ATHENS – Hammered by huge fines from the European Union for failing to close landfills fast enough, Greece’s government has filed legislation to speed the process.
The proposal foresees closing the remaining landfills over the next six months although the country is years behind a previously-promised schedule. This time, however, the government said it would act, if necessary, over any objections from local authorities where the facilities are located.
The measure was attached to a health bill and would allow the transfer of waste by sea in a bid to facilitate several islands that lack waste facilities.
The cost of transferring the waste is to be split between local authorities and firms that manage recycling, such as the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HERRCO) which oversees the country’s growing recycling efforts.
Local authorities will have to pay for biodegradable waste handling while firms including HERCCO, which have posted budget surpluses, will pay for moving recyclable trash.
Regional authorities must coordinate with the local authorities in drafting a plan to close illegal landfills and replace them with sanitary alternatives within the next two months.
That was under a scheme approved by Dimitris Kalogeropoulos, the General Secretary for coordinating waste management at the Interior Ministry. If local authorities balk, the ministry can transfer the project to another public or private body to take over.
The legislation comes just a few weeks after the European Court of Justice imposed a 10-million-euro fine on Greece for failing to close down dozens of illegal landfills and comply with European waste management directives. The court also ordered the country to pay an additional 14.5 million euros for every six months that the illegal dumps remain operative.