ECONOMY

European Commission presses for different approach to Attica waste

The government will have to consider holding a new tender for Attica?s waste management services, as current plans for a solution to the burgeoning problem do not meet the requirements of recent European directives, a European Commission official told Kathimerini recently, also stressing that the economic crisis will make it hard for the country to find investors interested in undertaking the task.

It appears that the government had been making plans to commission private companies with the collection, sorting and disposal of waste in every part of the country through private-public partnerships. However, when it comes to Attica, which accounts for around one-third of the country?s population, the Commission is looking for a different approach.

The initial tender for Attica?s waste management was announced on August 22 last year, yet it cannot be finalized until it receives the approval of the Attica Regional Authority, which has postponed meeting on the issue three times since then. The tender is for installations capable of collecting, processing and managing 1.35 million tons of garbage annually for a period of 20-25 years, allowing the successful bidder to choose the technology that will be used.

?The situation needs to be re-evaluated so that instead of promoting large-scale dumps, the state looks at ways of bringing a system of waste sorting and management closer to the source,? George Kremlis, the European Commission?s deputy head of cohesion policy at the Environment Directorate, told Kathimerini. ?The tender for Attica reflects the ?large-scale project? mentality, which is one of the problems we are still paying for today. Waste management, however, needs a different approach; it needs to start in the household and in the municipality.?

According to Kremlis, the problems with the tender for Attica?s waste disposal are not just limited to the differences between the current plan and European guidelines.

?The project, as it is being put to tender, foresees the management of almost 100 percent of waste produced in Attica, in order to justify massive installations for its management. In fact, in its tender, the state has guaranteed a certain volume of garbage over a period of two decades, which, given the current economic crisis, is a very risky assumption to make. Moreover, given its size, it is very likely that the installation will run into serious funding problems,? Kremlis said.

According to a source at the Environment Ministry who asked to remain unnamed, ?different alternatives are being explored. Discussions are being held between the ministry and the regional authority, and we are expecting feedback from the regional authority soon.?