Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis and a local businesswoman on Santorini hold up a T-shirt promoting the campaign for restricting the use of plastic mineral water bottles during a visit to the island last Sunday. [ANA-MPA]
The southern Aegean island of Santorini is seeking to set higher standards in waste management and recycling practices to become a paradigm for other parts of the country facing landfill problems.
Thanks to a program run by the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HRRCO) and the municipal authority of Thira, the number of blue recycling bins across the popular holiday island has reached 455, while there are plans for an additional 200.
The number of bell-shaped collection receptacles for glass, moreover, has doubled to 50 with the addition of 25 new single-stream bins.
During a recent visit to the island, Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said that there are also plans to install separate bins across the island for collecting aluminum. “Also, as part of this program, talks have taken place with the operators of Santorini’s airport so that four collection streams can be set up there by autumn,” he added.
The minister went on to herald the closure of the landfill that currently serves the island – poorly due to its small capacity and outdated technology – saying that an interim solution is being sought for how the island’s trash will be managed until a new, modern waste management facility is constructed via a private-public partnership.
HRRCO is already working closely with 80 businesses on Santorini that have volunteered to collect plastic mineral water bottles – which are a huge problem on many islands whose water is brackish and not safe for consumption – as well as to help in a campaign for limiting their use.
“We are also seeking to restrict single-use plastics, which will be abolished in 2021 as part of the government’s policy,” Hatzidakis said last Sunday.
“We want Santorini to set an example not just for the other islands of the Cyclades and the southern Aegean, but also for Greece as a whole. Because when it comes to recycling, we are not even in the 20th century, but somewhere in the 19th,” the minister quipped.
“Today marks a new start in the effort – with the support of the local authority – to win the battle of modern waste management practices,” he added.
The proposal for replacing the current landfill with a modern waste management facility built jointly by the Greek state and a private firm, as is already the case in Epirus and Serres, in northwestern and northern Greece respectively, has already been submitted to the Development Ministry.
“It is shameful that, in the year 2020, we have 14 uncontrolled landfills operating in the country’s most popular tourism destinations. Our aim is to shut them all down by 2022 so that there are no more uncontrolled landfills in the Cyclades or Dodecanese islands,” Hatzidakis said.