Trashopolis – Naples

As much as I moan about the state of our city in relation to trash, it’s got nothing on Naples, Italy.

Naples often experiences waste problems, but the most recent situation is particularly severe. Garbage collection ceased on December 21 as there’s no more room for it at landfills. From what I’ve read, the enormity of the piles is only exceeded by the stench. Some schools have even been closed due to health risks.

While residents are furious about the trash, many have also opposed plans to open new dumps in the Naples area – to the point of violence. Local officials have also blamed organized crime relating to garbage collection services for the situation. Money laundering, gambling, protection rackets – and the Camorra, as the Naples Mafia is known,  is also involved in the trash industry? Incredible.

Here’s some scenes from the ongoing Naples trash issues posted by a YouTube user:

The city of 1 million generates an estimated 8,000 metric tons of trash daily – so that means well over 100,000 tons of rubbish have already piled up. Residents are now burning some of the trash, unleashing clouds of toxic smoke.

I’m not mentioning this as a way of looking down my nose at Naples, the population is in crisis mode; but more to underline how fragile our infrastructure is and just how much trash we generate. Imagine the same thing happening in Tokyo, Sydney, New York or any one of many dozens of cities with populations of over 1 million. The US alone has nine cities with populations topping one million. Imagine it happening in summer.

We tend to take services such as trash collection for granted – but someone has to do it and it all has to go somewhere. It’s just another good reminder that we all need to do our bit in terms of recycling and reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill – for example, using a worm farm to compost vegetable waste. You’d be amazed how much space is taken up in the average family’s trash can that worms love to chew on – and they’ll provide you with some great fertilizer in return!