The Municipality of Kifissia in northern Athens is set to launch a scheme aimed at recycling organic waste by introducing brown composting bins in a few parts of the suburb, in what is the first phase of a program that will hopefully take hold and spread not just to other parts of Kifissia, but to the rest of Greece as well.
The brown bins will be used to collect organic waste from homes in the area, mostly food (cooked and raw), as well as plant trimmings.
“Each household participating in the scheme will be given a small bin for the kitchen and a biodegradable bag, while each apartment block will get another bin to be placed in a common area. The capacity of the latter is between 120 and 360 liters, depending on the size of the apartment block. Those living in houses as opposed to apartment blocks will be given a 35-liter brown bin of their own, as well as the kitchen bin and bags,” explained Vassilis Xypolytas, Kifissia’s deputy mayor in charge of environmental affairs. “Residents should place their organic waste in the special bins and wheel the bin out into the street the night before collection, which is scheduled to take place twice a week. The bin will then have to be wheeled back into the building by the residents themselves, otherwise it will be removed by the collectors if it’s left out in the street too long.”
The first phase of the pilot scheme will involve 2,000 households and 5,000 residents (some 6 percent of the municipality’s population) in Kato Kifissia, Nea Erythraia (including Kastri), Nea Kifissia and Ekali. Participation in the scheme is voluntary and the distribution of the bins, together with a brief instructive seminar, will be carried out by municipal staff as well as experts from the National Technical University of Athens’s Chemical Engineering Department, which is acting as scientific adviser to the municipality.
The brown bins have already been distributed to a number of homes in the scheme.
“The response from the first round of distribution has been very encouraging,” said Xypolytas. “The residents responded to the scheme with enthusiasm and 80 percent of the people we approached agreed to take part.”
The organic waste collected in Kifissia will then be taken to a processing plant in Fyli, northwest of Athens, to be turned into high-grade compost.
“The participation of the municipality in the program began from a desire to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills,” said the deputy mayor. “If a household is careful about recycling and composting, on average, just 5 percent of its waste will end up at the dump. On a large scale, this could drastically contribute to reducing the environmental footprint of landfills by reducing the amount of methane they release into the atmosphere. Furthermore, any municipality that achieves a considerable reduction in the amount of trash it sends to landfills will also see significant long-term financial benefits, as municipal authorities are charged by the landfills according to the volume of trash they produce, and the bill is passed on to citizens through the municipal tax.”
Thirty-seven percent of the funding for the Kifissia Municipality program is in the form of European Community funds. Meanwhile, the City of Athens is also expected to launch its own pilot scheme within the next few months.