Why Is Germany Collecting Italy's Trash?

Multimillion dollar deal to see Green Germans disposing of Italy's garbage.

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 1:40 AM

PASSAU, Germany, June 11, 2008 — -- Germany appears to be the only country in Europe that is in a position to help Italy tackle its massive trash problem, which came to light when the city of Naples ran out of places to dump its trash, forcing the Italians to turn to its European partners for help.

The two countries recently cut a multimillion dollar deal that allows Italy to dispose of up to 160,000 tons of waste and ship it to Germany for incineration.

Most of the Italian waste comes from the region of Campania, which includes the Amalfi coast, Pompeii and Naples, which has been under a kind of "garbage siege" since last December, when the dumps in southern Italy were declared full and garbage collectors refused to collect the trash.

Ever since, Naples has seen thousands of tons of trash pile up along its streets. The city has become notorious as the city of garbage.

The deal brokered by the two countries means that over the next three months three to four trains per week will arrive at the northern German town of Hamburg after a 45-hour ride all the way from southern Europe, each train bearing some 700 tons of refuse.

Up to 60,000 tons of trash will be collected from the streets of Naples alone, and another 100,000 tons will be made up of household waste from around the Campania area.

Other German cities, like Bremerhaven and Düsseldorf, are partners in the deal. They are sharing the trash in order to put their state-of-the art incinerators to work, but Hamburg can easily handle up to 3,000 tons per week in addition to managing its own trash.

The Italians are reportedly paying approximately $235 per ton, and paying for the transport as well. Hamburg officials admit that the city makes good money helping the Italians.

However, they insist they can provide only a short-term solution.

"Our incinerators have excess capacity because it's summertime, which allows us to provide 'first aid' to Naples. There's no way we can provide a long-term solution, but we do have the capacity available to help Naples out from under," Reinhard Fiedler, spokesman for Hamburg's waste management agency, told ABC News.