The focus of this paper is to critically evaluate if the phenomenon of solid urban waste, as a result of its complexity, pervasiveness and broad social involvement, may be considered as a social cost rather than a pure negative externality. This thesis will be supported through the theory of social costs elaborated by W.K. Kapp. We refer to some regions of Italy, especially to the regions of Campania and Apulia. In Campania, waste became an emergency in 2008 and hence, environmental disruption, since its management has been implemented in both irrational and unsustainable ways. In Apulia, although waste did not become an emergency as in the region of Campania, we can surely affirm that it does not represent a case of both rational and sustainable management. We want to demonstrate that only if waste is considered as a social cost, can it be managed in a more sustainable and integrated manner. Furthermore, in line with Kapp’s ideas, we support the theory that a bad management of waste cannot be solved through the criteria of a monetary evaluation.

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