Tunisia redirects 213 waste containers to Italy

During the summer of 2020, customs discovered 282 containers of household waste illegally imported from Italy by a Tunisian company.

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Tunisia reshipped to Italy, Saturday February 19, 213 containers of household waste illegally imported in 2020 from this country, a case that caused a scandal at the time. The day before, these containers stored in the commercial port of Sousse had been gradually loaded onto a Turkish ship chartered by the Italian authorities, said the director of communication for the management of the Merchant Navy and Ports Office (OMMP). , Sahbi Azouz. “The reshipment of this waste took place on board the first ship ‘Arkas’ on February 19, 2022”, specifies the Minister of the Environment to the TAP agency.

In 2020, around 280 containers had been transported by a Tunisian company which had falsely claimed that this household waste, the import of which is prohibited by law, was in fact plastic waste intended for recycling. They came straight from the Campania region (around Naples), in southern Italy: 213 containers were stored in the Sousse port and the remaining 67 in a warehouse near this coastal town. An agreement was signed on February 11 between Tunisia and Italy to ship 213 containers back to their country of origin. The return of the rest of the waste containers, damaged by a fire last December, is the subject of “consultations” between the two parties, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

Twenty-six people, including former Environment Minister Mustapha Aroui, are being prosecuted in this case for their alleged involvement in the illegal import of household waste. Eight are in prison and one is on the run, the manager of the importing company which had signed a contract with an Italian company for the disposal of 120,000 tons at a price of 48 euros per ton, a total exceeding 5 million euros. This affair caused a scandal in Tunisia and provoked protest movements by the population and local NGOs who had expressed their refusal that their country should be the “trash can” from Italy.

The case also shed light on the global trade in waste, which has grown despite strict regulations aimed at preventing rich countries from dumping their hazardous waste in poor countries.

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