Naple’s landfill crisis / UK top of landfill league

Naples has descended into chaos with their landfill sites overflowing, rubbish piling up on the streets, residents clashing with police, the government holding emergency meetings and now the army has been called in to deal with the situation. BCC article. Also read the IHT report.

Italy is second worst in the landfill league table for the EU . At the top is the UK.

The UK has increased its average recycling rate to 30% but is still filling more landfill space each year than any other EU country.

Here are the figures;

Tonnes of household rubbish thrown into landfill
UK 26,814,536
Italy 19,597,217
Spain 17,091,117
France 13,549,461
Germany 9,892,560
Ireland 7,571,275
Greece 4,431,835
Portugal 3,440,405
Austria 1,606,643
Finland 1,506,518
Belgium 640,880
Sweden 587,745
Netherlands 305,776
Denmark 188,877
Luxembourg 70,598

War on Waste campaign

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales launches its War on Waste campaign today according to a press release.

Council leaders will warn that an area the size of Warwick, which covers 109 square miles, is already taken up by landfill, and if the current trend continues it is estimated the country will run out of landfill space in less than nine years time.

Over the coming months, the War on Waste campaign will urge that there needs to be a radical overhaul of the amount of rubbish produced and way in which rubbish is thrown away. Local people, businesses, central government and councils all have a vital role to play.

To quote the LGA, Councils, and consequently the taxpayer, are facing fines of up to £150 per tonne of rubbish that is sent to be dumped into landfill sites. According to the National Audit Office, fines of up to £200million could hit taxpayers for the failure to cut the amount that is thrown in landfills.

This stick approach is understandable because of the UK’s position at the top of the landfill league table but it is questionable whether this approach will encourage a positive response and radically reduce landfill waste. A more jointed up, grown up and enabling approach is needed.

Food packaging study

There is however wider work going on to look at why so much waste is being produced with one particular study looking at packaging with the supermarkets. The study (pdf) for the LGA’s War on Waste campaign will look at the amounts of packaging used for food items and note how much of it can be recycled. Most supermarkets will be scrutinized.

”Love Food Hate Waste” campaign

The above named campaign will be the public face for the drive to educate people on waste and will highlight the shocking amount of food that is thrown away.

***We are throwing away a third of the food we buy in the UK.***

There are many reasons why this is happening. It is not as common anymore for people to use leftovers to create another meal for example. See more at the LOVE FOOD hate waste website.

This entry was posted in Business, Campaigns, Carbon footprint, Education, EU, Food & Agriculture, Politics & Policy initiatives, UK, Waste and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Naple’s landfill crisis / UK top of landfill league

  1. earthpal says:

    Britain was voted the Dustbin of Europe in November on account of it’s dire landfil statistics. Shameful isn’t it.

    Thanks for the LOVE FOOD website. Very helpful.

  2. matt says:

    The mentality of wheelie bin rage regards new recycling systems that has swept the nation over 2007 has been very strange indeed. This whinging, selfish culture of some British people can’t be helping councils & the government to try and bring about positive changes so that the UK’s landfill waste reduces.

  3. judithgr says:

    I posted on the Naples crisis just the other day. There are some TV news links that allow you to see the reality. It’s horrible. I was in Campania a year ago and it was bad then. Everybody knew what the problem was but no one seemed to be able to tackle it.

    Italy has real problems finding places. We are on rock. You hardly want to fill in the natural beauty of the valleys, and you don’t want to pollute the water. They really need to figure out how to generate power using trash, since we have plenty of that and no petroleum.

    Article is “Not Just Naples’ Problem” and is at

  4. matt says:

    Hi Judith

    The UK seems to think burning their rubbish is the way out of their waste mountain which in turn provides much needed power generation. Others such as Greenpeace don’t like this idea particularly because of emissions, dioxins and that such a route encourages the creation of more rubbish!

    Not far from where I live in north London there is a power station that burns the majority of north London’s waste. The smoke that billows out of it can be seen for miles around. Local folk complain of ash falling upon their parked cars and such like.

    I see now that the Italian army are moving into Naples to start clearing the rubbish with bulldozers. They then need to move on to deal with the Camorra.

  5. suburbanlife says:

    I have lived in the Lower Mainland of BC, Canada, off and on for 50 years and have seen how over this period of time waste has been handled here. There are several areas in the region which have been built over landfill; landfill in the region had been filled to capacity ten to fifteen years ago, and new landfill to house the waste from the Lower Mainland has been shipped during the past ten + years to Cache Creek, @250 miles north of Vancouver. This landfill has now at maximum capacity, and a new landfill site is sought to house our increasing waste.
    Our local Municipality has just informed us citizens of fines being given out for improper dumping of materials which should be recycled. There will be increased vigilance at the trensfer station. The “stick” of fines is probably going to work better than the “carrot” of making citizens feel fuzzy for doing minimal recycling. However, it is waste generated at source of distribution of “stuff” that need rethinking and retooling. G

  6. judithgr says:

    That’s inexcusable these days. With properly built chimneys and scrubbers, etc., emissions can be made safe. As a matter of fact, some valuable elements can be rescued from belching chimney smoke.

