Gov’t dangles green carrot

The Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works Ministry said yesterday it will offer municipalities financial incentives as part of a three-year plan to triple Greece’s household waste recycling rates that trail European Union averages. Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias said each council will qualify for its share of the 8-million-euro scheme that will be paid depending on how much waste each resident in their vicinity has placed in a recycling bin. Payments will be calculated from the start of the year and will be paid on an annual basis, said Souflias, who has been heavily criticized recently for Greece’s poor record in environmental policies. The scheme will involve each municipality’s waste being sorted, weighed and recorded at recycling centers. The move is considered to be well overdue by experts who have been arguing for a number of years that recycling programs can become more effective only when municipal councils are offered the right financial rewards. About 446 municipalities, less than half the total number, have signed up for the blue bin recycling program. They have complained of being burdened with the cost of collecting the waste without any economic relief. According to Environment Ministry figures, recycling rates in Greece are 9 percent below European Union averages. The ministry’s plan aims at increasing recycled rubbish threefold in 2011 to 200,000 tons per year. Last year’s figures show that 442 tons of batteries were recycled, some 21 percent of the total produced quantity, along with 504,000 tons of electrical appliances – a figure which amounts to just less than half of total appliances produced.