Italy’s Poison Ships: How an International Trade of Hazardous Waste Sparked a Grassroots Struggle for Environmental Justice



The globalization of hazardous waste has been permeating international debates since the 1980s, when the trade of hazardous waste began as a global phenomenon, under the scrutiny of international organizations and policymakers. The Koko Incident involving the trading of chemical waste from Italy to Nigeria between 1987 and 1988 was a pivotal moment in the formulation of the first international regulations concerning the international trade of hazardous waste. However, as this article illustrates, it also brought about major changes in the waste’s European home country, Italy, displaying deep socio-environmental wounds that sparked a fight for environmental justice in the city of Manfredonia.

Author Biography

Claudio De Majo, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, Germany

Claudio de Majo is a PhD candidate at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich). He has carried out research with the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the University of Utrecht, and the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte (Brazil). His publications include articles on the relation between collective action and ecology as well as on evolutionary history. He is a founding member of the American Studies academic journal JAm It! and associate editor of Global Environment.

Toxic waste in the port of Koko.