Waste management remains the most problematic sector in Greece. Greece, due its long-standing problem of illegal landfills and the lack of satisfactory (industrial) hazardous waste disposal infrastructure, is paying significant fines to the EU. Also, there are several cases of legal landfills, which operate with serious problems or do not operate at all, due to local reactions. The state has to deal with chronic social pathogens and implement the existing legal framework. Local stakeholders must address the issue of household solid waste (HSW) management with due responsibility and contribute to the adoption of a new culture of HSW management by local communities so as to accept technical, environmentally and economically sound solutions and socially equitable sharing of the cost. It is well noted that, after decades of delays, the construction of the remaining necessary infrastructure facilities has now been streamlined and the funding of the rehabilitation of 50 illegal landfills which still operate or are closed but not rehabilitated, mainly in Peloponnese and in some islands, has been secured as well in order to complete the closure and rehabilitation of all illegal landfills by 2019. On the contrary, a comprehensive plan to address the problem of the hazardous waste management is still expected to be publicized. At the same time, the recycling of household waste remains constant at about 14%, one of the lowest rates in the EU, with multiple problems in the functioning of the recycling structures. The disposal of HSW into landfills is consistently the main choice at rates above 80%. Despite the GDP decrease of 25% in the last seven years, the amount of HSW produced has remained steady. Respectively, excavation, construction and demolition waste recovery rates, as well as separate collection and composting rates of biodegradable waste, remain very low. The adoption of the new National Waste Management Plan (NWMP) was a radical breakthrough, promoting recycling and composting by means of separate collection of multiple waste streams but its implementation remains a major challenge for all levels of government but also for citizens. The visionary character of the new NWMP does not seem to have accelerated the transition towards a more modern model of HSW management as there has been no increase in recycling to date. In any case, such radical reforms require time to mature and produce tangible results.

On the other hand, the extended producers responsibility schemes have shown some very good results in some cases (e.g. waste lubricants, ELVs, tires, WEEE etc.). The new Recycling Law 4496/2017 was a very important positive intervention which explicitly establishes the obligation to separately collect the four waste streams (paper, glass, metals, plastics) and introduces control mechanisms. However, its full implementation and the effective control of the recycling systems from the state remains a challenge for immediate future. The introduction of a plastic bag fee (under the same law) that has led to a significant reduction in consumption as well as the postponement of one more year of the implementation of the landfill tax are also noted.

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