Less waste to help end trash woes

The newly separated Environment Ministry intends to tackle Attica’s growing household trash problem by creating more centers that will sort the rubbish so most of it is recycled rather than dumped in landfills, it was revealed yesterday. Environment Minister Tina Birbili said that it is vital that Greece sort out its waste management problems quickly or risk losing out on European Union funding and, worse still, being fined for continuing to operate rubbish dumps. «There is a real danger that we will lose European funds and we will have to pay massive fines instead, which will throw public finances off course,» Birbili told reporters. «Our main aim is to move toward a modern and comprehensive waste management system which will lead to a reduction of waste, more recycling, and the landfilling of only what is left.» The minister said that the first move toward reducing the volume of rubbish that is landfilled was to build a waste processing center at the facility that is being created at Grammatiko in northeastern Attica. The controversial project has been held up by protests from locals but Birbili believes that if the waste is sorted so that only a small percentage is actually deposited there, with the rest being recycled, it will be easier for residents to accept the landfill’s presence. Birbili’s plans may face an unexpected holdup though, as it emerged yesterday that work at Grammatiko has been suspended after the remains of what appears to be an ancient building were discovered during excavation work. Construction will not continue until the remains have been examined. Birbili also said the government was suspending for six months a controversial law allowing homeowners to put in order illegally altered parts of their homes (known as «imyipaithrioi» – «semi-open» in Greek) in return for paying a fine. Birbili said that the law, passed in the summer by the New Democracy government, was simply designed to increase public revenues and would be re-examined.