Illegal Dumping

News and information about illegal waste dumping. Statistics about waste smuggling and unauthorized dumping is collected from environmental protection agencies and criminal justice programs.

7 Billion Euros ($9.9 Billion) worth of toxic waste is smuggled out of the country each year by members of Italian Mafia clans.

The 7 Billion Euros in illegal trash shipments is higher than the 6 Billion Euro that was smuggled in 2008.

13.1 million tons of toxic waste was smuggled out of Italy  in 2003.

Source:  “Italy: Toxic waste traffic ‘worth 7 billion euros a year’,” Adnkronos, August 11, 2009.
2008 Figure: Robin Pomeroy, “Naples garbage is mafia gold,” Reuters, January 9, 2008.
2003 Figure:  Sophie Arie, “Italy’s Mafia banks on trash,” Christian Science Monitor, August 5, 2004.

More illegal waste dumping intelligence.

Slate Magazine explains why the Mafia is involved in trash smuggling.

It’s Mob Economics 101: Find a business that’s easy to enter and lucrative to control. Criminal organizations make lots of money from drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeit goods, but creating a monopoly on garbage collection is attractive because the business itself is legal, and public contracts return big profits. Compared with something like running a casino or grocery store, the logistics of taking trash from Point A to Point B are a no-brainer. Anyone with a truck and a couple of strong guys can make good money, and there’s always a demand for the service.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, organized crime groups involved in trash smuggling and illegal dumping of waste earn between $10 to $12 Billion a year from their black market activities.


A 2005 report by the European Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) found that ” international trade in waste is rapidly increasing.”

The report mentions the financial profit involved in trash smuggling creates a ” strong incentive for those in the waste chain to avoid controls over the movement and treatment of waste. Financially, there are strong incentives for waste producers, brokers, carriers and others, to exploit any opportunity to avoid these controls.”

(Additional environmental crimes.)


In the European Union, law enforcement found that 48 percent of all waste and trash shipments were illegal.

(Environmental crime statistics.)


49 cases of hazardous waste and trash smuggling containing 8,000 tons of solid waste were uncovered by Chinese Custom officials in 2006.

(Additional crime in China data.)