A putrid mix of stale waste and methane engulfing the air – that is the stench that hits you as you approach the Fyli landfill just outside Athens.
Six thousand tonnes of rubbish arrive here every day from the capital and neighbouring regions. As trucks unload what they have collected that day, thousands of seagulls swirl above, ready to dart down on to the stinking pile. But there are other scavengers too – local Roma, who wade through the mountain of waste to pick out what they need.
Most is covered by gravel and then buried into a growing mound. But it is a ticking time bomb – Greece’s largest landfill site is almost 90% full and has a year left until it is totally saturated. The country’s economy may be rotten but other problems are piling up too – and waste management is among the most serious.
Greece buries 80% of its rubbish – over twice the EU average. At Fyli, there is a recycling plant but it only deals with a sixth of the waste that arrives here. Metal is removed for reuse, food is made into compost and some other items are converted into alternative fuel, mainly for the cement industry. But recycling is still in its infancy here.
“Greece has been slow in dealing with waste,” says Olga Skiadi, the director of waste treatment at Fyli.
“We must move forward quickly to build new plants to recycle and generate energy recovery. People must change their philosophy about the issue – waste can’t just be dumped anywhere. It must be dealt with in an environmentally friendly way.”
The problem of random dumping is indeed severe. In 2005, the European Commission took Greece to court to force the closure of 1,100 illegal landfills.
Eight years on, 70 still remain. Brussels has now launched a second case against Athens, threatening a daily fine of 71,000 euros (£60,000; US$98,000) until they are eradicated.
And so, as Greece takes over the rotating presidency of the EU on 1 January, it is in dispute with the very body it is supposed to run. More of this story>LINK
You might be interested
Incoming search terms:
- dead animals because of wind turbines