Plastic mounts in trash cans

Greeks are still well behind most Europeans when it comes to recycling their trash, which contains a rapidly increasing amount of plastic, scientists conducting the first study for more than two decades on the contents of Greek garbage told Sunday’s Kathimerini. When the last research of this kind was conducted in Greece, scientists found that 56 percent of the rubbish that Greeks threw away was biodegradable items such as food leftovers. In 1983, 20 percent of garbage bag contents were accounted for by waste paper while plastic bottles and containers only made up 7 percent of the trash then being thrown out by Athenians. Academics and students of the Environmental Laboratory of Athens University are currently analyzing the contents of the rubbish that makes it to the city’s landfill and have found that there have been some substantial changes. They told Sunday’s Kathimerini that according to the research they have conducted so far, biodegradable materials now make up just 40 percent of garbage in Athens. The amount of waste paper has increased to 29 percent while the number of plastic containers being thrown out have doubled over the last two decades to 14 percent. «These differences show that our habits as well as product packaging have changed,» Adamantios Skordilis, a Public Works and Environment Ministry official involved in the research, told Kathimerini. «For example, we used to buy fruit and vegetable with leaves and stems but now we want everything nicely packaged,» he added. Skordilis said that despite efforts to make Greek consumers more aware of the environmental impact of recycling, Greece is still lagging behind most of European partners. He said that 14 percent of rubbish in Greece is recycled, whereas the European average is 33 percent. However, Skordilis said progress is being made since Greece was only recycling some 6 percent of its trash as recently as five years ago. He estimates that by 2008, Greece will double the amount of rubbish it recycles, to 28 percent.