Italy - The exciting background to the huge waste problem

Italy - Sicily's huge rubbish problem

The island of Sicily suffers from massive pollution. We read that tourists now think twice about coming here and even locals are outraged. Everywhere we see mountains of rubbish bags, often torn open, with stray animals looking for food or even rats running around.

The island's cities are drowning in rubbish chaos, while the mafia seems to profit from it. Even the Sicilians, who are normally tough, we read, are appalled by the pollution of the beaches, streets and cities. Why and how the mafia earns money from it is not clear to us.

As we drive along the coast, there is not an inch of road without rubbish. We see tons of plastic bottles, kitchen utensils, rubbish bags and even refrigerators and sofas. The cultural treasures and beautiful nature of the island stand in stark contrast to the rubbish.

We do a little research because the issue seems to haunt us. Sicily suffers from waste problems because the previous governors of the region have been protective of the operators of private landfills and have failed to establish a publicly controlled landfill.

There are even some investigations underway against the operators of the landfills for illegal toxic waste disposal, illegal operation and bribery of politicians and officials. Two landfills were recently closed because millions in bribes were found hidden in plastic canisters under the rubbish.

Now that there are not enough landfills, the rubbish is simply not collected. And what do you do then? They simply put their rubbish bags by the roadside. Mountains pile up, it stinks to high heaven and when the wind is strong, everything is spread all over the island.

For us, it is sometimes not so easy to find clean places. And then we also make rubbish. Not much, but still. When we arrive at a nice spot, and there are so many, we take out our rubbish snapper and clean up what we call our front garden for a short time. There is only one hurdle we have to overcome each time: Where to put the filled rubbish bags? So far, however, we have always found some public rubbish bin.

We, at least, have got into the habit of this "clean-my-own-garden-and-enjoy-philosophy" and carry on. That's the way it is for us. And hope that many campers and vanlifers think the same way: "We leave the place cleaner than we find it".

Oh, don't worry, we won't be moaning about the rubbish in the next few posts either. Sicily is far too beautiful for that!

pure life 230226 11 46 001

pure life 230226 11 47 003

pure life 230226 12 57 004

pure life 230226 13 05 005


Merci for "travelling with us

These weeks we are travelling through Iran. It's possible that we won't be writing posts or that they will be delayed. We first have to see whether we have enough internet or reception and whether it is suitable for us to publish from the country. And whether we will even manage to write down all the fantastic impressions in time.

Do you think our travel experiences might be of interest to others? Then you can share the Share post quietly. By e-mail or however you want to do it.

In addition, if you haven't already done so, you can use our Newsletter subscribe. Here you will receive all our experiences in your mailbox whenever we publish something new or once a week on Fridays: live-pur.ch/newsletter

We are also very happy to hear your views, your tips or your questions. Just comment on the post!

 

Share:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

13 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rachel
Rachel
11 months ago

There's a lot I can think of to say.....
Too much....😉

Sicily drops out when travelling.

Heike
Heike
11 months ago
Reply to  Rachel

Dear Rachel
yes, it's sad as hell. But to miss out on the beautiful area, the great gelato and the powerful female energy of Etna?
think again!

But Calabria and Apulia are at least as beautiful!

Best regards!

Ferhat
Ferhat
7 months ago
Reply to  Heike

Also experienced in Sicily. Puglia, unfortunately, almost as filthy. Even south of Rome, I saw rubbish almost everywhere on the roadsides on the coastal road from Ostia towards Anzio. And that in the middle of Europe! Even in my parents' home country, outside Europe, in Turkey, I have never experienced anything like this.... What's wrong with the southern Italians? :/

Kerstin
Kerstin
11 months ago

When I was in Sicily sometime in 2012/13, it also blew us away. Just rubbish everywhere. We had 2 small cottages - at the second one, down near the beach at a nature reserve, there were not even any plates. Only 2 cups. The sink was a lovely, but much too small ceramic limonene basin. We asked the owner why there were no dishes? Well, you wouldn't need them, who wants to do the washing up, there are enough plastic plates and cups here and we should just throw the rubbish into a bag and then into the ditch next to the house. With everything in it. Plastic, paper, glass, whatever. If there are a few bags there, he burns them.

