Battle to Recycle Millions of Ballot Papers – Lost 150,000 trees in the election

Almost 5,000 tons of unused ballot papers.


The extraordinary number of 77 million files and 53,850,000 sheets of ballot papers (107,700 x 500 sheets) had been ordered by the Labor Ministry last February for local elections, the European elections and the national elections following 7 July.

The total cost amounted to 7 million, but the most regrettable of all in this case is the enormous ecological disaster that happened for the triple election as well as for the next month.

Only about 500 to 1,000 tonnes of paper were used in the municipality of Thessaloniki, according to Giorgos Milios, director of one of the largest printing houses in Thessaloniki.

“If we talk about the individual ballots of a combination alone, for the approximately 400,000 registered voters in the municipality of Thessaloniki, we are talking about two to three tons of paper per printing shop. On the other hand, we can talk about about a hundred tons of paper that is necessary only for the ballot papers printed by such a printing press, “Milios said.

Attempts to rescue the paper

Of these 1,000 tons of paper, it was noted that the municipalities of Pylaia-Hortiatis, Thermaikos and Kalamaria, in cooperation with the Central Macedonia Facility for Solid Waste Management (FODSA), collected only twenty tons of the electoral ballots, as part of a paper- .

 The President of the Agency, Michalis Geranis, explains that all other municipalities under their own responsibility collect both the ballot papers and the pre-election material used for recycling.

However, there is no single policy for the recycling of ballot papers. The efforts made by some “eco-friendly municipalities” are isolated. 

In Sparta, the recycling of tons of paper from the increased number of ballot papers used in the recent elections has already begun, as the municipal councilor Stavros Argyropoulos informs.

In Chios, it took two days with 6 trucks of four tons each to transfer the ballots that resulted in recycling.

The Regional Unity of the Northern Sector of Athens had ensured that the electoral centers of its jurisdiction were supplied with paper recycling bins and cartoffs. 

These are the efforts that have been made known. However, it remains unknown how many of these thousands of tons of paper across the territory will eventually be recycled. 


5,000 tons of unused ballot papers

The Friends of Nature Network, in a letter to the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of the Environment and the Municipalities, had called for a pre-election call for the recycling of unused ballots in the European elections and local elections 

According to estimates by its members, unused ballots would reach 5,000 tons of paper at their expense.

80 pounds of paper per tree

 As Geranis points out, “for the European elections and regional elections across Europe, 150,000 trees had to be cut to produce the ballot papers.”

In Scandinavia, the fir tree is mainly used for paper production. The quantity obtained is directly related to the size of the tree and the mass of its trunk. Usually an average tree gives 40kg of stationery (8,000 A4 sheets) and about 80kg if we talk about newspaper paper, which corresponds to that of ballot papers.

After all these sad facts, we are still debating – in the year 2019 – whether the electronic vote must finally come to our country !

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