Kouroupitos eyesore is now a model waste management unit

The old landfill site at Kouroupitos near Hania, on the island of Crete, once shamed the country and resulted in heavy fines from the European Union. Now under restoration, the former eyesore is now next to a state-of-the-art waste management installation where 25 percent of all waste sent there by the participating municipalities is recycled. The Intermunicipal Solid Waste Management Enterprise (DEDISA) in which most of the prefecture’s municipalities participate, serves some 150,000 people. Most of the material is usable and salable. At the end of the sorting process, «the sorted materials are compressed and packaged, ready for transport and sale,» Costas Paterakis told Eco. «We sell off-white and brown paper, as well as cardboard in Athens, fine plastic film in Iraklion, plastic and polyethylene plastic in Patras, tetrapaks in Athens and steel and aluminium in Hania.» There is a difficulty with glass because Yioula, the only glassworks in Greece, does not yet have a bottle-separating unit. The waste processing unit also produces good compost. «The compost is cleared of foreign bodies (such as plastic) using sieves and a combination of aerodynamic and ballistic separation. The materials are mixed with chopped branches in rapid composting tanks and stirred for four weeks, producing an excellent material which acts as a soil improver,» explained Erofili Gagan. Despite its high quality, the compost has not sold well because customers prefer to use cheaper materials. Part of it was used to cover the Mesomouri landfill. Lefteris Kopasis, DEDISA’s managing director, believes public works, at the very least, should make use of products from recycling factories. «The whole system may need perfect planning and economic logic in order to survive, but it would not succeed if it were not for the zeal and participation of both the public and the workers,» commented Kopasis. «Some say Greeks are not ready for recycling, but the response from the people of Hania has been impressive. Plenty of people put washed containers in the bins,» he said. «Neighborhoods keep asking for recycling bins, even though it means fewer parking spaces.» This is an extract from an article in the January issue of Kathimerini’s supplement Eco.