The term ecomafia is a neologism coined by the environmental association Legambiente to indicate the illegal activities of criminal organizations which cause damage to the environment.
In particular, criminal associations involved in the trafficking and illegal disposal of waste are generally defined as eco-mafias.
News relating to the activities of these organizations began to have a certain prominence starting from 1982, when the legislation on the treatment of special waste came into force with the enactment of the Presidential Decree 10 September 1982, n. 915 (“Implementation of directives (EEC) no. 75/442 relating to waste, no. 76/403 relating to the disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls and polychlorinated triphenyls and no. 78/319 relating to toxic and harmful waste”).
For the first time in 1991, crimes of this type were established, committed on a large scale. Six entrepreneurs and administrators were convicted by the Seventh Section of the Court of Naples for abuse of office and corruption; they were acquitted, however, of the crime of mafia association.
However, the term ecomafia appeared, for the first time, in 1994 in a document published by the Italian association Legambiente, entitled Ecomafia – the role of organized crime in environmental illegality.
In 1997 the first Ecomafia Report of the environmental association was published, which since then has been taking stock of the subject every year.
In 1995 the “Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into the Waste Cycle” was established. The Commission of Inquiry was renewed in all subsequent legislatures, up to the current (XVII Legislature) in which it was established with law no. 1 of 2014, and was chaired first by the deputy Alessandro Bratti, then by the deputy Chiara Braga.
According to Legambiente’s 2015 Ecomafia report, 29,293 crimes were ascertained in 2014, for a turnover of 22 billion euros. The regions where the highest number of environmental crimes are recorded are, in order, Campania, Sicily, Calabria and Puglia, the same regions in which the main Italian mafia organizations are present. Activities often attributed to these organizations, in addition to those concerning waste disposal, are also illegal excavation, waste trafficking, trafficking of exotic animals, looting of archaeological assets, large-scale unauthorized building and breeding of fighting animals.
Southern Italy is the area where most of waste ends up, in particular along the so-called “Adriatic route” and “Tyrrhenian route”, from the north towards Puglia and Campania-Calabria. Part of the waste is buried in illegal quarries, already subject to environmental crimes of excavation. In Northern Italy the disposal of toxic sludge, such as fertilizer in cultivated fields, has been ascertained in several cases. But Italy is also a crossroads of international waste trafficking, coming from European countries and destined to Nigeria, Mozambique, Somalia, Romania.

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Matteo Raspa


II A – Furci Siculo

Malta experience

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