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Greece Aiming to Make Recycling Routine with 5 Reforms

Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis (right)

Greece aims to make recycling a routine practice, said Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis after tabling a bill for public consultation that redefines recycling practices.

Hatzidakis said the reform is an effort to cover lost ground particularly with regard to waste management and to integrate recycling into the daily routines of all Greeks.

The proposed law focuses on five key areas:

1. packaging waste will now be collected separately (plastic, paper, metal, glass),

2. municipalities will have the option to charge lower municipal fees for those who produce less waste and / or recycle more – very similar to the “pay as you throw” (PAYT) scheme applied elsewhere in Europe,

3. municipalities which transfer waste to landfills will be charged higher landfill fees,

4. all new buildings will be required to have waste collection areas with four separate streams,

5. as of July 2022, EU waste management fines will be passed on to municipalities and companies that fail to reduce input relieving taxpayers of the burden.

Among other key points of the bill, all fees and levies collected will go into the country’s Green Fund and from there 50 percent will go to municipalities for prevention, separate collection and recycling; 40 percent as a reward for the high performance in separate collection/recycling; and 10 percent into funding for research and technology in the field of recycling and waste management.

Starting September 2021, all schools should have bins for separate waste collection for paper, packaging and food waste.

As of January 2022, the following facilities and businesses will be required to arrange separate collection of packaging waste in four streams (plastic, paper, metal, glass): cinemas, theaters, playgrounds, day-care centers, concert halls, sports facilities, shopping and conference centers, hotels, training facilities, hospitals / clinics, ports, main railway stations, ferries and ships, banks and F&B businesses, municipal facilities.

As of January 2023, a deposit refund schemes (DRS) will be put into place. A deposit fee will charged at point of purchase and refunded to the purchaser when aluminium bottles are returned.

Besides making recycling a “part of daily life”, Hatzidakis said the bill would also contribute to the “image of the country internationally”.

The Greek environment ministry is expected to present in the upcoming period a National Waste Prevention Plan as well as the road map for the circular economy.

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