Garbage in Palermo -June 2009-

Since almost one year the inhabitants of Palermo lives between piles of garbage. During the last months the situation got worse.  The garbage is not collected because street sweepers are on strike, as they have not been paid for months. Many trucks are often out of use and mainly the garbage dump of Bellolampo in Palermo has been closed for a several weeks, with the result that there was no other place where to throw all the garbage. From this situation there is also who take advantage to throw away material like mattress, old furniture, household appliance and hospital residuals. Concerns regarding public health are growing day by day till the point that mayors of some municipalities have closed some schools and public offices. Have also to be considered that in Palermo and in the surrounding municipalities it doesn’t exist any recycling process. Only the Cenciaioli are trying to clean the streets, even thought their activity is considered illegal. They are normally people having low social status, many with criminal records, who are trying to rebuild their lives looking for wealth in the trash and offering a free service to the city to earn an average of € 30 per day. They clean up Palermo from recyclable waste in a city where the few containers are not enough for all the garbage that is accumulating day by day. While the city explodes of garbage, the municipality has banned this free service offered to the citizens and the city, forbidding also the platforms that bring together recyclable material, to receive the material collected by the Cenciaioli. This is a paradox that triggers a cascade mechanism for which the Cenciaioli are going back in the middle of the streets without work, the platforms loose every day 48,000 € of recyclable materials and the volume of waste around the city grows day by day.