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Project background

Waste is an inevitable product of society. On average, each European citizen generated 460 kg Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in 1995. This amount rose to 520 kg per person in 2004, and a further increase to 680 kg per person is projected by 2020. In total, this corresponds to an increase of almost 50% in 25 years. Managing MSW more effectively is now a need that society has to address. Uncontrolled dumping and improper waste handling causes a variety of problems, including contaminating water, attracting insects and rodents, and increasing flooding due to blocked drainage canals or gullies. In addition, it may result in safety hazards from fires or explosions. Improper waste management also increases greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which contribute to climate change.

Over the last few decades, Europe has progressively established a consistent political and regulatory framework on waste management. The new Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) establishes the principles of waste hierarchy and sets material recovery targets in order to encourage member states to carry out waste treatment operations and waste management schemes. Subject to Article 10(2) of the new Waste Framework Directive, by 2015 separate collection shall be set up for at least the following: paper, metal, plastic and glass. Furthermore, the Waste Framework Directive encourages the separate collection of biodegradable organic waste (biowaste) with a view to the composting and digestion of biowaste in line with the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC). The Landfill Directive obliges Member States to reduce the amount of biowaste that they landfill to 35% of 1995 levels by 2016, which will significantly reduce the problem. The Commission’s priority is to ensure that Member States comply with this legal requirement fully and on time.

Over the last years the concept of Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) has been proposed as the most appropriate action to avoid the adverse effects on public health that are caused by the increasing amounts of solid waste being discarded without appropriate collection or disposal. ISWM is a comprehensive waste prevention, recycling, treatment, and disposal program. An effective ISWM system considers how to prevent, recycle, and manage solid waste in ways that most effectively protect human health and the environment. ISWM involves evaluating local needs and conditions, and then selecting and combining the most appropriate waste management activities for those conditions. The major ISWM activities are waste prevention, recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion, and combustion and disposal in properly designed, constructed, and managed landfills.

MSW management in Greece still remains a challenge. Greece encompasses more than 3500 islands, has particular geomorphology (rough vertical relief) and intense tourism development. These characteristics create a complex waste management problem, linked to the creation of numerous non-engineered landfill sites. Thus, priority has been given to the abatement of such uncontrolled landfills while little interest has been given to the establishment of sustainable solutions for ISWM systems. Until 2015, in the context of the new Waste Framework Directive, Greece shall set up separate collection for each type of recyclables while by 2020, the preparing for re-use and the recycling of waste materials such as at least paper, metal, plastic and glass from households and possibly from other origins as far as these waste streams are similar to waste from households, shall be increased to a minimum of overall 50 % by weight. Furthermore, according to Landfill Directive Greece must reduce the quantity of biodegradable waste going to final disposal by around 20% compared with 2000 levels by 2010 and in order of 50% by 2050 and is currently far from these targets.

Considering the arguments above, the project promotes the concept of ISWM and aims at the development, demonstration and implementation of an Integrated Solid Waste Management system to the Municipality of Tinos. The proposed system will include the separate collection of each type of recyclable materials (glass, metal, paper, plastic) as well as of biowaste and the subsequent treatment of the collected biowaste. Aerobic composting treatment will be examined through a prototype demonstration unit set to Tinos Island, while the anaerobic digestion of the biowaste will be investigated at the experimental hall of the University of Verona in Italy.

It is foreseen that the successful implementation of the project will put in place the essential requirements for the integrated waste management to the Municipality of Tinos that can be further adopted to manage MSW of Tinos Island as well as on other islands and remote areas, contributing to the achievement of targets set by the legislative framework.