Municipal authorities across Greece have until the end of the year to come up with a plan to halve the amount of solid waste that ends up at landfills, Alternate Environment Minister Sokratis Famellos told an event in Thessaloniki over the weekend.
The initiative is aimed at improving sorting between organic, recyclable and non-recyclable waste at the source, bringing Greece in line with European Union commitments.
Progress, however, has been sluggish at best.
Xenos Maniatogiannis, the mayor of Vrilissia, a northern Athens suburb and the only municipality in the entire Attica region to have an operational composting program, said that despite a vigorous public information campaign on the introduction two years ago of brown composing bins – alongside blue recycling bins and regular green or green-covered trash bins – Vrilissia still composts less than 10 percent of its total waste, or 1,000 to 1,500 tons a year.
“You need to redesign collection routes, reassign staff, arrange for collection two or three times a week and make sure the bins are well cleaned so they don't smell,” he said.
“We sent information leaflets to residents via their water bills and went door-to-door. We campaigned every event held in the municipality, be it cultural or athletic.”
On the upside, Maniatogiannis added that the municipal authority has saved 250,000 euros a year thanks to the initiative and was able to reduce the municipal tax paid by residents by 5 percent.