Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Spring 2019 Update

Waste Management in Corfu

The short version of this update is that there is some good news and some less good news. The good news is that there is real momentum building around recycling especially in North and Central Corfu. At the time of writing there are 20 ‘green spots’ where people can take their recycling and the number grows almost daily. The less good news is that the fundamental problem, which is where can Corfu’s general waste be disposed of, is no nearer a solution.

The political situation is set to change dramatically, as it has finally been decided that the election in May will be to elect 3 Mayors for South, Central and North Corfu. This was strongly opposed by all the business bodies (eg the Chamber of Commerce and the Hotel Association), but pushed through by Syriza—allegedly to give them a chance to win at least one of the 3 seats. There seems to be no clear plan as to how they would cooperate on an island-wide waste management plan. The new Mayors will take office in September, which leaves an awkward interim period over the next 6 months.

Recycling can help a lot. Recyclables can represent 30% of waste by weight, but up to 60% of waste by volume. Sorting at source and separate collection via the green spots will significantly reduce the pressure on the Municipality’s collection and disposal efforts. Led by Babbis Voulgaris the hotels are being encouraged to generate zero waste (recycling and composting everything), which again reduces the pressure on the municipality. The green spots are currently all set up and manned by unpaid volunteers. They have various challenges to deal with;-
  • ·       Getting buy-in and wholehearted cooperation from local businesses especially small hotels, coffee shops, mini markets, wineries, supermarkets and tavernas. They are all heading in the direction of awarding businesses a ‘gold star of approval’ to be prominently displayed at the shop or taverna. I am proposing that we add our logo to these stars of approval.
  • ·       Collecting recyclables from villas and especially tavernas when they are too busy to take it to green spots themselves. We may well decide to help financially here by subsidising the cost of a man with a van. Some green spots are hoping to persuade local businesses to also contribute to cost of collection. Villa owners also need to establish a system to get their recyclables to the green spots.
  • ·       The collection of the recyclables from the green spots for eventual transport off the island. In theory this should be a profitable activity and there is a market for eg pressed plastic bottles. There are various people currently involved in doing this. As per my email in late January Spiros Nerantzis and Dimitris Kotsis are the two most active at the moment but there are others setting up –notably Victor Dimoulis. Spiros is very much a leader and is behind ‘All Together Corfu’, which is doing lots of good things. He was going to run for Mayor and I assume he will run for Mayor of Central Corfu. (There is also a group of green spots called ‘Lets do this Corfu’ run by Ian smith and Lesley Cummings , who also do great things such as organise beach clean-ups.) Lastly there are the Lavranos brothers who operate both the public and a private recycling centre at Temploni, where everything seems to end up, whether collected by them or on of the other collectors. I know there is some scepticism whether there will be enough capacity in these collection and disposal efforts come the summer, but I am hopeful that there will be.

I have been in close touch with Ben Goldsmith and Jade Brudenell of the Ionian Preservation Fund (to be launched shortly). They have appointed Costas Kaloudis to be a full-time head of the project. He and I plan to host a meeting of all the green spots, the collectors and other interested parties in mid-April to discuss how we can help.
At the end of this note I will mention a few of the many ways in which individual villa owners can help reduce general waste.

The overall situation is still a mess and not easy to summarise. The Ionian Prefecture gave various permissions re using Lefkimi as a temporary dumping ground for rubbish baled up at Temploni. There were immediate protests and some violence and arson. Arrests were made and suspended sentences handed out. It is not clear whether the Municipality will actually be able to make use of the permissions they have received from the prefecture. There is 30,000 tons of rubbish sitting at Temploni that needs a permanent home.

 Currently rubbish is being collected and taken to Temploni. However, there is the usual problem for this time of year of masses of builders’ waste and old mattresses littering the roadside, but it is much much worse than usual. This is because the machine to deal with it at Temploni is broken. We are assured that a solution is imminent.

There does seem to be a medium-term plan to enlarge the Temploni site (by 4.7 strema and later by 50 strema) and to install there modern sorting and compacting machinery. I am not clear that this has been approved and I think it will have to wait for the new Mayors.

