Recycling in Thessaloniki: Urgent question?


Thessaloniki is the second biggest city of Greece. It’s an important business, political and industrial center. Near the city, people enjoy hot weather,  beaches and Freddo espresso.  They can spend their free time in front of beautiful landscapes. But, sometimes people don’t pay attention to what is going on around them and once they are done with recreational activities, they have a high tendency to forget about recycling.

Despite Greek beauty, the question of recycling and street’s pollution subsists. First of all, we can see that this problem appears in different districts of Thessaloniki.

Piles of garbage in Thessaloniki
Garbage near the Train station in Thessaloniki

Even if the European Environment Agency and the EU set a goal of recycling to Greece, the challenge is hard to attain.  The supervisor of the FODSA (Association of Solid Waste) said that the economic crisis complicated people’s awareness. That is why recycling isn’t the most important thing for Greeks.

In order to fight against this curse, some people try to do something for the serenity of the planet. In 2010, for example, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki established the environment office. According to Yannis Tsougrakis, the head of the office specialized in the management of recycling initiatives, the city, more precisely the university can try to improve its mistakes.

On the 27th of July, I had the pleasure to met him at the environment office for half an hour. We talk about this main subject of the article, this is a few sentences about our interview:

First thing is that we have a new law and it means that we have to change several things, now we have to adapt. I’m saying this because, for instance, we are now planning on how to inform about the new law. You have to know that in Greece we get the packaging recycling with all materials like paper, plastic, glass and cans in one bin. Now the new laws are that we have to four different bins for each material, so this is changing the all things in the university so it’s going to change. So we are now in the planning situation, where we will put let’s say those green corners in every building where you have all the materials, how they going to be collected.”

Recycling bins in Thessaloniki
Recycling bins in the street

For the new law, the environment office decided to create an eco team with volunteering students. Thanks to it, the university escort this new law and make people on the campus aware of it. Finding solutions to keep the environment clean for the next generations isn’t easy. But if we change our habits, we could see a difference.

As we can see in the pictures below, Thessaloniki tries to include recycling bins in the street. This is a good initiative to reduce the pollution’s level and amount of waste on the streets. It can affect positively people’s understanding of recycling. But like Yannis Tsougrakis say it can take time :

This new law includes very good things in it. But I want to see how it will be enforced by the local afford. All system is designed in a different way and this change to the new law is going to be very difficult. Like several years. People aren’t really respectful about recycling, but it’s much better than it was 5 years ago. So people can improve that but it’s slow. If the municipality put an effort in public awareness and things like this it could be much better. They have to do something because now you see that Thessaloniki is full of cars so there is no space for bins.

Finally, the campaign” Recycling at the beach” is already present on beaches near to Thessaloniki. Thanks to this, people can learn how to recycle, and also understand the importance of recycling. People, who are responsible for the campaign also organize cleaning actions, so feel free to join them!

L’image contient peut-être : texte
Ανακυκλώνω στην Παραλία – Recycling at the Beach

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  1. Such an important topic! The way trash is being handled here in Greece is quite different from what I am used to. There is a lot of improvements to be made still. Good that you are focusing on this 🙂

  2. This has been bothering me for a long time and I also want to give back to this beautiful city and help with the waste issue. Where do I sign up?

  3. Until someone manages to link and join up the local initiatives that you refer to and the national ” what happens to the waste after collection” then I am afraid nothing will change. The population in Greece sees that whatever happens in terms of recycling household waste, when it gets to the likes of either the landfill or the incineration plants that it all gets mixed back up . There is also the need to convince people by demonstration that the fees paid by the local Mayors government are actually paying for what is required to be compliant with the EU requirements and not some cheap solution that does nothing to manage the waste in the appropriate way.
    People are both fed up hearing promises that are never delivered and seeing what is perceived to be deals being done that only satisfy a small percentage of the problem.


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