“Tilos has managed to be the island with the highest recycling rate in the world and this is something that fills us all with hope.”
This was stated by the Minister of Environment and Energy, Costas Skrekas, representing the Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, together with the Minister of State ‘Akis Skercos’ and the Secretary General Manolis Grafakos, at a presentation of the pioneering program “Just Go Zreeno,” island.
According to the pilot program, Tilos is going to be transformed into the first “green” island in the world, with zero household waste, while it has already managed to recycle 86%.
From December 2021, when the program started, bags and bins were distributed to all residents, who began to separate their waste into recyclable, biowaste and non-recyclable.
The waste is collected three to four times a week from each house, with company trucks and ends up in “3K”, the modern polygreen waste management unit, where it is sorted into twenty-five streams, recycled or reused, while a very small percentage ends up being processed for energy recovery.
The participation of the local community plays an important role, which for the most part embraced the pioneering project, which is soon expected to reach recycling rates of over 90%.
“Once again, the beautiful island of Tilos is a pioneer and shows us the way to sustainable development. It can also be a shining example in the integrated waste management for all the small islands of our country, which face difficulties due to the distance with the mainland and the burden they receive from the tourist flows in the summer. “With this program, we are taking another step to transform the Greek islands into cradles of sustainable development and innovation, but also to tackle climate change,” the minister said.
Mr. Skrekas emphasized the education of the citizens and the participation of the local community, while he pointed out the value of the initiative in terms of sustainable tourism development, as Tilos is already a pioneer in matters of sustainability, since almost 100% of its energy needs are covered by ΑΠΕ.
For his part, the Minister of State, Akis Skertsos, conveyed the full support of the Prime Minister, while addressing the people of the island said: “What you have achieved is unique for all of Greece, for all of Europe and the world, and has emerged at the local level with the cooperation of the local community, local government and the private sector “.
“We must all embark on a new growth model that serves the goals of the circular economy. We are not owners in the environment. We are passers-by “, Mr. Skertsos stated characteristically and added:” What counts is to create an independent Greece that paves the way for the next generations “.
For his part, the governor of the South Aegean, George Chatzimarkos, pointed out: “In Tilos we celebrate our ability to set goals and achieve them.
Tilos is the best example with the best recycling rate in Europe. The cooperation of all those involved was excellent, but the success, the most critical factor, was the citizens. “The most capable player of a very good plan was and remains for the future the citizens of the island, who acted with responsibility and seriousness”, he stated and added that: “The long fiscal crisis, the climate change, proved how important it is to have environmental savings resources “.
“Tilos has managed to emerge from obscurity, and with double-digit growth rates has managed to be a distinct tourist destination. It is a pioneer in RES, environment and immigration “, said Maria Aliferi, the mayor of Tilos. As he added, “we have proved that the avant-garde does not start from the center, but from our small islands, which can be an example”. In fact, he referred to the memory of the late mayor, Tassos Aleiferi, who, as he said, “convinced the local community that we can stand on our own two feet. “With the Just Go Zero program, Tilos proves that nothing is impossible”, he stated characteristically.
As noted by the CEO and founder of Polygreen, Thanassis Polychronopoulos, “it all started with a vision: We are at the beginning of a new culture. Culture without waste. And from the remote island of Tilos, our goal is to give the mark of this new world culture. The culture of the islands of the South Aegean “. After thanking the Prime Minister and the representatives of the government, Mr. Polychronopoulos stated that “the project could not be implemented without the contribution of the mayor and the Governor, while the great protagonists and heroes are the residents of Tilos”, dedicating the whole project in memory of Tassos Aliferis.
In a videotaped message, the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginia Sinkevitsios, praised the Greek island’s efforts, described the program as a major step in the right direction, noted the EU’s support for circular economy issues and expressed its imitate the example of the acritic island.
“We have exceeded the European recycling targets in Tilos”, said for his part the general secretary of Waste Management Coordination of RIS Manolis Grafakos. He stressed that the action is of great importance for strengthening the country to get out of the last places in recycling and the circular economy, while he characterized Tilos as an island with emblematic “green” interventions.
Mr. Grafakos pointed out that significant efforts are being made to reduce the fines in the whole country, while he announced that by the beginning of 2023, the auctions of the Waste Treatment Units for the whole country will be completed.
The benefits of the program are significant and can be summarized as follows:
* Garbage dumps are closed. The program contributes to the achievement of the national target for 2030, which provides for the reduction of landfill to 10%.
* With the separate collection of biowaste and composting, the lands that are threatened with desertification are enriched.
* A very high rate of recovery and recycling is ensured.
* The inhabitants, students and businesses of the island are acquainted with the principles of the circular economy.
* A new, greener and more sustainable model of tourism development is promoted.