EU: Greek waste tac­tics ‘costly’

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A high-rank­ing of­fi­cialof the Euro­pean Union’s en­vi­ron­ment direc­torate yes­ter­day told a seminar in Athens that Greece re­mains an EU lag­gard in waste man­age­ment and that the way it han­dles its trash is not only an eco­log­i­cal scourge but also a costly one that the debt-rid­den coun­try can ill af­ford.

Ad­dress­ing an event or­ga­nized by the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry, Julio Gar­cia Bur­gues noted that Greece sends 82 per­cent of house­hold waste to land­fills while other EU mem­ber states con­tinue to curb the amount of waste dumped. Re­cy­cling has failed to take off too, with only 20 per­cent of waste be­ing re­cy­cled com­pared to 50 per­cent in other mem­ber states. Shut­ting down count­less il­le­gal land­fills should be a pri­or­ity, Bur­gues said, not­ing that these should be re­placed with fa­cil­i­ties that sort and process garbage. “The sit­u­a­tion is far from ideal – Greece is one of the worst coun­tries in the EU when it comes to man­ag­ing its waste,” the of­fi­cial told the seminar, which was at­tended by En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Tina Bir­bili.

Bur­gues said the sit­u­a­tion in Greece was not just of eco­log­i­cal but of fi­nan­cial concern. “Sta­tis­tics show that in­stead of us­ing waste as a re­source for the ac­qui­si­tion of raw ma­te­ri­als and en­ergy, Greece sim­ply buries it, thus los­ing the the re­source,” he said.

For her part, Bir­bili said that the gov­ern­ment’s na­tional ac­tion plan for garbage man­age­ment was due for com­ple­tion in the first quar­ter of 2012. She noted, how­ever, that ac­tion was be­ing taken al­ready. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that do not al­ready have waste pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties have started build­ing them, she said.

Bur­gues held up the ex­am­ple of the Nether­lands – which had 157 land­fills in 1990 and now has just 22 – as one to be fol­lowed by Greece. In the Nether­lands, 52 per­cent of garbage is sep­a­rated at source, re­duc­ing the vol­ume that ends up at land­fills.

The Dutch also op­er­ate some in­cin­er­a­tion fa­cil­i­ties but plan to use these less as re­cy­cling is boosted even fur­ther. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Nether­lands has one of the best records in the EU for ob­tain­ing raw ma­te­ri­als from garbage, with 83 per­cent of trash be­ing reused.

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