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Tunisia to return illegally imported waste to Italy

Tunisia to return illegally imported waste to Italy

The Amphitheatre of El Jem in El Djem, Tunisia Photo: VCG

Tunisia will return more than 280 containers of waste illegally imported from Italy in 2020, its environment ministry said Monday.

The containers were brought in by a Tunisian company that falsely claimed that the household waste – barred from import under Tunisia law – was in fact plastic scrap to be recycled.

The importation had sparked widespread anger, resulting in protests in Tunisia as people demanded that Italy take back its refuse.

The waste containers were brought in from the Campania region in southern Italy, and are currently being stored at a port in the Tunisian city of Sousse.

A deal was signed on Friday between the two countries to return the waste to Italy, its country of origin, the Tunisian environment ministry said Monday.

According to the deal, 213 containers stored at the port of Sousse will initially be returned, with the first ship set to carry the waste to Italy on Saturday.

Consultations are ongoing over the fate of the remaining waste containers stored in Sousse, which were damaged in a fire in December 2021.

Some 26 people are being prosecuted over their alleged involvement in illegally importing the waste.

The manager of the import firm is at large, after the company signed a deal worth 5 million euros to dispose of up to 120,000 tons of waste.

The case shines a spotlight on the global trade in waste, which has grown despite stricter regulations aimed at preventing rich countries from dumping their hazardous refuse on poorer nations.

AFP