We were speechless, horrified... kept washing our one plastic plate. In Noto (were you there too? Totally cute!) there were pretty, artfully made ceramic holders for plastic cups, plastic plates etc.. So it seems to have its customers. So, apparently, that's how it's done there?

Everywhere on the roadside, on the motorway, in beautiful nature on the way up to Etna... everything just full of rubbish. We said we wouldn't come back - and we didn't. That was too much even for my Italian.

Ely
Ely
7 months ago

Nous venons de revenir de Sicile avec dans la tête plein de beaux sites : Palerme, Taormina, la vallée des temples, Syracuse et l'etna.
Malheureusement nous avons aussi en tête ces déchets partout (excepté à Taormina) ce qui a gâché une partie de notre voyage.
Toujours la même question revenait pourquoi une telle situation alors que nous sommes en Europe?
J'avoue ne pas comprendre pourquoi le gouvernement ne fait rien cela renvoie tellement une mauvaise image de cette belle île appartenant à un pays si magnifique.

Heike
Heike
7 months ago
Reply to  Ely

We have done a lot of research. And we suspect that the government unfortunately no longer holds the reins. But of course we don't know exactly. 

We must bear in mind that a lot of European waste is simply flogged off to the countries of the global south. Money simply has to be paid for this. What happens to the waste there is more than well known. It is hardly likely to be disposed of properly 🙁

For us, it is more important to reduce waste already at the point of purchase. And to point out possibilities and situations. We want to avoid pointing the finger at others. Because what do we know?

Nous avons fait beaucoup de recherches. Et nous supposons que le gouvernement n'y tient malheureusement plus les rênes. Mais nous ne savons pas exactement. 

We must remember that many European waste is simply sold in the countries of the South. We must therefore pay for this. We know very well that there are advancing waste there. It is not very likely that they will be eliminated correctly.

For us, it is more important to reduce emissions after purchase. And to pay attention to the possibilities and situations. We want to avoid making others pay the price. But what are we waiting for?

Müller W.
Müller W.
5 months ago

Hello, we also spent a week near Palermo from 22.09.2023 and are appalled by the amount of rubbish lying on the streets and beaches. It is so sad to let such a beautiful island suffocate in rubbish and no one helps😞.

ingrassia
ingrassia
5 months ago

Je reviens à peine de cette ile contrastée et riche en histoire et en tradition. Pas d'insécurité, y compris à Palerme. On ne voit pas de racailles,très peu d'extra-européens, du coup on est en sécurité et ça change tout. Les Siciliens sont entre eux, sortent, profitent, les terrasses sont pleine, on y mange comme des rois et faire ses courses délivre à nouveau du plaisir. les fruits sont juste fabuleux...enfin du goût. Ce serait parfait sans les ordures...partout des tas d'immondices, du plastiques, de tout...en tas, le long des routes. Tant de beauté gâchée par les ordures...il faut vraiment faire quelques chose...Des efforts sont fait dans certains sites, dans quelques plages...mais c'est beaucoup trop rare. Les Siciliens sont gentils, accueillants...un peu fou du volant mais enfin, ça passe et malgré tout cela donne envie d'y vivre

Sandra
Sandra
4 months ago

We have just come from Italy. We were travelling near Naples. We also visited the Amalfi Coast and Capri. A beautiful country, but the rubbish in Naples, on the motorway, on the beach, in the sea, simply unbearable. How often have I disposed of other people's rubbish, trying to find a rubbish bin, knowing that the rubbish bag will soon be on the street. When buying a bottle of water, you are offered a plastic bag that is so thin that it would tear anyway if you were to transport the bottle with it. On the ferry to Capri, champagne bottles are opened to sell Limancello to tourists and the corks are shot directly into the sea. There is clearly a great need for education here. I would love to help, to support somehow, it is hard to enjoy the beauty of the country knowing how the environment is being polluted and destroyed in the middle of Europe. This is what we see. The seabed doesn't look much better when you read reports about the Strait of Messina. Simply sad. Is there any organisation that can help. Really do something? It's clear to me that I won't be travelling to southern Italy any more, it feels like they're still supporting the problem.

en_GB