Though the messages of environmentalism have succeeded in producing a plethora of private local recycling initiatives, Greece still has a way to go to meet EU waste-management goals. New legislation and projects, however, are set to narrow this \'trash gap\'.
The Ministry of the Environment has put forward draft legislation designed to salvage a part of the 750,000 tons of packaging materials (glass, plastic, metal and paper) that Greeks throw away every year. The goals laid down by EU\'s 1994 Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive should be achieved by 2006. The plan in question calls for the recovery of 50 to 65% and the recycling of 25 to 45% of the current output by 2005.
According to ministry estimates, this trash rehabilitation will result in savings of 6,456,341 euros (GDR2.2 billion) per year. Funds for the program, to the tune of 293,470,079 euros (GDR100 billion), will be provided by the Third EU Support Framework.
Once the legislation is approved, in upcoming months, the ministry plans to establish an independent body charged with overseeing the delegation of the recycling business to private contractors, a practice followed in a number of EU countries.
Moreover, the Development Ministry is putting forward measures intended to inspire Greek businesses to combine competitiveness with environmentally sound practices. The measures are incorporated in a legislative proposal entitled Sustainable Development, which will replace the current 17-year-old presidential decree on the environment.
To this end a budget of 311,078,283 euros (GDR106 billion) supporting greener measures will contribute toward such goals as helping companies adopt more environmentally-benign technologies, build recycling and effluent processing units and promote environmental protection in the vicinity of industrial parks.
In Athens, recycling and clean-up efforts have taken on extra urgency in light of the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games. The Athens 2004 organizing committee estimates that the Olympic Village alone will generate 54 tons of garbage per day. The Athens municipality and the Association of Attica Municipalities and Communities (ESDKNA), which handles garbage disposal, are launching a waste processing and recycling campaign intended to recoup at least a portion of the approximately 5,500 tons of garbage collected from the Athens area daily.
A new facility in the suburb of Ano Liosia will soon be gulping down 1,500 tons of garbage daily and converting it to organic compost used as fertilizer, as well as RDF, a combustible substance, which can be used as fuel. In addition, 300 more collection bins are scheduled for installation throughout the city as part of an E.U.-funded program to recycle glass and paper.
Meanwhile, at the now defunct Ano Liossia dump the biogas produced from the decomposing refuse of decades has recently begun being converted into electricity. A network of pipes lacing the dump transports the gas (chiefly methane) to a new 14W-power plant, where it is converted to enough energy to serve the needs of a town of 15,000 inhabitants. The plant\'s construction cost 19,369,025 euros (GDR6.6 billion) and was funded by the Municipality of Ano Liosia and the construction company TOMI SA.
The electricity produced feeds into the Public Power Company power grid, for a return of 0.06 euros (GDR20) per kWh. Methane, a major contributor to the greenhouse effect, is thus profitably exploited and, whats equally important, prevented from polluting the atmosphere.