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Urban waste incinerator of Acerra, Italy


The project and the construction of the waste incinerator with energy recovery of Acerra is to be framed within the “state of emergency” for the management of urban trash declared by the Central Government in the Campania Region from 1994 to 2009. The “emergency” allowed for the application of special laws and the derogation of ordinary ones.

Following the declaration of the “emergency", the Government appointed a Commissioner for the tasks of: 1) drafting a Regional Plan for garbage disposal; 2) assigning the contract for the construction of facilities through a tender. The Regional Plan established the construction of two incinerators, seven facilities for the production of Refused Derived Fuel (RDF) and several landfills. In 1998, it was issued the tender for the assignment to a private entity of the entire waste cycle. The tender ended in 2000 and the winner was the FIBE (a temporary association of private entities coordinated by the Italian Impregilo). FIBE won the tender because it offered a price for waste disposal lower than competitors and shorter deadlines for delivering the plants. Instead, the technical quality of such proposal was evaluated very poor [1].

Moreover, the FIBE, through not transparent procedures, was successful in imposing to the Commissioner very advantageous conditions for its business. First, the possibility of managing through incineration the totality of garbage annually produced in the Region without implementing recycling schemes; second, the adoption of the deliver or pay mechanism, according to which each municipality must give to the private entities predetermined quantity of waste or pay the difference; and third, FIBE obtained the authorization to store the RDF produced before the completion of incinerators in temporary storage sites throughout the Region [2]. The Commissioner left the decision on the localization of facilities to the companies involved, and FIBE decided unilaterally to build an incinerator of 600,000 t/y in the Pantano area belonging to Acerra municipality, in a territory already ecologically compromised.

The "state of emergency" allowed to bypass the VIA (Valutazione Impatto Ambientale: environmental impact evaluation) before constructing the incinerator. However, later on, the Ministry of the Environment issued 27 prescriptions for planning and technological adaptation. According to the initial agreements, the incinerator had to be built in 300 days, but due to the company's technical inability, it took five and half years.

In 2000, Acerra's citizens learned of the incinerator construction and soon after a citizens committee was created against it. The latter has collected and disseminated information about the waste cycle, has proposed alternative procedures for waste management and has denounced irregularities and abuses. From 2002 to 2004 the construction site was occupied by Acerra's citizens. Moreover, a garden, social activities and information campaigns were set up in the area.

The incinerator was opposed based on locally performed environmental, health-related, social and economic evaluations. Acerra's citizens have organized several demonstrations against the construction of the incinerator. In 2004, the "Zero Waste Italian Network" was founded in Acerra and several citizens committees started organizing autonomous recycling schemes. In August 29 2004, a demonstration, of 30,000 people was brutally repressed by police forces, heavily influencing the outflow of citizen participation.

In 2005, the judiciary has seized those RDF facilities processing the waste that were not in accordance with the law. In 2008, the Italian Government has permitted the incineration of the illegal RDF and of the unprocessed waste as well. Moreover, CIP6 renewable energy incentives have been extended also to incinerators, thus guaranteeing high profits to managers of such facilities.

The incinerator was opened in 2009. Its management has passed from FIBE to A2A, a company from Brescia, while the incinerator was bought by the Campania Region.

Today the incinerator works at full capacity. Citizens’ mobilization has never stopped and the local community continue to demand the shutting down of the incinerator. Monetary compensations for hosting the facility never arrived to Acerra’s people.

Currently, there are not independent bodies for the control of the emissions, the polluted areas of the agricultural land have not yet been reclaimed and there are still high health risks caused by contamination.

Basic Data

NameUrban waste incinerator of Acerra, Italy
ProvinceProvince of Naples, Campania Region
SiteLocality of Pantano in Acerra
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level

Source of Conflict

Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesDomestic municipal waste

Project Details and Actors

Project DetailsIn 1999 FIBE won the tender for the management of urban waste in Campania. In 2000 the construction site of the incinerator was opened with the consent of VAS (Valutazione Ambientale Strategica: strategic environmental evaluation) but not that of VIA. The construction site was interrupted almost immediately because of failure in the design phase and the consequent changes asked by the Ministry of Environment.

