Bill aims to close down landfills, curb EU fines

Draft legislation aimed at minimizing European Union fines for noncompliance with waste management directives, which was submitted in Parliament Monday, foresees the closure of all illegal landfills in Greece in the next six months with or without the consensus of regional and local authorities.

The proposed reform, which was tacked onto a broader health bill, permits the transfer of waste by sea in a bid to facilitate several islands that lack waste facilities. The cost of transferring the waste is to be split between local authorities and firms that manage recycling, such as the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HERRCO) which oversees the successful “blue bin” initiative. Local authorities are to foot the bill for biodegradable waste and firms including HERCCO, which have posted budget surpluses, will pay for moving recyclable trash.

At the outset, regional authorities must coordinate with the local authorities in drafting a plan to close illegal landfills in their vicinity and replace them with sanitary alternatives. The plans must be put into practice within two months from now, after having been approved by Dimitris Kalogeropoulos, the general secretary for coordinating waste management at the Interior Ministry. In the event that local authorities are unable or unwilling to cooperate in the implementation of plans, the ministry can transfer the project to another public or private body, according to the bill.

The legislation comes just a few weeks after the European Court of Justice imposed a 10-million-euro fine on Greece for failing to close down dozens of illegal landfills and comply with European waste management directives. The court also ordered the country to pay an additional 14.5 million euros for every six months that the illegal dumps remain operative.