No time to waste on trash issue

The threat of a strike at Attica’s only landfill has been averted and judges are set to decide this week whether to allow the construction of three new dumps around Athens, though experts told Sunday’s Kathimerini that this is the perfect time to overhaul the way Athenians dispose of their garbage. Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, is due to rule on Wednesday whether the construction of landfills at Fyli, Keratea and Grammatiko can go ahead. Local authorities have objected to the plans but with the only other dump at Ano Liosia nearing capacity, the government has stuck by this option as the only possible solution to Attica’s trash problem. Authorities have been trying to find new sites for landfills for over 20 years. However, there is concern that the creation of new dumps will simply be a short-term solution that will not stem the flow of garbage. «Now is probably the most suitable moment to overhaul our waste management methods,» Petros Philippou, president of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities (TEDK) told Sunday’s Kathimerini. «The current system is not working. Europe is heading toward a model where up to 80 percent of waste is recycled and only 20 percent is buried.» Experts think that recycling in Athens could halve the 5,000 tons of rubbish collected each day. Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis launched a domestic waste recycling program for Athens in June but it is one of few such initiatives in operation. Under European Union directives, Greece has to shut down all its illegal dumps by 2007 and recycle a minimum of 55 percent of packaging by 2011.