Drive to boost recycling

The government is planning to implement a program offering local authorities more funding and incentives to boost flagging recycling schemes in line with European Union targets, sources have told Kathimerini. The drafting of this program – which aims to boost efficiency in the collection and processing of recyclable waste products – reportedly has been undertaken by the Environment and Public Works Ministry following complaints by local authorities who say they are unable to bear the cost of recycling schemes. Of the country’s 1,034 municipalities, 446 participate in a recycling scheme using the trademark blue bins. Each of these municipalities will receive funding according to the population they serve and the volume of recyclable materials they amass, sources say. The ministry has reportedly also earmarked additional funding for the purchase of extra equipment, chiefly bins. Many local authorities do not have enough. Athens, for instance, has just 2,000 bins, compared to a recommended 6,000. According to the two associations who handle the recycling of household trash, more than 345,000 tons of plastic, glass and paper – and 31,000 tons of discarded electric and electronic appliances – were recycled last year. This is close to the national annual recycling targets of 555,000 tons for household waste and 44,000 tons for discarded appliances. But it falls short of EU standards, as Greece recycles just 24 percent of the volume of its waste, compared to an EU average of 33 percent. Electrocycle, an organization handling the recycling of appliances, says its task has been hampered by the indifference of local authorities but also by the activities of scavengers – chiefly Roma citizens – who gather and sell the items for scrap. «Municipal authorities have sat idle because hawkers gather these appliances from the sidewalks,» said Alexandros Aloukos, one of Electrocycle’s managers. This practice must be curbed as toxic materials get dumped after the valuable metals have been stripped away, said Adamantios Skordilis, a recycling official at the ministry.

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