Thessaloniki recycling takes off

The amount of trash ending up in Thessaloniki?s rubbish dumps has dropped by about 600 tons thanks to a new recycling campaign in the northern port city, local officials said on Tuesday.

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris and the deputy mayor in charge of sanitation, Thanasis Pappas, said that the reduction in the amount of trash that has to be processed is the equivalent of two days? collections by municipal trucks.

Boutaris said that the aim is to reduce the amount of garbage being sent to Thessaloniki dumps each month by 10 percent. The scheme, which began at the start of the year, is currently leading to a 4 percent reduction every month.

Since the beginning of the year, almost 4,200 tons of paper, glass and aluminum have been recycled. Only five trucks collect recyclable materials but the municipality plans to add another four vehicles to help increase the number of collections.

Also, municipal workers on Tuesday began distributing another 650 blue recycling bins around the city as part of an effort to increase the total number to some 2,000.

Boutaris said that the recycling program was a huge ?bonus? for the city. ?It is one of the areas the municipality is focusing on as it reduces the volume of trash [that goes to dumps] and brings in revenues [from recycling],? he told journalists.

Local authorities are planning to begin an awareness campaign in the next few days at 300 schools as well as local businesses and stores. Boutaris suggested that the municipality is examining ways to make businesses that do not recycle pay extra for their trash collection. There are also plans to arrange special recycling programs for stores in the city center. Among the materials that will be collected are paper and cooking oil.

Boutaris said that his officials were cooperating with those from the municipality of Nice in France to generate ideas about how to process waste. This includes plans for the construction of waste management centers that would generate energy.