Brave New Alps

Laboratorio Campano


For now the website is in Italian only. In the future it will also be translated in English.

Every year in Italy an unimaginable amount of industrial waste seemingly vanishes: just in 2006, 31 million tons ostensibly disappeared, roughly corresponding to the annual amount of solid municipal waste produced in the country. These disappearing industrial waste products – very often toxic – are burned, buried, poured into rivers, dumped in unlawful landfills or illegally spread on agricultural land. By avoiding the proper disposal of their waste, Italian industries are saving a huge amount of money whilst the eco-mafia who is taking care of dispersing such waste is earning a fortune.

Of all the Italian regions, Campania, with Naples as its capital, is the favoured illegal waste dump. For over twenty years, the ruthless disposal of all kinds of waste has produced an enduring environmental and sanitary disaster. This prevailing illegitimate waste disposal is the origin not only of soaring cancer rates but also of the “waste emergency” which has persisted in Naples and the rest of the region for the past 16 years. Besides generating further environmental problems, this emergency nourishes a swamp of corruption, special laws and institutional inertia.

Certainly in Campania, although not exclusively, the legal and illegal waste cycles are intertwined. The border between them merges, not only as there are those who are operating on behalf of both cycles, but above all because their mutual pursuit of profit maximisation is without regard for its damage to the environment and to the population. The whole business of waste seems to act according to the maxim of Nunzio Perella, a camorra repentant, who proclaimed: “La monnezza è oro” (“Waste is gold”).

Laboratorio Campano is an introduction to waste issues in Campania and to their connections with other realities in Italy and in the world. Studying the phenomena in this region is illuminating as the region has for decades been a territory for experimentation, whereby legal as well as illegal waste-handling strategies have been developed and exported from here to other places.

By exploring representative regional sites, Laboratorio Campano is an instrument that helps the observer to discover and interpret the diversity of apparatus which moves the “waste machine” and to comprehend who is lubricating it, and why.

Map of the over 5,200 potentially polluted sites in Campania. Source: ARPAC