According to the Greek Recycling Agency (for 2018), recycling in most islands is very limited. With the exception of some islands in the Cyclades and some isolated islands, such as Lipsi or Skiathos, most island municipalities recover little for their population and tourism. More than 20 islands are not even recycled, 19 islands in the Aegean still have landfills.
Mr. Vangelis Kapetanios served as Secretary General of Waste Management in 2014-2019. “Unfortunately, with few exceptions for mayors or mayors, most had not taken the matter seriously. And I’m not saying this from a political point of view, regardless of where they come from. There was no single deal. Where there was a design, it was not based on European reality, nor on the fines we saw coming. In the islands, of course, because of their peculiarity, things were even more difficult, “he explains.
Drawings on papers
Following the modification of the national planning and regional plans, at the end of 2016, municipalities began to develop local management plans. Only most have never implemented them. “Every island has its own reality,” says Captain. “Seasonality – most of the population doubles or triples in the summer – and pressures from tourism limit the technological solutions that can be applied. There cannot be a management plant on an island of 1,000 inhabitants, there is no economy of scale. In some islands such as Hydra and Santorini, land is not available either because of city restrictions or because of the very high values. In others, such as Lesvos, Chios and Samos, migration flows have been brought up. The Memorandum of Understanding has limited the possibility of recruiting or renewing equipment. These were the objective difficulties. But the problem is that the mayors themselves did not work to implement their local plans. As trivial as it sounds, the resources are there, through the EU. However, the Regions were delaying the calls (funding proposals) and the municipalities did not participate because they did not have mature projects. Unfortunately this is the situation. ” and municipalities were not involved because they did not have mature projects.
After four years in this post, Mr Captain estimates that his successor, Manolis Grafakos, should focus on rapid implementation of the plans. “Don’t waste time with political balances, push hard on municipalities and regions to implement planning.”
But is existing design the solution? Antonis Mavropoulos, president of the International Solid Waste Management Association (ISWA), has the opposite view. “Our islands have their own peculiarities: they are many and have an incredible seasonality. High-quality solutions with such high flexibility that they serve a minimal tonnage in winter and a huge one in summer are absent. So this raises a question of viability for any solution. But there are other problems. Lack of space makes finding a solution difficult – in some islands such as Folegandros, they don’t even have the soil to cover the trash. While communication with mainland Greece is problematic in winter. All this, coupled with the uneven tourist development, creates an explosive mix that in my opinion is not treated with new landfills. “
Mr Mavropoulos believes that a new model should be tested. “I believe that not every municipality alone can solve the problem, especially the small islands that are the ‘jewel’ of our country. There has to be a new plan, with three features: First, recycling the organic on-site, with source selection and mandatory hotel and restaurant participation. After all, most islands need compost as a conditioner. Secondly, the tourism industry should play an active role in the sorting and recycling of all packaging. And thirdly, both recyclables and waste should be transported to mainland Greece for management on the basis of a decentralized transport plan. All that has to be set up on the islands are closed transhipment stations, which are sufficient for 10-15 days. If needed, subsidize the use of special vessels for transport. In my opinion, this is a economically viable solution that is already being implemented abroad. For example, in Capri, Italy, they only keep the organic, the rest are shipped to Naples. No one is thinking of wasting space on this island. It is a prerequisite to establish a central monitoring service for the small islands, as they do not have staff and to decide which (larger) islands will serve their neighbors. The system, as it is today, cannot work. ” No one is thinking of wasting space on this island. It is a prerequisite to establish a central monitoring service for the small islands, as they do not have staff and to decide which (larger) islands will serve their neighbors. The system, as it is today, cannot work. ” No one is thinking of wasting space on this island. It is a prerequisite to establish a central monitoring service for the small islands, as they do not have staff and to decide which (larger) islands will serve their neighbors. The system, as it is today, cannot work. “
The “miracle” of Leipsi
The example of Leipsi (near Samos) is certainly the most impressive. Since 2010 this small island has launched a ‘European type’ systematic recycling program, which has had impressive results. “Our success is based on sorting at the source,” says re-elected Mayor Fotis Mangos. “The municipality gives citizens four-color bags, one for each packaging material: green for plastic, red for metals, blue for glass and yellow for paper. On a particular day, people take out their recyclables already in the street or in their bin in bags and we collect them.
At the municipal landfill site (Landfill) further screening is carried out in 13 streams, the recyclables are bundled and shipped to Athens, directly to the buyer of recyclables. This gives us € 22,000 / year, which covers one third of the cost of cleaning (collection service), which we have outsourced. In summer we collect the recyclables three times a week and the blends every day, in winter more sparingly. ” What’s the result; “Our landfill had a life of 30 years. It’s been 20 years and not a quarter has been filled. So we will not need such a big project for the next 20 years, “says Mr Mangos. “The world is used to it, there is no way to throw scrubbed junk into recycling because it is easy … to find out who did the wrong thing. And we’re looking for a way to become even better. “