Islands must boost recycling

The absence of a comprehensive system for recycling thousands of tons of waste produced on the islands of the Cyclades is causing irreparable environmental damage and is likely to harm the tourism on which these small communities rely, ecologists have told Kathimerini. «Each island’s chief asset is its environment; we cannot destroy this with the uncontrolled dumping of waste,» said Antonis Mavropoulos, who heads a committee of scientists at the Hellenic Solid Waste Management Association (HSWMA). He said that the widespread practice of home composting would be very useful but he also proposed the use of various new technologies for creative solutions to the islands’ waste disposal problem. «We could have a floating recycling center that would tour the islands, collect the trash from each community and then sort it,» Mavropoulos said. He stressed the importance of the government providing subsidies for such a center, which could serve the 21 major islands in the Cyclades and perhaps some of the dozens of smaller islands in the group. Philippos Kyrkitsos, president of the Ecological Recycling Society (Ecorec), said that well-organized cooperation was as important as funding. «If the situation is to improve, then all sides – recycling organizations, local authorities and the central government – must work together and focus on the islands.» Experts warn that if action is not taken now, the situation may become unmanageable over the next few years. Last year, the Cycladic islands produced some 67,000 tons of solid waste but this figure is expected to climb to 95,000 tons in 2018 and to 130,000 tons in 2028, if the current system is not modernized. Experts propose Cephalonia, in the Ionian Sea, and the Aegean island of Syros as good examples of island communities that have made impressive progress with recycling. Authorities on Cephalonia, where a recycling program is in its second year, claim to have reduced the volume of local waste going to landfills by up to 25 percent.