Greece launches pilot recycling program aiming to meet EU targets

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ATHENS, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Lagging in recycling goals set by the EU and faced with multi million euro fines in the future, Greece steps up efforts to reduce waste, taking a first step next week with the launch of a pilot recycling program in five municipalities, Greek officials said here on Tuesday.

Urging Greek citizens to follow in the footsteps of their children who appear more conscious of environmental protection, Interior Minister Takis Theodorikakos presented the program entitled "New Generation of Recycling" during a press conference.

"Unfortunately Greece today is lagging in recycling across Europe, ranking 24th among EU member states. The recycling rate in our country is only 18 percent, while the EU average is 45 percent and when the EU has set a target for all countries to reach the 50 percent until 2020," the minister said.

Greece has already paid heavy fines in recent years for the mismanagement of waste and faces more in the future if drastic actions are not implemented immediately, he added.

"Something must change dramatically in our country in this field so that we can achieve what is best for our country, our children and the environment we are living in," he stressed.

While other EU member countries have entered the era of circular economy treating waste as a source of wealth, in Greece the 80 percent of garbage still ends up in overflowing landfills, Theodorikakos noted.

Under the pilot program, the 220,000 residents in the municipalities of Kallithea and Nea Smyrni in the Greek capital as well as in the municipalities of Ioannina in western Greece, Nafplio in the south and Andros on the Aegean Sea island of Andros will be given a series of incentives, including financial, to participate in order to drastically reduce their environmental footprint and avoid thousands of tons of waste every year.

Starting from Dec. 5 they will be earning 3 euro cents (3.3 U.S. cents) for each plastic, glass or metal packaging they will be depositing at dozens of special recycling kiosks scattered across the municipalities.

By implementing new technologies in waste management authorities will seek to make the most of the collected material for recycling.

Should the pilot program end successfully, after a few months it will be expanded nationwide.

"2020 will be the year of recycling. Each citizen should contribute in the issue of recycling at the source. A new era begins for the management of waste in our country," said Regional Governor of Attica Giorgos Patoulis.

"Starting with recycling we can cultivate a culture of participation and sharing responsibilities among the citizens, a culture of respect of public space that I believe we need in urban centers," said on his part Mayor of Kallithea Dimitris Karnavos.

"We are starting with children and schools and these are the best ambassadors to persuade everyone to join in," added Vangelis Pihas, deputy mayor of Ioannina. (1 euro= 1.10 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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