Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday inaugurated Greece’s first industrial waste-processing plant in Aspropyrgos, west of Athens. The 13.5-million-euro privately operated facility, owned by the Polyeco company, will recycle selected waste to produce alternative fuels for further industrial use. Company President Yiannis Polychronopoulos, who has received a state award for innovative business activity in the past, said Polyeco’s staff had managed to produce the alternative solid and liquid fuels from the waste, aided by two funding programs from the government’s research and technology secretariat. The plant will process and recycle waste such as organic sludge and packaging materials from heavy industrial installations, particularly from neighboring municipalities, but will exclude those that cannot be recycled, such as radioactive materials, pesticides, dioxins and hospital waste. Its activities will include the packaging, labeling and shipping abroad of such materials, and the carrying out of studies for permits to store hazardous waste. The plant’s chemical laboratory has the capacity to test for 65 different hazardous substances. «A lot has been done for environmental protection in Greece but we still lag behind in a number of respects,» said Papandreou. She noted that the recycling of packaging materials became mandatory for industries last month and that much more extensive obligations will be instituted in February next year. Two to three applications have been submitted for licenses for similar plants, she added. She rebuffed local residents protesting the opening of the plant, saying environmental protection was not only a matter for the government, but also for citizens, to promote. Attending the event was Federation of Greek Industries Chairman Odysseas Kyriakopoulos.