it states. Industrial waste disposal, meanwhile, is providing a route for organised criminal gangs in Italy's south to expand their activities northwards.

An extremely lucrative business is being helped by private companies and by the state, for whom "the lowest common denominator is the quest to find the cheapest method of waste disposal, with no control over its final destination," the report stresses, adding that some refuse is ending up in caves, waterways and even buried on farmland.

The report also reveals overseas routes for illegal waste, especially to Somalia, the former Spanish Sahara and Mozambique, often in "arms for waste disposal" deals. Radioactive waste from Italy dumped in Somalia may have affected Italian soldiers sent there with a United Nationas force in the mid-1990s, it notes.

Follow Up:
Italian parliament (Chamber of Deputies), tel: +39 67 60 25 21.

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