Recycling worries resurface

Greeks must take recycling seriously and support environmentally friendly efforts if the government is to successfully implement overdue programs, experts told Sunday’s Kathimerini. Giorgos Lolos, an environmental engineer, said the government has failed to communicate the importance of such programs to consumers. «The largest part of the blame for the negligence lies with the Environment Ministry,» he said. Other industry sources pointed out that the construction of recycling facilities is easy but motivating people to use them is more challenging. In recent years, recycling bins have appeared in a number of neighborhoods in Attica, which produces 40 percent of the country’s solid waste, but often they appear to be unused. The issue, however, has become more pressing as daily waste production per person in Greece has risen by 52 percent since 1997, hitting 1.41 kilos in 2005. The EU average stands at 1.48 kilos per person. The government needs to act fast to avoid paying for delays. By the end of the year, the European Commission is scheduled to rate Greece’s programs and the percentage of waste being reused. Experts said the managing of recycling technology can only be efficiently performed by private firms. Alexandros Economopoulos, professor of waste management at the University of Crete, said that the legal framework to support such private sector initiatives needs to be changed. «If the government wants to trust the private sector with this important transition (to complete recycling programs)… then it needs to stop favoring monopolistic tactics and open the market so it will favor competition,» he said.