Italy reluctant to tackle illegal landfills

Italy has the highest number of illegal landfills in the EU, and is paying a high price in fines as a result. [Alan Levine/Flickr]

After the European Court of Justice imposed heavy fines on Italy in 2014 for 198 illegal landfills, only 13 have actually been brought up to code. EURACTIV Italy reports.

On 2 December 2014, the Court ordered Italy to pay a heavy fine for not having executed a ruling dating back to 2007 and for not complying with an EU Waste Directive, due to the 198 illegal landfill sites in its territory. The fine amounted to an initial €40 million, plus €42 million for every six months Italy failed to clean up the illegal dumps.

On 2 June 2015, that six months had elapsed, and only 13 sites had been cleared by the authorities. Piernicola Pedicini, an Italian MEP with the Five Star Movement, described it as “a serious scandal, which highlights the inefficiency of Renzi’s government and the subsequent economic damage Italy has suffered due to the incompetence of our institutions. Unfortunately, in this case also, it is the everyday citizen who will have to pay, not those who are responsible for the situation”.

For the remaining 185 illegal sites, Italy will have to pay around €40 million in fines, but for every site that they manage to bring up to code, between €200,000 and €400,000 will be deducted from this payment.

>>Read: Circular Economy: Landfill restriction needed

Pedicini held Italy’s environment minister, Gian Luca Galletti (UDC), to account. “When the Court of Justice gave its ruling, Italy’s first reaction was to issue a pompous official statement claiming that the actual figure of illegal sites was 45. It was a blatant lie, bearing in mind that the European Commission, two months later, communicated that the number of Italian sites breaching regulations was 198 in December 2014 and 185 in June of this year,” he concluded.

During a Union of the Centre party event in San Giovanni Rotondo, Galletti, denounced the poor waste collection carried out in the south of the country, “I will not tolerate more landfills. I want to see results, or the regions of the south will have to take measures, by building new treatment plants, in order to be self-sufficient.”

>>Read: Plastics to be banned from European landfill

In the meantime, an amendment to a decree relating to the eligibility criteria of landfill waste was published in the Italian government’s official journal (Gazzetta Ufficiale). The amendment, requested by the European Commission, relates to ceramic waste, bricks, tiles and building materials (waste code 101208) that can no longer by dumped in landfills without prior sorting.

Furthermore, it introduces an assessment for the neutralisation and dumping of hazardous, stable, non-reactive acids in normal landfill sites, as well as laying down criteria for sufficient physical stability and bearing capacity of hazardous materials prior to their disposal.

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