The Greek market for recycling services and equipment is expected to far exceed local capacity through 2015.
This report presents a profile of plastics, batteries, electronic equipment, paper, tires and household waste recycling technologies and services in Greece, as well as the market prospects for U.S. businesses.
For more information concerning the business opportunities in this sector, or for any assistance in identifying qualified business partners, please contact the United States Commercial Service in Greece at the address provided at the end of the report.
Compared with other E.U. member states, Greece has a very poor track record on environmental concerns. Greece, following E.U. directives, is committed to introducing the necessary legislative framework to promote recycling. In this regard, Greece is implementing a long term plan to improve and renew recycling practices, in addition to introducing new technologies. According to EU directives, all member states should recycle 55-80% of packaging material by 2011 and should also decrease organic urban waste through composting processes at the source by 50% by 2013 and by 65% by 2020.
Greece produces more than 5 million tons of residential and commercial urban waste annually. This is equivalent to 480 kilograms per person. The region of Attica produces almost 39% of Greece’s urban waste, followed by Central Macedonia (16%) and the city of Thessaloniki (9%). According to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, the composition of urban waste in Greece is: Paper: 29%; Plastic: 14%; Organic: 40%; Metals: 3%; Glass: 3%; Idle: 3%; Rest: 8%.
The overall recycling rate in Greece is approximately 20 percent (as of 2010) and addresses mainly glass, paper, and aluminum. Over 50 percent of solid waste is deposited in sanitary untreated landfills, while the remainder is dumped in over 500 illegal landfills throughout Greece. A number of new sanitary landfills and treatment plants, as well as composting facilities and waste transit stations have been constructed, but demand requires construction of many more.
In order to address this problem, a number of municipalities have introduced recycling programs, but demand for more effective programs remains. Since there is insufficient domestic capacity to meet the needs of the market, investment opportunities are exceptional. The Greek government, local authorities and private companies need the expertise of foreign firms to fill this significant gap. In order to do so successfully, foreign firms usually align themselves with Greek engineering interests to form partnerships, consortia or Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), which evolve over time. These partnerships also make U.S. business interests eligible for E.U. funding.
While the recycling of plastic materials is ranked third on the list of most profitable industries worldwide, this has not proven to be the case in Greece. One third of all waste produced in Greece is plastic and only one percent is recycled. Approximately three billion plastic bottles are thrown away every year. The construction and operation of plastic waste treatment facilities, the development of well organized recycling networks in many Greek cities that lack such infrastructure, and the introduction of plastic material recycling programs in major cities offer tremendous business opportunities.
Battery recycling is the recovery and reuse of materials that constitute the batteries. The restoration of these collected materials leads to their reuse in the production of new batteries and other products. Battery recycling can ultimately lead to beneficial long term changes for the Greek environment through energy savings, decrease in raw material usage and reduction in the volume of waste. At the present time, there are no battery recycling facilities in Greece. Across Europe, however, there are 4-5 facilities that receive batteries from European Union member states. All types of batteries can be recycled, including those from electrical appliances, devices, laptops and mobile phones. The only constraint is that the battery’s weight should not exceed 1500 grams. The benefits of battery recycling are of vital importance since they impact:
• new job creation
• energy savings
• cultural enhancements
• savings of raw materials
• reductions in landfills’ volume of waste
• environmental and quality of life improvements
Electronic Equipment Recycling
The recycling of Waste of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is just beginning in Greece. The major factors that led to WEEE’s establishment are the implementation of E.U. legislation (EU2002/96/EC) and E.U. funding. The Greek government is very supportive of efforts to recycle electronic equipment and Appliances Recycling S.A., is the main accountable body for the management and efficient operation of WEEE. It is tasked with the collection and reuse of waste electronic equipment.
According to Greek legislation, tire importers and manufacturers are responsible for the disposal of all tires and their delivery to pre-assigned areas. All waste tires must be handed over to the certified organizations of alternative use. Unfortunately, 74% of used tires are thrown into ordinary dump areas and this causes a series of preventable problems. The recycling of tires can lead to the manufacture of material that can be used in the construction of highways and railways.
There is a standardized procedure that Greece follows for the recycling of paper. Waste is collected and separated from other materials. Simultaneously all major factories, corporations and firms collect their paper waste. The directed municipal authorities then collect it for processing into recycled paper, which is then distributed to the market.
Household waste recycling
Household waste recycling is on the rise in Greece but many changes need to be implemented before the transition is complete. The most obvious improvement has been the nationwide distribution of blue dumpster bins, which are used for the recycling of household garbage. The blue bins are now accessible to approximately 4.3 million of Greece’s 10 million citizens. Plans are under discussion to increase the number of those bins. Through the direct cooperation of 337 municipalities, more than 25,000 bins have been placed on the streets around the country.
The recycling market is growing. In 2010, Greek municipalities produced 183,298 tons of recyclable packages, an increase of 6 percent over 2009. During the same year, 415,904 tons of recyclable packages were collected from all Greek factories and industrial construction sites. In addition, more than 110,000 blue bins were placed throughout Greece, 360 waste-collecting trucks were put into use and six new recycling centers (that deal with packaging material, vehicles, tires, lubricants, batteries and electronic equipment) were established, for a total of 16. As a final point, there are 15 hazardous waste management facilities active in the country