Recycling to get injection of cash, bins

The Environment and Public Works Ministry yesterday pledged to pay for 5,500 new blue recycling bins to be placed around Athens and other cities in the next few months plus a further 20,000 bins within the next two years in a bid to meet European Union standards on recycling. Of the initial 5,500 bins, 2,000 will be set up in Athens, 1,500 in Piraeus, 1,000 in Thessaloniki and the remaining 1,000 in other parts of Attica and on the island of Icaria, the ministry said. The government also plans to launch a new scheme aimed at compensating local authorities for recycling large volumes of trash. Each authority would receive funding proportionate to the amount of trash gathered per resident per year. A proposed target for local authorities is for each resident to recycle between 20 and 25 kilos of garbage per year. The ministry’s aim is to triple the volume of household trash collected for recycling per year so that it reaches 200,000 tons in 2011, from 68,000 tons in 2007. Another target is to increase the number of blue recycling bins to 100,000 from 52,000 by the same deadline. Minister Giorgos Souflias said these targets were achievable. «We have already managed to quadruple recycling levels since 2004,» Souflias said, noting that the volume of trash recycled last year accounted for 25 percent of total trash volume compared to a rate of 6 percent in 2004. It is unclear whether the government’s compensatory scheme for local authorities will run alongside another one being organized by local authorities in Athens that aims to reward citizens who recycle their trash with coupons entitling them to discounts at supermarkets. Some experts have expressed concern that the compensatory system might hinder the progress of the blue bin scheme.

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