The picture emerging from the investigation conducted in this chapter builds primarily on the idea that the responsibility for what happened in the LoF lies at various levels and involves multiple actors. Organized mafia-like crime does in fact play a significant role in Campania’s waste management sector, and the provincial and local governments’ weak power of enforcement has favoured the infiltration of the Camorra into waste trafficking and disposal. However, this illegal business was already thriving well before the Camorra began to participate in it. In order to understand why it happened, a multiplicity of factors must be considered, from inefficient bureaucracy to political patronage, from criminal malfeasance to the corporate nature of the waste-related crimes. Moreover, since Italian waste legislation did not include any criminal charges applicable to environmental dumping until 2001, this void allowed firms to lower their waste disposal and management costs enormously and allowed organized crime to flourish and gain huge profits.
The collection of primary data by means of semi-structured interviews with opinion leaders of the movement against the waste crisis demonstrates that the increasing level of victims’ organizational activities in the LoF, from 2008 until the present, is creating public awareness of the impact of illegally disposing and burning of waste; this research thus sheds light on the capacity of a civil society to influence policy changes and decisionmakers at the national level. This trend was corroborated by the SNA performed in this chapter; a dense and well-articulated web of relations emerged in the PFAN. This was particularly true after 2008, a well- identified turning point in our study; after 2008 the number of links connecting (mostly) local institutions and the increasing number of activists started growing very quickly, a fact that resulted in the emergence of a stronger collective feeling of being victims of environmental crimes.
The documented central role of activists, local associations, and victims of environmental crimes has been particularly important in pressuring Italian legislation to issue more stringent laws. It is important to remember that the first legislation on waste-related environmental crime was only introduced years after environmental NGOs had already been reporting on the role of organized crime in environmental business, and that the burning of waste has been deemed an environmental crime only after years of denunciation by activists and massive demonstrations in the city of Naples.
With the enactment of the recent Law n. 68/2015, Italy has finally systematically codified its legislation on environmental crimes in line with the European Union (EU) Environmental Crime Directive (2008/99/EC), which maintains that member states must ensure that environmental crimes are punishable by ‘effective, proportional and dissuasive’ penalties’. Although the text is not without criticism, Law n. 68/ 2015 takes a first step towards stricter sanctions against environmental crime by inserting four new types of environmental crimes in the penal code: environmental contamination, environmental disaster, traffic and abandonment of highly radioactive materials, and obstacle to controls. Other important features of the new law are the provisions for aggravating factors for both organized crime groups and mafia-like crime groups and the extension of the prescription period, since the current short statute of limitations is considered a major impediment to convicting many environmental crimes.
However, there is still room in Italy for major changes in terms of preventing future environmental injustices. Notwithstanding the recent normative accomplishments, legislators and institutions still need to make stronger efforts to increase public participation in environmental decision making (e.g. public hearings for environmental impact assessments) and to empower citizens by giving them greater access to pollution data and information. If victims of environmental crimes are to be recognized and protected as such, they will be more likely to combat crime and to contribute to investigations; if they are not, then the criminal justice system will lose important evidence, and their enforcement of the relative laws against criminals will become less effective.