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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
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I have just returned from two months in southern Italy and was amazed at the Italian attitude to waste.

I thought there was an EU ruling that set recycling targets for member countries. If so, it obviously does not apply in Italy.

The amount of plastic refuse it produces is staggering, mostly from plastic bottles as everyone drinks mineral water.

Perhaps Italy - and the rest of us - should adopt a system like the Scandinavians where you pay an additional charge for plastic bottles which get returned when they are brought back for recycling.
Stuart Scot

I find Stuart's comments quite ignorant. I have spent five months in southern Italy and have a completely different impression.

As an Australian in the UK, I am appalled at the complete disregard for recycling in London
Stuart has read into the article something it does not say. His comments do not reflect the reality that the Italian people actually do have a genuine care for their environment.

But it is like any place where there is a richer ruling class which is corrupt and where over population is a real issue. This does not condemn the Italian race per se.

Look a little closer to home. As an Australian in the UK, I am appalled at the complete disregard for recycling in London.

There are neither recycling facilities in my office nor at my home. As I understand it the UK Government has decided it is more cost effective to simply transport the waste as rubbish to mainland Europe rather than divide the waste into recyclables.

Naples does not seem to be able to get its act together. It does not care about recycling and it does not build enough incinerators.

The only viable long-term solution is separation of northern and southern Italy, forming two independent states, ending the current forced marriage.

Maybe that is when they will start taking responsibility for their own affairs. We will not miss their company too much.
Roberto Soria

My wife is a northern Italian and we both spend a great deal of time there.

While she would not agree with Roberto or the Northern League's proposal of total separation, there are serious issues with the difference in how northern and southern Italians live their lives and the waste issue is prime example.

The corruption that runs through most parts of life in southern Italy is bleeding the region dry
Recycling in northern Italy is much the same as most European countries, however the corruption that runs through most parts of life in southern Italy is bleeding the region dry, at the expense of northern Italians.

It is time for Italy to reintroduce the "clean hands" anti-corruption policy of the early 90s, but this time finish the job.

The mafia is one of the oldest problems of southern Italy. It exists because of the absence of any institutional entity representing the state. The mafia has filled this institutional void for a long time.

I do not think there is a simple solution to this historical issue.
Ferdinando Buzzo

As an American living in southern Italy I see both sides. I see how people can get the wrong impression when walking the streets.

But when I take my trash out there is a plastic bin, a cardboard bin, and a trash bin. In other places there are bins for glass.

It may not work perfectly but I stick to it religiously and I believe some Italians do too. Of course then there are others who do not.

You just need the attitude to slowly change. It is not going to happen overnight or because of one crisis in Naples.

The people that do recycle need to slowly convert those that do not.

I agree with Roberto Soria. Italy is an artificial state created by freemasonry.

There is a great difference between Milan - and in general the northern area - and the south: different origin (Milan is Celtic), story, language, accent, behaviour and last but not least taxes.

Roberto is right. There is such a difference between northern and southern Italy, that forcing them to accept the same institutions is like trying to put on shoes that do not fit.

As far as waste are concerned, the problem is two-fold. On the one hand there is no free market to take care of waste, and government intervention is too costly and inefficient to work.

Keep the government's hands away from waste, by de-nationalizing waste management and creating a free market
Guglielmo Cancelli
Secondly, the public management of the issue has been driven by a political line of reasoning: the ruling parties are trying to shift waste from the place where they get the majority of votes to a place where they do not.

Having the right-wing coalition in power in Rome, and the left in charge of the regional government in Naples, we face not just a waste-management problem, rather a political struggle where any party is trying to benefit its voters.

Thus, we have a viable solution: that is, keep the government's hands away from waste - by de-nationalizing waste management and creating a free market - and let different regions develop individual solutions to this and other problems.
Guglielmo Cancelli

In order to protect its ecosystem, comply to European standards and last but not least cut a vital business source for local Mafia, old fashioned landfill sites cannot be used any longer.

The construction of an advanced incinerator - the biggest in Europe - is now underway in the town of Acerra, 13km away from Naples.

This is first step of a long-term strategy. However, people living in the chosen area were understandably unhappy and protested with road blockades, preventing waste reaching its destination.

The vast majority of Italians would really not like to read about these issues with such prejudice
Due to the high population density of the region, a perfectly suitable area is hard to find. A reasonable agreement with nearby towns was finally found and the situation has improved a lot.

Of course the Mafia exists and is involved. It is still a problem for the South, even though it is no longer as big as a decade ago, thanks to the efforts of both magistrates and common citizens.

The Mafia is neither a game not just a subject for movies. It is something the people are neither happy nor proud to stay with. It is still a sad reality the vast majority of southern Italians are facing and fighting on a daily basis, even experiencing innocent deadly losses.

The vast majority of Italians would really not like to read about these issues with such prejudice anymore.

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Crossing Continents


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