A lack of landfill space and weak government control of the waste management industry – which is plagued by mob involvement – have led to the crisis which has seen uncollected rubbish piling up in the streets.

In some areas local have resorted to burning the refuse to remove it, leading to further health and safety fears.

Attempts to use neighbouring regions’ waste facilities as a stop gap have also met with hostility – and in some cases riots – with the army called in to keep the peace.

This week unions went on the offensive, calling on the government to declare a state of emergency and predicting losses to the region of up to 500 million Euros, as tourists stay away.

Waste management has long been a problem in southern Italy, where the authorities have a tenuous grip on the industry.

The problem has been exacerbated in Naples as the city’s main landfill is now full while a slow planning system and legal wrangling has delayed the delivery of new facilities.

While the trend across Europe has been a reduction in domestic waste, or stabilisation at worse, Italy has seen a continued rise in municipal waste per capita.

Sam Bond

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