State is selling off waste instead of trying to recycle it

Hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous waste material are sold every year by the state through its various agencies. At the same time as the government is trying to convince citizens of the necessity of recycling, agencies of the state are selling vehicles that are no longer in use, used motor oil, used car batteries and other materials that citizens are being compelled to give up for free. The army, for example, last year auctioned off 386,950 tons of used motor oil, 1,080 vehicles that were not operational and 123,750 tons of batteries. The Organization for the Management of State Resources (ODDY) last year auctioned off some 200 vehicles, while it is estimated that it has another 2,000 in storage. According to recycling groups, this undermines the financial viability of the entire endeavor. State services are required by law to work together with recycling agencies and to hand over to them all waste material (vehicles that have been withdrawn from circulation, batteries and catalytic converters, used motor oil etc). Yet not all state agencies do this. The armed forces, for example, like ODDY as well, continue with business as usual, at the expense of individuals and businesses who are obliged to hand over their scrap material at no cost. These «self-exempted» agencies purport that the sale of waste material is not prohibited by law so long as the buyer works with recycling agencies. Recycling agencies, in turn, argue that the sale of waste material sabotages recycling efforts and, by effect, the country’s environmental policy. EDOE: The managing director of EDOE (the organization for the alternative management of vehicles, a vehicle-recycling unit) Epameinondas Vonazoundas, says: «The law clearly states that when a vehicle has reached the end of its life cycle, it is considered a waste product and thus has zero value on the market. Therefore, the demand by certain organization to receive 60, 70 or even 80 euros for each vehicle they send for recycling, arguing the loss of revenue from the state, is, to say the least, ridiculous.» ELTEPE: Giorgos Deligiorgis, head of motor oil recycler ELTEPE, is of the same mind. «Unfortunately, many continue to believe that hazardous waste material has a commercial value. But it is not just the armed forces. Major state services try to negotiate a price for the motor oil and other fuels they hand over for recycling, hoping they will be able to make an income, which, however, is extremely little for them, but for us comes at great cost. Any practice that makes waste management harder than it needs to be increases its operating costs. This, in turn, means a higher cost to the consumer.» SYDESYS: The head of the battery recycling company, Iraklis Vondikakis, says that «the participation of public agencies such as the army, the navy, the railway organization, the postal service and the police, to name a few, in recycling is long overdue. There are a few examples of agencies that immediately came in line with the effort, such as the Public Power Corporation, the air force, the information technology department of the Finance Ministry and Attiko Metro, among others.»

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