Calls for Italy to return illegal waste from Tunisia

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Illegal bales in Tunisia from Italy
Bales of Italian waste exported to Tunisia by Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali photographed during a visit by Tunisian legislators and journalists to the port of Sousse in December 2020 (Credits: Hamdi Chebaane).

Environmental Groups have called on the Italian Government to immediately return 282 containers of illegal waste from Tunisia.

The containers were full of mixed municipal waste that were exported from Italy’s Campania region to the Port of Sousse in Tunisia between May and July 2020. It is understood they were labelled as recyclate.

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While the Italian Administrative Region of Campania has already demanded that the exporting company Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali (SRA) return the waste at its own cost, SRA reportedly appealed this request to an administrative court in Naples and the court ruled it has no jurisdiction to counter the regional demand.

However, ultimate authority lies with the Italian Government.

Réseau Tunisie Verte (Tunis Green Network) Semia Gharbi said: “We fail to understand why Italy has not moved to resolve this case and have these unwanted wastes returned. We cannot wait indefinitely. We, therefore, call upon the European Commission to get involved and take the necessary actions to ensure that Italy fulfills its clear legal obligations. Tunisia is not Europe’s dumping ground.”

Basel Action Network’s Jim Puckett added: “Italy was made aware of the illegal shipment by the Tunisian Government on 9 December 2020. It is therefore nearly two months overdue in acting as required by law. This is unacceptable. We call upon the European Commission to take the necessary action to ensure compliance.”

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