In 2007 the Public Prosecutor of Naples has indicted several people involved in the waste management during the investigation on the waste crisis in Naples. They were charged with aggravated and continued fraud against the State and abuse of authority. Among these, is Antonio Bassolino, who was Special Commissioner and President of the Campania Region, and the CEOs of Impregilo, Fibe and Fisia Italimpianti societies. These companies have been accused of building unsuitable incinerators and of producing poor quality RDF. This was possible thanks to the help of the Commissioner to the Emergency, who has omitted the required checks. Nevertheless, in 2013 the defendants were all acquitted.

Since the completion of the facilities, the Italian Government has entrusted the incinerator management to the A2A society. In 2012, the Campania Region bought the incinerator from the Impregilo society thanks to 355 million of euro from the EU funds.

The waste incinerator of Acerra burns 600.000 tons of waste per year and can receive RDF that does not comply with environmental standards. This incinerator has 3 oil-starting-system ovens that are able to dispose up to 27 tons per hour. Moreover, there are three steam generators that activate a turbine able to produce 107 MWe, sufficient for the energetic needs of 200,000 households per year. The A2A society gets 49.9% of the proceeds by selling the produced electricity to the National Dispenser of energy services. In addition, it earns from waste taxes paid by Municipalities. Between 2009 and 2013, the A2A society has earned € 250 million from the management of the plant [3].
Project Area (in hectares)16 ha
Level of Investment (in USD)400,000,000.00 USD
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population60,000 citizens of Acerra
Start Date01/01/2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesFibe s.p.a. (FIBE) from Italy
Salini-Impregilo from Italy
Edilcar from Italy - Subcontract builder
A2A s.p.a. from Italy - Manager of the incinerator
Relevant government actors- Commissioner for the waste emergency.

- Ministry of the Environment.

- President of the Campania Region.

- Prefect of Naples.

- Civil Protection.

- Judiciary.

- European Union.

- Mayor of Acerra.
International and Financial InstitutionsAssociazione Bancaria Italiana (Abi) from Italy
Capitalia spa from Italy
Banca Intesa from Italy
San Paolo Imi from Italy
Gruppo Unicredito Italiano from Italy
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersLocal organizations:

- Comitato contro il Megainceneritore di Acerra.

- Donne 29 Agosto.

- Aprile Laboratorio Politico.

- MDA - Movimento Disoccupati di Acerra.

Regional organizations:

- Coordinamento Regionale Rifiuti ((

- Assise di Palazzo Marigliano (

National organizations:

- Associazione Medici per L’Ambiente – ISDE Italia (

- Zero Waste Italy (

International organizations:

- Zero Waste Europe (

- Global Alliance Against Incinerators – GAIA ((

The Conflict and the Mobilization

Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Hunger strikes and self immolation


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Mine tailing spills, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Other- Exhaust gas emission for waste transport. V

- Increase in waste P
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Otherdamage to agriculture


Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Development of AlternativesIn 2001 the "Movement against the Mega-incinerator of Acerra" has proposed to the Commissioner an alternative plan for waste management in Campania. This plan was based upon reducing, reusing and recycling waste materials. The Movement was not only against the incinerator but also against the entire waste management plan as designed by the Commissioner, which assumed a private management geared to the maximization of profits for the private investors. In 2004, supported by the "Zero Waste Italian Network", it has been proposed a plan for a more complex recycling, based on curbside collection and on incentives derived from waste taxes deduction. In 2005, the "Acerra Movement", in the absence of waste recycling managed by the responsible institutions, has set up an auto-organized recycling, by entering into agreement with local administration, centers of materials recycling and citizens.

