Abandoned cars to disappear from sight

As of the new year, Greeks will not only be able to recycle paper, glass and aluminum but also their old cars and motorcycles at approved processing plants where they will be disinfected, taken apart and recycled using environmentally friendly methods as set out in a European Union directive (2000/53). So the hundreds of cars lying abandoned around the country, often obstructing traffic and acting as a health hazard will be put to better use. A presidential decree prepared by the Environment and Public Works Ministry, to be signed soon, will bring Greece in line with European Union legislation that says member states should find alternative ways of disposing of vehicles that have reached the end of their life cycle, by recycling most of their parts. Directives on paper, aluminum, glass and plastic came into effect in April 2002, but for other products such as automobiles and tires, batteries, mineral oils, inert matter, electric and electronic goods, the laws come into effect in February 2003. The new decree includes provisions for vehicles alone, but a new decree will soon be ready for the other materials. Decree’s provisions «Polluters pay» is the motto. Producers and importers, in cooperation with those in charge of processing, will have to either organize themselves, or participate in alternative systems for the collection, transport, temporary storage and exploitation of vehicles and used parts, as well as the systems for reusing them. Their involvement gives them the right to indicate on their vehicles or spare parts that they participate in these systems. To set up one of these companies, a permit is needed from the National Organization for the Alternative Management of Packaging and other Products (EOEDSAP) in which producers/importers will pay an as yet undetermined fee. Until this organization is set up, the responsible authority will be the ministry’s corresponding bureau, affiliated with a 14-member committee of officials from the ministries of Economy and Finance, the Interior, Development, Agriculture and Environment and Public Works, as well as representatives of the unions of paper mills, plastics, metal and glass industries, and distributors, consumers and environmental organizations. Their approval of the applications, expected to be complete by the end of the year, will be valid for six years and is renewable. After an inspection every three years, a certificate will be issued. If specifications are not being adhered to, the authority has the right to issue a warning, and if this is not heeded, approval is withdrawn and fines imposed. There are to be incentives for encouraging the reuse of any useful manufactured parts or their recycling. The authority will also make recommendations to the Environment and Public Works Ministry regarding awards to businesses for successfully using recycled material and recycling of their own products. Things will not change much for vehicle owners themselves. Their only obligation will be to hand in their vehicle to one of these approved centers when it has reached the end of its life cycle and cannot be resold, rather than just abandoning it. In exchange, they will receive a certificate stating that the vehicle has been destroyed. Municipalities will continue to be responsible for abandoned cars. Thirty days after a sign has been affixed to the car warning the owner to remove it, the car becomes the property of the municipality and is handed in to the approved center where it is stored for one more month. If the owner comes forward to claim the vehicle, he is obliged to store it on private property. Many groups have displayed an interest in setting up approved centers, apart from those who have an obligation to do so, such as the association of vehicle importers. The Organization for the Management of Public Property (ODDY), the Thessaly steelworks, Sidenor (a steel firm) and Viohalko (a copper manufacturer) are some of the groups interested in setting up these systems. ODDY has drafted a technical and financial study on the issue. It has the experience, the technical infrastructure and the capacity to set up a unit for disassembling 10,000 cars a year.