The idea of taking waste to the new site on the mainland at Ioannina seems to have been killed, as has any hope of using waste to energy (aka incineration).
The EU has expressed its disgust at the situation and there may well be more fines imposed soon, but there seems to be no hope of any help from the Greek National government –at least until after national elections this Autumn.

I have set out below a report from Enimerosi on 29th march. It is not totally clear, but may help you understand the situation.

From Enimerosi
Last night's meeting of the Town Council was devoted almost exclusively to the issue of waste management and Corfu Mayor Kostas Nikolouzos explained the road map that had been announced on 13 March.
All interested parties were present at the meeting: both Temploni Societies and Lefkimmi Cultural Society as well as candidates in the upcoming local and regional elections.
After requesting that the discussion be carried out in a peaceful and civilised manner, the Mayor updated the Council and others present on the waste management plan and the latest developments. He stressed that if everything goes according to plan we will be able to manage the waste this summer without any problems. If there are problems, there is no other management plan. The study for the construction of a Waste Management Unit in Temploni is complete - it was submitted on 31 December 2018 and is awaiting final approval. Meanwhile the procedure for commissioning a study for the residue landfill is in progress. Both of these projects will be included in the ESPA (National Strategic Reference Framework) programme with funding of approximately 50m Euros.
The implementation of the four projects - sorting at source, biowaste and recycling and the setting up of green spots - has also been speeded up. These are included in the ESPA programme with a budget of 2.9m Euros.
As regards the waste management transitional phase, the work has been contracted out and will be operational again from 1 April reinforced by a double baling belt. This will be followed by the repair and operation of the South Corfu residual landfill in Lefkimmi.
Once the 5-stremma plot of land owned by the Brotherhood charity has been granted permission in the immediate future, the transportation of residue bales from Temploni will commence.
Furthermore, once the purchase of the adjacent 52 stremma plot of land in Temploni has been completed and the necessary permission granted, the necessary construction work will begin in April for the temporary storage of residue bales along with restoration of the Temploni landfill - with a budget of 3.7m Euros.
Regarding Lefkimmi residual landfill, the Mayor said, "The matter of the operation of Lefkimmi residue landfill isn't my responsibility. I have made many efforts at great personal cost. If the government is determined that Lefkimmi should operate, let them find a way to do it."
In response to a question from the 'Kerkyraion Dimos' councillor Nikos Hirdaris regarding the letter from TUI, Kostas Nikolouzos said that he intends to give the same reply that he gave to the Ministry of Tourism, "If all goes well, we won't have a problem in the summer. If something doesn't go as planned, then I don't have an answer."
In response to a question from councillor Yiannis Kritikos regarding the financial correction of 4.7m Euros, Kostas Nikolouzos said that according to the latest update, if Lefkimmi landfill wasn't operational on 1 March 2019 the EU would charge the amount. The government informed the EU of the recent damage to the facility but nothing has been heard back. Regarding the fine for Temploni landfill, Mr. Nikolouzos said that another fine was expected - even bigger than that of 2012!
At the meeting time was given for the representatives from Lefkimmi and Temploni to speak. For the first time, Lefkimmi Secretary Yiannis Pandis offered an alternative proposal for an incinerating system and said that they had made exploratory approaches to foreign companies asking for offers
Temploni President Magda Papanikolopoulou said there had been long-term mismanagement and opposed the plan to bury thousands of tons of waste as part of the renovation and integration of the cells. At the end she broke down saying, "We can't take any more rubbish in Temploni" and was unable to control her tears.
The only response she got from the Mayor was that everything would be done according to the amendments to the environmental regulations, adding that we needed to look at the reality - waste management needs land and space.