Some of the proposals that were elaborated within the Acerra’s struggles have become a common legacy for the movements emerged in Campania during the years of “emergency”, and have been taken as a model by several institutional leaders, such as the Major of Naples.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.At the end, the incinerator was built but the Government suppressed demonstrations with the use of police force. Other committees, which were subsequently launched in Campania, took the struggle against the incinerator construction as a model. Besides that, some institutional leaders have been positively influenced by their proposals.

Sources and Materials


- Decreto legge n. 61 dell'11 maggio 2007, convertito in legge n. 87 del 5 luglio 2007

- Decreto legge n. 90 del 23 maggio 2008, convertito in legge n. 123 del 14 luglio 2008

- Decreto-legge n. 172 del 6 novembre 2008

- Decreto n. 195 del 17 dicembre 2009

- Ordinanza del Presidente del Consiglio dei ministri dell'11 febbraio 1994, n. 35.;jsessionid=Jk+4sAydUnNKW2q17G0e+A__.ntc-as2-guri2a?atto.dataPubblicazioneGazzetta=1994-02-12&atto.codiceRedazionale=094A0989&elenco30giorni=false


Gabriella Gribaudi, Il ciclo vizioso dei rifiuti campani, “Il Mulino”, 2008

Paolo Rabitti, ECOBALLE Tutte le verità su discariche, inceneritori, smaltimento abusivo dei rifiuti, Aliberti editore, 2008, pp. 37 – 43.

Alessandro Iacuelli, Le vie infinite dei rifiuti, 2008, pp. 125 e segg.

Termovalorizzatore di Acerra, Corriere del mezzogiorno.

Alberto Grosso, Vito Marinella, Rifiuti. Produzione e gestione in Campania, Agenzia regionale per il recupero dell'ambiente, Napoli, 2008.

Tommaso Sodano, Nello Trocchia, La Peste. La mia battaglia contro i rifiuti della politica italiana, Rizzoli, 2010

Senior K. and Mazza A. Italian “Triangle of Death” linked to waste crisis. The Lancet Oncology 5, 525–527, 2004.

Giacomo D’Alisa et al. Conflict in Campania: waste emergency or crisis of democracy. Ecological Economics 70, pp. 239–249, 2010.

ARPAC Campania, Siti contaminati in Campania, 2008.

Una Montagna di Balle, regia di Nicola Angrisano, prodotto da Insu tv, 77’, 2009.

D’Alisa et al.(2010) Conflict in Campania: Waste emergency or crisis of democracy, Ecological Economics, 70, 2

Relazione del sopralluogo effettuato presso l'impianto di termovalorizzazione di Acerra, sito nella zona industriale in località Pantano (PDF), Provincia di Napoli, 28 luglio 2010:

Bollettino dell’Assise della città di Napoli e del Mezzogiorno d’Italia, gennaio – febbraio 2008. (PDF):

Assise della città di Napoli e del Mezzogiorno d'Italia, Osservazioni al Piano Regionale Rifiuti Urbani della Regione Campania, 2007. (PDF).:

SOGIN-CESI, su incarico del Commissario di Governo, “Caratterizzazione e analisi degli inquinanti di suoli nel comprensorio di Acerra”, 2003. (PDF):


Coordinamento Regionale Rifiuti – CO.RE.RI.

Assise della città di Napoli e del Mezzogiorno d’Italia.

Laboratorio Campano, Inceneritore di Acerra

L’inceneritore e le ceneri di Acerra, Napoli Monitor (storia orale del conflitto)

Media Links

Acerra contro l’inceneritore 29 agosto 2004

L’inceneritore di Acerra tra malfunzionamenti, inchieste giudiziarie e contestazioni

Manifestazione ad Acerra del 15 marzo 2008

Protesta contro l’inceneritore del 25 gennaio 2014

Other Documents


Proteste Acerra

Scontri Acerra

Corteo Acerra


Meta Information

ContributorSalvatore Paolo De Rosa - [email protected] (ENTITLE)
Last update28/02/2015



Proteste Acerra


Scontri Acerra


Corteo Acerra