Tunisia returns Italy’s illegally exported waste

Tunisia returns illegally exported waste to Italy today
Tunisia returns illegally exported waste to Italy today – Photo: MENA

Tunisia begins returning waste to Italy that was illegally exported in 2020.

The Italian waste scandal broke in November 2020 when journalists revealed an illegal contract between the Tunisian import company Soreplast and Italian waste company SRA Compania. The contract detailed the import of 120,000 tons of household waste mislabeled as recyclable plastic. Italy will now receive over 280 shipping containers full of illegally exported waste from Tunisia.

Illegal waste exports from Italy increased after China stopped importing waste to recycle into cheap manufactures. Exports often see rich European countries sending hazardous waste to poorer nations in defiance of prohibitory laws. Environmentalists and the public have protested, as they see illegal waste export as both an environmental hazard and a social injustice.

Short-term, expect Tunisia to increase port security and regulations to prevent further illegal waste importation. Government ministers and businessmen in both Italy and Tunisia will also likely be arrested over the scandal. Medium-term, the EU will likely institute reforms cutting back on single-use plastics and strengthening penalties for illegal waste export while increasing the number of waste disposal facilities. While this will likely succeed, in the meantime waste will remain in warehouses to be reduced through old disposal methods and legal exports.

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