There is a lot villa owners can do and/or ask their guests to do.
  • ·       Install a water purifier so you never need to buy bottled water again,
  • ·       Use and reuse glass bottles to take water to the beach
  • ·       If you don’t get a purifier install a water dispenser that works off reusable 5-10 litre bottles. You can get them delivered and they will take away the empties.
  • ·       Install a soda-stream or similar to make fizzy water
  • ·       Install a composting box in your garden
  • ·       Ensure all your recyclables are taken regularly to a green spot
  • ·       Volunteer to help out at a green spot
  • ·       Persuade/encourage your favourite tavernas to support recycling

I attach below an email from Maxine, who organises the Sinies green spot, which gives you a very good idea of what she has achieved and what she hopes to achieve this summer. We should all support her and all the other green spots with all our might.

From Maxine

15 Mar 2019, 19:31 (10 days ago)
Dear All,
I very much hope this email finds you well and looking forward to the new season in Corfu!
During the past autumn and winter in Sinies we have been working hard to establish the recycling of used materials as a way of life amongst permanent residents, as well as considering how we can roll it out more widely to visitors and seasonal businesses in the summer months.
Many of you will already be aware that we operate a Recycling Centre, which is situated north of the Elaiourgia/Sinies crossroads, about 200m after “Stou Billy” cafe and the wood shop, on the right hand side as you go towards Kassiopi. The Centre was opened last summer, at the start of July – the second of its kind to open in Corfu (there are now 16 up and running). This was an initiative of the Sinies Cultural Association together with the Local Council and is manned by a team of volunteers. The key aim is to reduce the quantity of material being sent to landfill in Corfu, thus minimising the likelihood – and extent – of another waste crisis this year.
Not only is recycling the solution to Corfu’s waste issue, it also makes environmental sense and is a requirement by Greek and EU law. To this end, the Cultural Association has devised a proposal to support recycling for the 2019 season and has been presenting the idea to all areas of local industry: first to local tavernas and bars, then to all supermarkets, shops and offices and, in a third meeting to take place tomorrow, to tour operators, cleaning companies and villa owners.
Tomorrow’s meeting (Saturday 16th March 2019) will take place at 5:00 pm in Elaiourgia-Sinies, in the Cultural Association’s hall. Everyone is welcome to attend; however, since many home owners are not on the island at present, your thoughts, comments and responses are welcomed by email.
The Association invites you to plan how materials generated at your property will be recycled this season. The following options are available:
1.       Recyclables are sorted at source into the relevant categories (the four main streams are metal, paper, plastic and glass) and owners deliver them to the Sinies Recycling Centre (SRC).
2.       Delivery of sorted materials to the SRC is carried out by villa staff, as instructed by the owner.
3.       Delivery of sorted materials to the SRC is carried out by a cleaning company, as instructed by the owner and/or tour operator (where a home is rented out for all or part of the season).
4.       Owners pay a monthly fee to the Sinies Cultural Association for weekly collection of recyclables and delivery to the SRC.
In the latter case, the Association needs to first determine how many villas and businesses would like to participate in the Programme, before it can calculate a cost for this service. The more individuals and businesses that take part, the lower the cost will be. Our aim is to employ a driver with a truck whose salary will be paid with the contributions made by participating bodies. Involvement in the Programme is not compulsory; everyone can make their own plans as to how recyclables from their homes will be brought to the Sinies Recycling Centre. What we would like as far as possible, however, is for everyone to declare to the Association how they plan to manage their recyclables. Regretfully, we envisage that there will be the capacity to service only businesses and villas in the Sinies Community – although this may change as we roll out the plan over the next few weeks.
Key tour operators active in the Sinies area have pledged their support to the recycling movement and – if you have a contract with one of them – we encourage you to open a dialogue with them as to how you plan to provide for and manage the recyclable materials generated throughout the summer at your property.
The attached document illustrates how it is envisaged the Recycling Programme will operate. Your questions and suggestions are warmly encouraged and will all be considered by the Association’s Recycling Committee. Please forward this email to anyone you know who owns property in the Sinies Community but who may not be in direct communication with the Cultural Association.
We look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you for all your support.
Best wishes,
Maxine Katsaros (on behalf of Sinies Cultural Association)
Agios Stefanos (North East), Sinies (nr. Kassiopi), Corfu 49081
T: +30 2663 081964
M: +30 694 9342915