NEWS

Tough trash talk from Souflias

Public Works and Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias called on municipal authorities yesterday to move ahead with improved waste-management programs and warned that any EU-imposed fines arising from illegal landfills will be rolled over onto local councils. «We make the policy and monitor its implementation. From this point onward, regional and municipal authorities are responsible for the policy being applied,» said the minister. «The ministry has given them all the tools they need. What they need to do is take them out of the cupboard and use them,» added the minister. Athens is facing a severe problem in managing the 6,000 tons of rubbish the city produces each day. Recycling programs have been slow to take off, leaving almost all the waste to be deposited in landfills that are reaching capacity. Souflias warned councils that if they do not shut down any illegal landfills in their area, then they will be called to pay any arising penalties. Industry experts believe that if Greece does not shut all illegal dumps by the end of the year, then the country will be up for an initial fine of 20,000 euros. Fines of 40,000 euros are then likely to be imposed for every six months that the landfills continue to exist. The government has taken steps to shut down 1,850 of Greece’s 2,626 illegal landfills, however, other dumps have taken their place, according to ministry sources, The minister pointed to the stance adopted by the Union of Municipal Authorities in Attica (ESDKNA) over the years as creating current problems. «Those that left Greece with only landfills (as a means of waste management ) share a large part of the responsibility. The responsibility shared by ESDKNA is also large,» he added. Ministry officials believe that a combination of recycling programs along with treating rubbish with thermal technologies could heavily reduce the volume of rubbish that will be left over for landfills.