Rome brings in ban on single-use plastics to thwart ‘ecomafia’

Rome's mayor said today that she'll bring in a new ban on single-use plastics in the city, in a move that will be welcomed by environmental campaigners. But her plastic concerns are more about local mafiosi than pollution.

Rome brings in ban on single-use plastics to thwart 'ecomafia'
Plastic recycling. Photo: Depositphotos

“We're working on a ban on using disposable plastics in Rome,” Mayor Virginia Raggi, of the Five Star Movement, stated today.

But surprisingly she didn't cite environmental issues as the reason for the ban, even though green policies featured heavily in her party's election promises. Instead, she said she wants to starve the local “ecomafia” of its “food”: trash and recycling.

“We will rush the ban through because we must start subtracting rubbish from this criminal system,” she told local media. “I'm certain that the citizens will understand and will be with us.”

The “criminal system” she was referring to is the organised crime network believed to be targeting the city's waste processing facilities.

Rome is notorious for rubbish piling up, even near iconic monuments. Photo: FIlippo Monteforte/AFP

Residents have long blamed local officials for Rome's problems with rubbish, rats and general degradation.

But officials point the finger at organised criminals, who they say are strangling the city's rubbish collection and recycling systems and may be behind suspected arson attacks on recycling plants.

In December, fire destroyed a large waste processing plant on the outskirts of Rome, leaving the city struggling further to process rubbish and recycling at a time when residents were already complaining about trash piling up in the streets.

There was a separate serious fire at another waste processing plant on Sunday night, which police are investigating as a suspected arson attack.

READ ALSO: 'The great rubbish dump': Why Romans are fed up with the state of their city

Italian environment agency Legambiente coined the term 'ecomafia' to describe the sectors of organised crime that “deal in the illicit traffic and disposal of waste, and illegal building and excavation activities.”

Stefano Ciafani, president of Legambiente, told local radio: “the illegal recycling of waste and cement are their main operations creating a totally illegal turnover exceeded 14 billion euros in 2018.”

“It's an empire founded on illegality that undermines the environment, people's health and a healthy economy, and that makes a lot of money for ecomafia clans that are operating throughout Italy, not only in the classic four regions that we all know.”

Stefano Vignarola, an M5S member and president of the waste commission that deals with ecomafia, told local media the single-use plastic ban was “fundamental and we can no longer delay implementing concrete action for the reduction of waste throughout the country.”

“To demonstrate the urgency of these measures are the continuous fires, the plants full of waste with no outlet on the recycling market, and above all the innumerable problems that usually concern disposal processes.”


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Italy records sharp rise in femicides over the past year

Murders of women in Italy increased by nearly 16 percent over the past year, with the vast majority committed by a partner or ex-partner.

Italy records sharp rise in femicides over the past year

Data from Italy’s interior ministry on Monday showed there were 125 femicides between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022, compared with 108 during the same period in the previous year.

Of that number, the vast majority of murders — 108 — were committed within the family sphere or an emotional context, while 68 murders, or 63 percent of the total, were committed by the victim’s partner or ex-partner, data showed.

There were a total of 319 murders in Italy in the period.

The numbers show that, on average, a woman is killed every three days in Italy.

READ ALSO: ANALYSIS: ‘Violence against women conditions every aspect of our lives’

According to a November report by the European Institute for Gender Equality, Italy came in ninth out of 15 EU member states for the number of murders of women by intimate partners, based on 2018 data.

It came in tenth when looking at homicide committed by family members and relatives.

Womens’ rights campaigners say attitudes must change in Italy, where cases of violent crimes committed against women by their partners or ex-partners are often portrayed in the media as tragic stories of love gone sour, with the killers described as “jealous”.

READ ALSO: Almost half of Italian women report suffering sexual harassment

Almost 3.5 million women in Italy have been victims of stalking, according to data from national statistics agency Istat – but only 22 percent of those report the act or seek help.

Around one in three Italian women suffer abuse at some point in their life.

Femicide commonly refers to the killing of a girl or woman by a partner or family member.