Solid Waste & Recycling


All Roads Lead to Rhodes

To the south of the city of Rhodes lies the Bay of Faliraki in the district of Kalithea, a busy tourist resort for holidaymakers worldwide and where the sun shines for ten months of the year. This resort district creates 50 tonnes of waste each day.

To the south of the city of Rhodes lies the Bay of Faliraki in the district of Kalithea. This is a busy tourist resort for holidaymakers worldwide and where the sun shines for ten months of the year. Built along the bay are endless numbers of hotels, as well as the busy town of Faliraki with its bustling nightlife.

The hotels are supplied with 660- and 1100-litre containers. Due to the warm temperatures, each hotel has a cold room where staff can store several 660-litre containers. The cold room is fitted with a sealed door and the waste is chilled by a thermostat to eradicate the possibility of decay in the warm temperatures. This measure prevents a health threat to tourists and hotel employees.

To address the local recession, the municipality double shifts two of its waste collection vehicles. The first shift starts at 5:00 am and finishes at 10:00 am, servicing central Faliraki and its villages, while the second shift starts at 11:00 am finishing at 4:00 pm. The second shift services all of the hotels located along Faliraki Bay. The waste collection crews consist of a driver and two loaders. The loaders place the containers to the rear of the refuse collection vehicle for emptying, and also load any excess waste into the refuse collection vehicle that has built up from tourism, from both the hotels and the communal collection points. The wearing of high visibility clothing by operatives is not enforced in Greece, so protective clothing, apart from gloves is rare.

The refuse collection vehicles collect two loads of waste from the hotels every day. Once the vehicle is full, the vehicle and crew travel to the sanitary landfill site in the centre of the Island. Upon arrival, the waste collection vehicles enter the weighbridge and the vehicles’ gross weight and payload are accurately recorded. Once weighed, the refuse collection vehicle proceeds up the steep incline to the tip face of the landfill where the driver discharges its load. Plant machinery then covers the waste with soil to prevent it blowing off site. The vehicle returns to the weighbridge area and the driver collects his waste transfer note from the weighbridge operator.

The landfill site has been operational since 2005, and is expected to have only a few months’ capacity left. At the present time, neither a new landfill site has been provided nor has an alternative waste treatment infrastructure been built. The existing landfill is built to a sanitary specification and boasts leachate treatment facilities, as well as methane being flared off site.

Near to the entrance of the site, and located near the weighbridge, is an area where waste electronic and electrical equipment is stored. This waste is collected by authorized transporters and delivered to authorized treatment facilities on the mainland, or shipped by authorized exporters for processing in the item’s country of origin. Wood waste is also stored here for reprocessing, while contaminated wood waste is shredded on site to pre-treat it before it is sent to the landfill.

Recycling infrastructure is also increasing on the Island. This idea has been initiated by private sector waste management companies in Greece. Perme (Environmental Transport Ltd), a mainland contractor that has been in existence since 1999, has rolled out glass recycling and cardboard waste collection services to hotels, bars, tavernas, and shops. This is to help Greece meet its statutory EU recycling and landfill diversion targets. Each hotel is supplied with a bottle bank that is emptied twice a week by one of Perme’s collection vehicles. This vehicle consists of a tipper with crane to lift the bottle banks and discharge their contents into the collection vehicle. Once the collection vehicle has finished its round it delivers its load to Perme’s waste transfer station in Kalithea. The glass is collected by private hauliers and shipped to the mainland for reprocessing. A rear-loading refuse collection vehicle also collects the paper and cardboard waste and delivers it to the waste transfer station where it is baled, awaiting transport for reprocessing.

Since the economic crisis hit Greece, power has devolved to the largest city or town on each island. Obviously, on the island of Rhodes this is the town of Rhodes. Although each municipality has its own waste collection vehicles, each municipality now has to seek guidance from Rhodes before it can make any local decisions.

Rhodes has decided that privatization is the way forward for waste collection services.

So far, there are two private waste collection contractors collecting municipal solid waste on behalf of municipalities, for example, Helesi S.A. (Hellenic Environmental Systems Industry) in Ialysos and Afantou and Perme (Environmental Transport Ltd) in Archangelos and Lindos. It is also believed that the waste collection service in Kalithea and Faliraki maybe outsourced for the season to Helesi S.A., but as yet the contract has not started. Helesi S.A. has a proven track record in collecting municipal waste on behalf of Greek municipalities. This company was also involved in a joint venture in 2004 with Spanish waste collection contractor Urbaser in collecting all of the waste generated by the Olympic games in Athens.

Nevertheless with the existing economic situation that Greece faces, are private sector contractors going to take the risk of operating waste collection contracts, with the possibility of not being paid for their services?

Despite this, the municipality of Kalithea operates a very professional public sector waste collection service for Faliraki. Perhaps if all the Greek public sector was run so effectively, there would be no need to outsource all of the country’s local authority operated waste collection services to the private sector.

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