Today we interview Professor Guido Palazzo on illicit waste supply chains.
Hi Guido, and thanks for joining a CBRA Interview – can you first tell a bit who are you and what you do?
I am a Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Lausanne since 2003. In my research I focus on the dark side of the force. I examine human rights problems in global supply chains, the driving forces of unethical decision making in organizations and the interface of business and organized crime. In the early 2000s, when I started with my research, business ethics was largely marginalized and perceived as rather irrelevant for both business schools and companies. This has changed dramatically in recent years. Ethical questions have moved center stage.
One of your research project focuses on illicit waste supply chains, particularly in Italy. How bad is the situation there?
Since 25 years, organized crime, in particular Camorra and Ndrangheta are involved in the business of toxic waste recycling. This business is ideal from the perspective of a Mafia organization: Legal risks are negligible and profits are huge. Operating with straw firms they offer their services across Europe up to 90% below the prices of their legal competitors. Obviously, they do not really recycle the waste but simply dump it in South Italy mainly in Campania province, but also in Africa and Eastern Europe. We are talking here about slag and chemicals and tire and other forms of waste from hospitals, garment industry, chemical industry, nuclear industry and so on. The waste includes toxins like cyanide, dioxin, asbestos, chlorines and includes also nuclear waste. Since 25 years, millions of cubic meters of such waste have been dumped in a region which the Romans once called Campania Felix for its fruitful soil. Billions of Euros of profit have been made and laundered by banks in Zurich, London and New York. And the most amazing think is that until recently, this destruction of one of the most beautiful regions of Italy occurred in complete silence. Now, toxins have arrived at the ground water and cancer rates of people living around the waste dumps explode.
Sad and interesting – at the same time – to hear about this… If I recall correctly, I gave you couple of months ago a copy of the FP7-CWIT project´s final report – with recommendations and a tangible roadmap to better mitigate risks of illegal activities in electronic waste… Do you foresee opportunities for similar research projects in the field of toxic waste trade, supply chains and logistics?
We do indeed need a similar research project in order to better understand the journey of illegal waste through Europe and the critical points in the supply chain of toxic waste recycling where organized crime interferes. We need public awareness for the urgency of the problem, develop a better regulatory governance around waste recycling and impose a compliance system on companies so that the existing silent collusion can be stopped.
Thanks Guido for this enlightening interview; and let´s start working together – as UNIL, CBRA and other partners – towards future research funding & project, on this crucial environmental and human health protection topic!