ECONOMY

Tons of used lubricants are burnt illegally

Thousands of tons of used lubricants are being illegally trafficked and sold for use as cheap fuel, instead of ending up in special processing units, representatives of the Alternative Environmental Management Center revealed in Thessaloniki yesterday. About 40,000 tons of such mineral oil from ships, industries, and car repairers are burned for heating purposes, particularly in northern Greece, which has greater needs, even though traffickers know well the consequences this has on the environment. According to data released by the president of Alternative Management Systems (Hellenic Environmental Technology) Giorgos Deligiorgis, every year in Greece some 85,000 tons of waste mineral oils are produced. State and EU law forces Greece to collect some 60,000 tons by the end of the year. Within the year that the company has operated, the quantity of used lubricants collected has risen by a factor of six, so there is optimism that the EU target will be met soon and the quantities collected will be directed to the five special processing units for alternative use or recycling. Deligiorgis referred to his company’s cooperation with the Greater Thessaloniki Authority, stressing it could become a model for used lubricant management across Greece. Some used mineral oils wind up in the environment without control, and are the gravest threat to the aquifer due to the chemicals they contain. The head of the Southeastern Thessaloniki Environment Management, Nikos Bournis, said the used lubricant problem is very serious and noted the state’s inability thus far to deal effectively with their illegal trafficking due to inadequacies in the legal framework.