Tunisia: ‘Italy and EU must take back waste dumped in Tunisia now – Environmental groups

Tunis / Tunisia – Forty-four Tunisian, Italian, European and international environmental groups have called on Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius to stop delaying and order the immediate return of Italian municipal waste shipped illegally to Tunisia l ‘last year.

According to these groups (including the Réseau Tunisie Verte, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), the Basel Action Netowrk and the Zero Waste Europe), the EU and international environmental law clearly indicate that Italy would have had to recover at least his waste. three months ago a joint statement reads.

In 2020, Italian company Sviluppo Risorse Ambientali illegally exported 282 containers of mixed municipal waste to Tunisia under misleading claims that the waste was being treated and would be recycled. In fact, it was mixed municipal waste, with little chance of recycling, the statement said.

“Exports were quickly the subject of a nationwide scandal in Tunisia when it was revealed that some officials had approved the shipments. The expeditions cost the former environment minister his job and resulted in his prosecution and detention. Despite the fury, however, Italian national authorities still have not repatriated the waste, three months after the January 8 deadline, as required by the Basel Convention. “

Under the Basel Convention, the Bamako Convention and the Izmir Protocol to the Barcelona Convention, exporting from Italy to Tunisia was illegal trafficking and a criminal act. In addition, Italy is required to repatriate waste within 30 days of the discovery of illegal trafficking.

On March 3, the organizations Réseau Tunisie Verte, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Basel Action Network and Zero Waste Europe released a brief report examining the legality of these shipments and called for their repatriation. Following a total lack of action on the port of Rome, on April 1, Tunisian groups demonstrated in front of the Italian embassy to demand that Italy collect its waste. On March 29, Italian MEPs Piernicola Pedicini and Rosa D’Amato (Verts / ALE) also raised European parliamentary questions asking the European Commission how it will ensure that the Italian government fulfills its obligations under the Basel Convention and guarantee that this will not happen again.

While a court in Rome is currently examining the fate of the financial guarantee the Italian exporter had provided for the shipments, with the court adjourning until June 15, there is no evidence that the Italian national government acted to dispose of the waste as required.

“The legal disputes between the Italian exporter, the insurance company and the government authorities are totally unrelated to the repatriation obligation,” said Sirine Rached of the Global Alliance for Alternatives to Incinerators. “The Italian national authorities must bear the immediate costs now and remain free to recover the costs from the culprits later.”

“The postponed repatriation increases the risk of harm that Tunisians suffer from these illegal shipments, as the toxic mixture of Italian garbage continues to rot in the port of Sousse,” said Hamdi Châabane of the Réseau Tunisie Verte (Réseau Tunisie Verte). .

“We do not understand why the Italian government is standing idly by in this matter. And we cannot understand how the European Commission is allowing Italy to sit idly by. The law is clear, the shipments were illegal and Italy must bear the initial responsibility, ”said Semia Gharbi of Réseau Tunisie Verte.

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