Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Surprising waste

(The 'open air museum' near Old Andissa)

Nature on Lesvos is still very green, although summer is seriously colouring the landscape yellow. In quite another way, the island is slowly greening: the landscape is being cleared of illegal dumps and the recycling of waste is starting.

This spring the environmental group Lesvos go Green distributed flyers telling us what to do with the waste that can be recycled (batteries, electrics and electronic appliances, cooking and frying oil, light bulbs, old cars and so on). You may have to search a little to find the different containers, but they are here and in this way Lesvos is becoming a greener island.

Recycling Aegean came in 2001 to Mytilini and is now a huge recycling-plant. Here old iron, metal, tires, cars and packaging materials find a new life. Some 1300 tons of metal, 10 tons of wire, 40 tons of batteries, 40 tons of paper (mainly books) and 30 tons of aluminium packaging are gathered annually.

There is also a second recycling firm in Mytilini. But having different possibilities of recycling does not mean that the illegal dumping places on the island will disappear. The question is how all this waste material will reach the plants. There are some traders like the gypsies who gather old iron. But the average inhabitant of Lesvos doesn’t take his recycling items to Mytilini every week (although I have heard people say that they take their empty bottles to Mytllini because there are containers where you can dump them). I do hope that with better information – like the flyer from Lesvos go Green – more recycling will be done.

Apart from the waste to be recycled the normal rubbish also forms a problem. Written in 2009, the essay Moving Up the EU Waste Hierarchy in Remote Area, Exploring the Case of Lesvos Island, Greece written by Faikham Harnnarong predicted what is now going on. The central refuse plant of the island has been opened somewhere in the mountains between Mytilini and Mandamados. The problem now is how the local rubbish vans can get there, because those from Molyvos (and those of other faraway districts like Plomari, Polychnitos and Sigri) cannot drive each day up and down on a three hour journey. The crisis is not making things easier because, of course, there is no money to buy bigger trucks, for more petrol (the prices of petrol is rising by the week) or to pay more workers. So in the faraway regions (like here in the north) we have a huge problem. The local dumps are closed and now where can we go with the rubbish?

In Molyvos they found a solution, but already lots of people are protesting. In the municipal car park, a little outside of the village, but where people also live, they installed huge containers that each day are filled with rubbish. The containers were meant to be taken to the central refuse plant every second day, but because of the crisis this is not happening, so now the rubbish is piling up, causing a terrible stink and can be a danger to public health.

The village of Petra is also having problems with waste. As many public servants have not been paid for months sometimes they just do not collect the rubbish. Last weekend I saw the army coming down to the village in order to clean the streets and beaches.

So the refuse problem is not an easy one to handle, even though there are recycling plants and a central waste plant on the island. Let just say this: there is the willingness to treat refuse according to European standards and they created the places to do it; we now only have to hope that the crisis will soon end in order to solve all these logistic problems.

When you drive from the beach at Kambos along the coast to Old Andissa, you are driving along a river where you will see tons of old iron. The company Recycling Aegean would be happy to receive all this recycling material: there are tens of old trucks and shovels that –cleaned and polished – would belong to a museum.

Lots of museums in Greece are closed now because the state can no longer pay the staff. However, this ‘open-air museum’ would involve no cost as it would not need any personnel (assuming the trucks are not cleaned and polished). As the trucks are on the public road, there is no way other than to drive through this ‘museum’ if you want to continue your travel. But my guess is that lots of car lovers will jump out of their cars in order to take photographs.

Let’s hope that the collectors of old cars do not decide to remove this organised scrap-iron park, because this ‘drive-in-open-air museum’ is just another nice surprise that shows how some Lesviot people are creative with rubbish.

(With thanks to Mary Staples)

@ Smitaki 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment