So, what has been done?

So, we are coming up to the end of this series of blog, but I am sure that you understand the complexities of Naples and its waste crisis by now. As Moore (2009: 4) stated, waste disposal is not a “technical issue, but a political one”. This quote encapsulates Naples’ problem, and that is the immense power, control, and authority held by the Camorra (Cantoni 2016). As you have read, the Camorra have been able to trash the city without much being done, but has the situation gone unnoticed? The answer would be no, the government has attempted to address this problem, but their measures have arguably been ineffective. So, what exactly has the government done? 

What measures have been put in place?
Under Prime Minister Prodi’s government, a former police chief was appointed as the ‘trash tsar’ to tackle Naples’ waste problem (Reuters 2008). Under the ‘tsar’s’ authority, there were calls for waste to be processed in neighbouring countries, as Italy had completely lost control of the situation. Henceforth, between 2003 and 2006, backlogged waste was regularly transported by train to a waste disposal plant in Großpösna, Germany (Speigel 2010; Lamboglia et al. 2018). Arguably, this call for help by the Italian government signified the sheer seriousness of this issue. However, many also argue this call for help marked the government’s recognition of the issue, as it was believed the government would do little to solve this issue in the poverty-stricken south (Greyl et al. 2013).

The export of waste is common in today’s world, especially in small countries where waste cannot be treated domestically. However, as a country with ample money, technology and human resources, the export of waste has arguably been a reflection of Italy’s failures to solve its situation. Under Berlusconi’s presidency, several incinerators were also constructed in Naples, including one of Europe’s largest incinerators in Accera (Ahmed et al. 2009). As stated in my earlier blog entry, the Acerra incinerator, built in 2009, can burn over 600,000 tons of waste annually (Ibid 2009). However, critics have argued that the sheer backlog of waste in Naples cannot be processed with just with the incinerators available in Italy, let alone processing the waste produced daily (D’Amato et al. 2015). As a result, the Italian government have been forced to rely upon regional neighbours like Germany to treat its waste and maintain domestic stability.

President Silvio Berlusconi picking up litter from the streets of Naples in 2008 (photo courtesy of Vice News 2013

To conclude, Naples’ response to the waste crisis has arguably been ineffective for various reasons. What has been Naples’ key issue, is that the city has approached the waste crisis’s externalities, such as its implication on foodwaterand air quality. Instead for Naples, the city must approach the root cause of its waste crisis as a way to clear the streets of trash. Perhaps a crucial aspect that Naples has forgotten is recycling. If cities in Europe like London, Madrid and Paris, and other Italian cities, can manage their waste affairs even with higher populations, what makes it so tricky for Naples? Indeed, a city in a G7 country can figure something out. Right? 

References: (8)

Ahmed, M., Scerbo M., Izzo, P., Parrilli, M., Coccia, F.,Ganga, V. & Anilir, S. (2009) ‘A Community-based Waste Management System for the Historic Centre of Naples’. Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering, 8:2, 363-370 

Cantoni, R. (2016) ‘The waste crisis in Campania, South Italy: a historical perspective on an epidemiological controversy.’ Endeavour, 40:2, 102-113

D’Amato, A., Mazzanti, M. and Nicolli, F. (2015) ‘Waste and organised crime in regional environments: how waste tariffs and the mafia affect waste management and disposal.’ Resource and Energy Economies, 41, 185-201

Greyl, L. Vengi, S., Natalicchio, M., Cure, S. and Ferretti, J. (2013) ‘The waste crisis in Campania, Italy.’ Ecological Economies from the Ground Up, 273-308

Lamboglia, R., Fiorentino, R., Mancini, D., Garzella, S. (2018) ‘From a garbage crisis to sustainability strategies: the case study of Naples’ waste collection firm.’ Journal of Cleaner Production, 186, 726-735

Moore, S. (2009) ‘The excess of modernity: garbage politics in Oaxaca, Mexico.’ The Professional Geographer, 61:4, 426-437

Reuters (2008) ‘Italy “trash tsar” takes charge of Naples crisis.’ (WWW) Toronto: Reuters (, Accessed, 25 November 2020)

Spiegel International (2010) ‘How the mafia helped send Italy’s trash to Germany.’ (WWW) (, Accessed: 25 November 2020)

2 thoughts on “So, what has been done?

  1. I liked how you shifted the focus towards what is being done to address the issue of waste management in Naples. You asked some important questions and it was great to here the role of Italy’s central government in trying to solve the problem. It would be interesting to know why Naples has not embraced recycling in the same way other major European cities have. Maybe this simply a matter of cost and lack of political will or there could be more practical challenges associated with the city’s political ecologies. These posts have made for some great reading so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Arun. It’s very complicated in Naples. It’s a relatively poor city in Europe and some may even say ‘backwards’. I think the lack of recycling comes down to the corruption that I stated earlier. As the Camorra owns much of the waste industry in Naples, they do what they want. Recycling obviously would be make waste disposal and management a whole lot stricter, hence trashing the streets and forests is a lot more effective for the Camorra. As they say in Italy, ‘la mafia controlla l’italia’, and this is why the south of Italy has seen such little progress.


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