Recycling is essential

These new waste management plants might not be the best solution for the islands. With the exception of two or three large islands, most of those in the Cyclades and Dodecanese are small, and uncontrolled garbage dumps are a major threat to their sensitive ecosystems. «First of all, if one strictly observes all the criteria set by the state for XYTA plants, one would not be able to find any suitable site on many of the islands,» said Professor Constantine Halvadakis of the Aegean University’s waste management laboratory. «Moreover, in most cases our islanders have the mentality of ‘not in my backyard.’ Everyone wants the XYTA, as long as it is not nearby.» Halvadakis said a XYTA plant’s lifespan is determined by how easily it can be expanded. If proper techniques are used, XYTA plants can last between 10 and 15 years. Also, plants can last longer if residents reduce the amount of garbage. Composting organic waste, for example, would be very useful for the islands where soil is of poor quality. «If we set up XYTA to take all waste then we would soon run out of space,» Halvadakis said. According to Halvadakis, the Aegean islands could act as a model for waste management. «It is much easier to convince people in small communities than in a city like Athens to reduce waste and recycle it,» he said. «But first of all the islanders have to realize the long-term benefits.»