    It’s not just that something needs to be done, something must be planned, perfected insofar as present science understands it, and then done.

    I stayed up until 2 AM to see a discussion show on the subject last night. All the participants were there and a few that are not but always have something to say. One participant was the mayor of Bologna who explained their power generation trash handling which is 35 years old, has been re-fitted several times to update the technology and which undergoes constant testing to be sure the surroundings are clean. So far it tests better than the cities of Italy for ecological cleanliness. Thirty five years in place and still nothing for Naples. If anyone understand Italian, Rai probably has the film available on their site under “Porta a Porta”.

    If you could have heard the political leaders of Naples you would know instantly what the problem is. The president of the region whined, “Everybody wants this to be all my problem, why should it be all my problem?” I thought he had a point until I learned he was the mayor of Naples before this position.

    The upshot is that with the best effort there cannot be a new landfill for at least 1 year, and the citizens near the one they intend to re-open are in the streets fighting it. Films showing over a kilometer of above ground covered piles of unmanaged garbage were shocking. Everyone in Italy has had a hand in this. Other regions have blinked at the fact that the Camorra has taken their garbage and shipped it to Naples and conjoined it willy nilly for years, because it wasn’t going into their back yards.

    If you could fight the Camorra with an army, someone would surely have done it. Who they are and who runs them is usually secret until the Carabinieri catch them. You’d need to offer witness protection to one-third of the population to figure it all out. As is happening in Sicily, you need a population disgusted with the price their society pays so that every single citizen is willing to die to fight them.

    This tangled mess is way too big to be figured out in ecological sites. The one thing seems clear: you can’t wait for the politicians to do it.

  7. matt says:

    Hi G

    Taking rubbish 250 miles away is so unsustainable it’s laughable! Best to burn it as scrubbing technology is better these days. Yes, the whole life cycle of production needs looking at. Some manufacturers are taking this on. See this for example about bottle manufacturers;

    There is a create little film about the process of making ‘stuff’ via this link;


  8. matt says:

    Hi Judith

    Yes it is a massive problem and hugely embarrassing for Italians I imagine. Italy has a weak government so I guess sacking the mayor for the region that includes Naples is out of the question. Also they therefore will be too scared to sack the Camorra rubbish contractor.

    Stopping the import of rubbish from other parts of Italy is the first priority. Sounds like exporting it to be burned elsewhere is the immediate solution but, with toxic waste mixed in with ordinary waste a city like Bologna won’t touch it.

    This really is a mess isn’t it.

  9. judithgr says:

    The federal government can’t sack the elected mayor of a city. Can you do that in the UK? What can eventually be done, I think, is those involved in the corrupt practices can be brought to trial and jailed.

    Everything must come from the people. They must turn in criminals, they must learn to conserve and recycle, they must keep this energy that is presently throwing rocks at cops and burning trash and turn it to seeing the job done. The first sensible thing I heard from a protester was “Let’s carry it to their houses!” It became clear that you could hope for nothing from the local pols.

    There are a dozen ecological technicians hired to implement the recycling effort who have been waiting in Naples, with nothing to do, for years. They were hired with no plan in mind. They said they fill the time doing volunteer outreach projects, because none of them are from Naples and they get bored. They should send them to us, because we have an isola ecologica but it is open weird hours, different everyday, never more than four at a time, so we could use the help.

  10. matt says:

    London is one of the few major UK cities to have a mayor. If there is a disciplinary problem with the mayor then there’s a committee to deal with this and I believe it has been used once and I think the mayor was suspended for a few weeks. I agree the courts might be the best route, as long as the judge isn’t corrupted or, worse still threatened with his life.

    If the local politicians aren’t doing anything and the hired ‘ecological technicians’ haven’t been able to do anything for a couple of years then this is really bad. The Camorra must have a tight grip. An outside team with a strong leader is needed, maybe from central government. That team leader must be given all powers (the law) to enforce radical change.

    I know, easier said than done.

    Driving a few truck loads of rubbish around to the politician’s villa doorsteps …. great idea!!

  11. Pingback: Mozzarella scare blamed on Italian waste crisis « The Coffee House

  12. Nathalie Goad, Envido says:

    What will happen when we run out of landfill in the UK? We already have an area the size of Warwick that is used for burying waste. Once this runs out we have to look at alternatives to waste management, including incineration. Most investment needs to be in reducing packaging at source, reusing and recycling. But, there may be an argument that incineration should provide part of the solution as energy can be produced as a by product in the process.

  13. matt says:

    Someone pointed out to me recently that the reason landfill survives as an option for waste disposal is because the UK still has many mining holes to fill. And once filled more land becomes available eventually for new housing. Lovely!

    North London boroughs already burn most of their waste at Edmonton to generate electricity. You wouldn’t want to live near this place as it stinks and drops ash all over the surrounding neighbourhood.

Comments are closed.