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Introduction

lost the key to how to open its potential and benefit from it as a life-long revenue. Once the waste is produced – i.e. when a natural resource is transformed into a product with a limited life span – society should be able to make a profit of its constant reformulation. Instead, today the beneficiaries of the way we treat waste as a result of the exploitation of natural resources are to be found in a black spot of our economic system; they are another by-product, so to say.

Municipal solid waste kg / person / day >2.50 2.00-2.49 1.50-1.99

SHADOW ECONOMY

Strangely enough, criminal organizations have had a strong interest and bond to garbage for a very long time. It seems that our way to suppress waste and enclose it in our subconsciousness generates a legal vacuum where space can be claimed by outlaws. For decades, the Italian Mafia has been deeply involved in the waste business. Contracted by the public authorities, they dump the waste that has been collected and supposedly treated, on open land without any protection system, mixed with toxic and other contaminated substances. They even export the garbage to other locations, where rules, regulations, and ethics are less rigid than in Europe. The bill has to be paid by the people living close to the garbage sites and by the immediate natural environment. An extreme case is an area north of Naples, also known as “Land of Poison”. In 1997, one of the

<1.49 No data

heads of the Casalesi Mafia clan, Carmine Schiavone, gave testimony to a parliamentary investigation committee in Rome. His confession was so outrageous that the Italian government kept it classified until 2013: “’We are talking about millions of tons,’ Schiavone, formerly head of administration for the Mafia organization, told the parliamentarians. ‘I also know that trucks came from Germany carrying nuclear waste.’ The operations took place under the cloak of darkness and were guarded by Mafiosi in military police uniforms, he said. He showed Italian justice officials the locations of many of the dumpsites because, as he put it in 1997, the people in those areas are at risk of ‘dying of cancer within 20 years’.”4

Another example: the largest export good of the United States of America to China is trash.5 This has to do with the growing problem of finding landfill spaces or new locations for incineration plants. There are countries that happily accept the trash from other societies, especially when they are paid for it. Their understanding of environmental protection or human health is less distinct. In the case of Ghana, one of the main recipients of e-waste from all over the world, people move from rural areas to scrap sites next to harbour zones to strip and burn electronic wastes in order to collect valuable metals such as aluminium and copper. To get to the metal inside, the plastic casings are burned on 2  Global map of per capita solid municipal waste production.

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Building from waste  

This book provides a conceptual and practical look into materials and products which use waste as a renewable resource for architectural, in...

Building from waste  

This book provides a conceptual and practical look into materials and products which use waste as a renewable resource for architectural, in...

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