EU financing has supported the design and construction of an integrated waste management system in Greece’s West Macedonia region. The funds also cover 27 years’ maintenance and operation of the system. The infrastructure can manage 120,000 tonnes of waste a year and should cut landfill use.
The EU-funded Kozani waste management unit makes a big contribution to environmental protection in Greece’s Western Macedonia region. “A basic aim of our facility – which is compatible with EU waste management policy – is the diversion of food waste from the total waste. Our unit diverts more than 80%,” explains Katerina Filiou, a chemist at the unit. “Another aim is to recover recyclable materials which would otherwise be buried. In this way the lifetime of the landfill site is extended.”
“As for the food waste, of course we don’t throw it away. It’s a product which we convert into a compost-like material which we’re legally allowed to distribute to the market for various activities such as covering landfill sites or soil remediation,” she adds.
The Western Macedonia waste management system’s first waste management unit was inaugurated on 5 July 2017 in Kozani, Greece. The result of a successful public-private partnership (PPP), the unit was completed within 2 years of the signature of the PPP contract in 2015.
Backed by EU funding of €26 million, the project started trial operations in February 2017. The system is now fully operational and can handle 120,000 tonnes of waste a year from the 12 municipalities of the Western Macedonia region. Also, 8 types of recyclable material can be recovered at its mechanical separation facilities.
Waste transfer stations are shortly to be turned into big ‘green points’, where materials will be collected for recycling and re-use. Creation of a network of smaller green points which are more easily accessible for city dwellers is also planned.
Greece’s first integrated waste management system is being set up in West Macedonia at a cost of €50 million. This includes €17 million from the contractor, €26 million in EU funding and loans, and €6 million in bank loans and private capital.
The system will cut the amount of waste in landfill and associated environmental impacts, as well as reusing material to make commercially viable products. It can handle 90,000-120,000 tonnes of waste a year.
West Macedonia Governor Theodoros Karypidis said, “The project is expected to boost the region’s growth prospects, creating at least 200 jobs during construction and about 150 permanent jobs during operation. Additional jobs might be created through parallel activities, such as marketing recyclable materials and distributing secondary products. But what is equally important to us is raising public awareness and preventing waste, which is a major challenge for future generations.”