Groups call for return of Italian waste from Tunisia

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Italian waste in Tunisia

Forty four environmental groups have called for the immediate return of what they say was illegally exported Italian municipal waste to Tunisia.

The organisations from Tunisia, Italy, Europe and elsewhere have asked Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius to order the return of the material.

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They include Zero Waste Europe, Basel Action Network and Réseau Tunisie Verte (Green Tunisia Network).

According to the groups, Italian company Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali sent 282 containers of mixed municipal waste to Tunisia in 2020, that was described as material for recycling.

This became a national scandal in the country when it was revealed that certain officials had approved the shipments. Tunisian Minister of Environment Mustapha Laroui at the time was arrested and lost his job over the scandal.

However, the material is still yet to be repatriated.

A court in Rome is currently considering the fate of the financial guarantee provided by Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali and the case has adjourned to 15 July. This appears to have delayed the repatriation, even though the Italian Government is supposed to repatriate it within 30 days of discovery under international law.

Réseau Tunisie Verte’s Semia Gharbi said: “We don’t understand why the Italian government sits on its hands in this case. And we cannot understand how the European Commission allows Italy to sit on its hands.

“The law is clear, the shipments were unlawful and Italy must bear initial responsibility.”

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