Concluding Thoughts

To conclude, Naples’ situation is incredibly complex. In short, poor governance in Naples and widespread corruption in Italian society has meant that the Camorra have been able to control the flows of waste into Naples. By applying a UPE lens, this blog showed how single a broken metabolic link can have drastic impacts on the flows of ‘stuff’ like water, air and food. Without a UPE lens, I would likely have missed Naples’ bigger picture, especially when exploring flows like air or ideas like environmental (in)justice. Like many other cities, Naples had only noticed the waste crisis when it became a visible problem, with waste filling the streets. Treating waste may seem like a simple issue; however, as Moore (2009) stated, “waste is political”, which could not be further from Naples’s truth.   

So, what should Naples do?
Finding a solution to Naples’ waste crisis is not easy. For any other city, it would not be as complicated as Naples, but due to the monopoly of the Camorra and widespread corruption, devising a solution has proved difficult. Reflecting on the literature, I have read and what I have written thus far, little has been said about recycling. Naples has focused on treating the waste that flows through the city. There are perhaps two sides to solving this problem. Firstly, Naples needs to reduce waste production by increasing recycling discourse amongst Neapolitans, such as composting and reusing before a product is thrown away. The other solution comes in tackling corruption and reinstating government control which is a priority of Naples. Undeniably, corruption has been a critical source of this problem, as environmental laws have been disregarded, allowing toxic waste to fill the streets and forests of Naples. Therefore, Naples must first tackle corruption, subsequently diverting waste from the streets, to somewhere it can be treated appropriately. Reinstating government control is also imperative as more robust policy can ensure that the correct type of waste is disposed of. It was never a good idea to dispose of toxic waste near where people live, so more assertive policy, governance and control could have circumvented this crisis. As I wrap things up, there is one take-home message from this blog that stands out, and that is that “waste is political” Moore (2009).

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs, and I hope you learnt a thing or two from this insightful blog. It will also be great if you could comment down below questions and general ideas you have about these series of blogs. It would be great to see what you think too! But as they say in Italian, ‘Grazie e arrivederci’.

References: (1)

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

4 thoughts on “Concluding Thoughts

  1. Your blog posts have indeed painted a holistic picture of how ‘waste is political’! From the ‘micro’ everyday actions of citizen fly-tipping, to the broader ‘macro’ issues of eco-mafias and poor governance, I now have a fuller understanding of how different actors exert their agencies over the metabolism of waste – and for Naples, how the compounding of poor decisions have led to variegated impacts on air, water, food, and most importantly, people and nature.

    Correspondingly, to correct this crisis, you mentioned the importance of political interventions – such as anti-corruption measures, crackdown on the Camorra and encouraging citizen recycling. This focus on local containment, rather than reliance on trash export (as per your previous post), is indeed a more sustainable strategy towards waste management.

    I am curious, however, on what do you think could be done to implement an effective recycling policy, especially considering the Camorra’s influence over the illegal dumping industry? What are some policies the state could deploy to ‘reinstate control’ over the recycling initiatives? It will be really interesting to hear your views on how Naples can ‘fix this weak metabolic link’ via recycling!

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    1. Hi there and thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Naples is indeed political, but if the city can tackle its political problems, dealing with waste shouldn’t be a big challenge considering that cities like Rome, Milan and Turin have done so effectively. It would involve increasing the number of recycling plants and then providing the right bins to households so that the right waste gets to the right place. Incineration is a good solution, apart from its implications on air quality so if the pollution can be managed then this would be a great solution. But I think the main solution for Naples comes in the form of policing and policy. By making punishing fly-tippers with harsh fines and maybe jail time and monitoring these sites of disposal, then maybe people might think twice about waste. For now, increasing the number of garbage collectors will be the best bet as the solution doesn’t look like it’ll get soon.

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  2. Your finale successfully ties together the themes of UPE, with the politics of Napes infrastructural organisation. I completely agree that like with many cities, a UPE lense helps to untangle the flows of power behind a city, which perhaps helps to explain why certain decisions are made. In Naples, it appears through the narrative of your blogs, a decentralised approach or solution to waste would be a pragmatic answer, in light of the level of corruption involved. Do you think there is a place in the future for the policy to play a role in the management of resource production in order to tackle issues of single-use?

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    1. Hi there Kerri and thanks for your comment. I do think that policy can indeed be a viable solution in the future, as other cities in Italy have done so successfully. Cities like Milan and Turin (among many others) have managed to set up world class waste disposal programmes, reducing single-use waste. But for Naples, corruption is rampant as you have seen. So, I think policy will be fairly successful in the future, but this maybe 15 or 20 years when the Italian government get a grip of the situation. Right now Naples is in a state of limbo I would say, control is from two sides the Camorra and the Italian government, but we could see this change soon. (Let’s hope so!)

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