Athens, is a venerable yet intricate city of near 700.000 residents, part of a 3.75 million people metropolis, that aspires to adapt and transform into a more creative, inclusive and sustainable city. For this purpose, the city uses a data driven policy for better decision-making in waste management and better engagement with residents. Moreover, the municipality is committed towards building a culture of responsibility and awareness towards waste management policies and methods for effective waste separation, educational programs, awareness and communication campaigns, as well as programs and incentives to increase compost and recycle levels.
In 2011 under the umbrella of an EU LIFE+ project, entitled Bio-waste, Athens implemented a pilot programme for the separate collection of bio-waste (food waste from households and restaurants). Today, in continuation to this effort a modern and efficient food waste composting process has been launched, in line with the National Waste Management Plan and the European Parliament Directive 2008/98/EC that promotes source separation, collection and recycling of priority waste streams. Up to now the programme has been implemented in the 20 largest food markets in Athens, while in the coming months, the process will be expanded to almost all food markets by collecting at least five (5) tons of food waste daily. The department of Cleaning and Recycling plans to start collecting food waste from the main producers, as soon as the brown bins network is expanded, and will target all the major hotels in Athens, supermarket chains, health care stores, the Athens Food Market and the big grocery stores. The estimated quantity per day will reach at least thirty (30) tons of food waste, and when the expansion to all food waste residues is completed, the estimated quantity will reach up to sixty (60) tons per day. Until 2020, the City of Athens will collect up to 50.000 tons/year of food waste reaching the EU targets for bio- waste.
The Municipal Authority has set as a key priority reducing mixed waste by 2020 and achieving a zero waste Athens by 2030. In this context, the department of Cleaning and Recycling promotes the recycling of packaging through a network of blue bins and actions supporting the segregation at source, such as the separate collection of textiles, construction and demolition waste and bulky house waste. The recycling programme applied by Municipality of Athens recycling includes:
- Cooperation with approved waste management schemes (packaging material, glass, electric and electronic material, recycling old cars, motor vehicle tires, battery recycling, lamp recycling, lubricating oils)
- Organization by the municipality, waste management schemes for materials still not covered by the approved waste management schemes (Paper recycling, scrap, plastic, ink cartridges, wood pallet recycling, cooking oils, biowaste)
- Recycling corners in the Department of Cleaning – Recycling and Mechanical Equipment Maintenance
The municipality of Athens, in cooperation with the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation has placed blue bins for the co-mingled collection of packaging recyclables (paper, plastic, metal and glass packaging throughout the city.
Paper and cardboard: Apart from the co-mingled collection of paper packaging, Municipality of Athens itself has placed yellow bell type bins throughout the city for the separate collection of paper and cardboard packaging. In addition, bins for separate collection of printed paper are placed in municipal premises and schools.
Glass: Apart from the co-mingled collection of glass packaging, Municipality of Athens itself has placed, close to areas with restaurants and cafes, bell type bins for the separate collection of glass bottles and containers. In addition, Municipality with the collaboration of He.R.R.Co has also placed bins for the separate collection of glass.
Plastic: Apart from the co-mingled collection of plastic packaging, plastic is separated collected after telephone request by households and/or businesses. In addition, the municipality also provides damaged waste plastic bins to recyclables’ management company in order to be recycled.
Metal: Apart from the co-mingled collection of metal packaging, the municipality has assigned to a recyclables management company the recycling of damaged waste metal bins, containers and other metal objects.
Finally, for the enhancement of waste management, the infrastructure and equipment of the department of cleaning and recycling is constantly updated. More than 40 vehicles are operating in the 7 District Councils of our city, ensuring the proper operation in alignment to the goals of the Municipal Authority. The Waste Transfer Station minimizes operating costs with a capacity to receive up to 140 tons of waste daily, thus enabling the thrice daily collection of waste. 17 underground waste containers have already been installed in Athens replacing 500 conventional bins from the streets and allowing more available communal spaces.