The issue of the Parma incinerator has had a particular resonance in public opinion and in the mass media. In March 2012 Federico Pizzarotti, who had focused his election campaign on its closure, was elected mayor with the support of the committee for the proper management of waste. “Environmentalism wins”, the title of some newspapers. At that moment Parma comes from an unprecedented economic and institutional crisis and the incinerator becomes a catalyst for the discontent of citizens in a context not of opposition to the institutions, but of “employability of the institutions” themselves, which however totally reabsorbs the discourse on the incinerator, which today is much more marginal and depoliticised, at a time when the city is recovering and coming out of the crisis. The analysis of how discourses about the Parma incinerator change can be a privileged space for reflection on the potential of environmental issues in mobilizing the population especially in a context of strong economic and social crisis. The “Parma case” is analyzed through an integrated ethnographic methodology that gives account, at the local level, of the complexity, frictions and specificity of the relationship between movements, degree of trust in institutions, economic crisis and perception of problems as well as the relationship between democracy, “uncertain science” and “conflictual”, “scientific truth”, environmentalism, social and political conflicts, new expertise.