Greece Waste Management Opportunities
In recent years, Europe has enacted ambitious laws and policies to protect air and water, promote circular economy, prevent waste generation, and raise recycling rates. As Greece moves towards this transition, it has adopted waste management legislation which could create increased opportunities for U.S. firms. Although the regulatory framework for waste management in Greece comprises several pieces of legislation that are based on EU Law, Greece has faced difficulties in implementation due to weak administrative capacity which has compromised its transition to a more sustainable environment. To tackle these issues, Greece has recently amended its 2020-2030 National Waste Treatment Plan and has transferred the waste management responsibility to the Regulatory Authority for Energy, which is now responsible for water and waste. Additionally, several waste treatment projects are either currently on-going or planned that could create increased opportunities for U.S. firms.
Greece’s Recovery and Resilience plan, which is approved by EU, in the Green Transition part of it, includes allocating more than €600 million in reforestation, biodiversity, flood mitigation and irrigation network upgrades that aim to support environmental protection and are complemented by a waste management reform to promote sustainable landfilling and recycling and improve governance.
Legislative Framework of Waste Management in Greece
Throughout the past decade, a significant number of Directives and Decisions regulating specific waste management issues have been adopted at a national level. We have included the most recent decisions below:
• Amendment of National Waste Management Plan of 2020–2030 in April 2023 which allows the transformation of existing or planned Centers for Sorting Recyclable Materials (CSRM) to Waste Treatment Units (WTU). The Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy has the final authority in determining the number of facilities at the country level, as well as regions of service per unit and of their location units. This law allows privately initiated projects for the creation of waste-to-energy units it will support with 600 million Euro investments in recycling recovery units.
• Law 5037/2023, which came into force in March 2023, transfers waste management to the Regulatory Authority for Energy which is renamed to Regulatory Authority for Waste, Energy and Water. Article 253 allows for the installation of small biological treatment units on high productivity lands.
• Enactment of Law 4819/2021 came into force in July 2021 and concerns waste management, plastic products and the protection of the environment. Greece incorporated the two most important EU directives of the second European Action Plan for the Circular Economy (2020) (i.e., EU Directive 2018/851 on waste and EU Directive 2018/852 on packaging and packaging waste) into the national legislation. The law supports the national waste management plan, with the goal of minimizing landfills to 10% by 2030, five years earlier than the EU requirement. Waste management legislation and policy now includes, in addition to reuse and recycling, other waste streams such as energy recovery. There is a provision in the law for the creation of waste energy recovery units, where the solid waste will be used for energy production (article 63). Since January 2022, all non-recyclable waste (residue) can be used as secondary fuel in the energy-intensive industry and in energy utilization units.
• Ministerial Decision no. 99398/6484 was issued in 2020 which establishes a unified and stricter legislative framework for environmental licensing for Waste Processing Facilities and shortens the relevant procedures.
Opportunities for U.S. firms
There are several projects throughout Greece either currently running or in development for the installation and management of Solid Waste Treatment units. The projects listed below are financed by the Operational Program “Transport Infrastructures - Environment and Sustainable Development 2014-2020”, which includes resources from the Greek Solid Waste Management Agencies (FODSA) or local municipalities, European funds, etc. The primary Greek firms involved in these projects include GEK Terna, Helektor, AVAX, Intrakat, Mytilyneos, Messogeios, Thalis and Watt.
• The largest projects currently total over $761 million euro and include a waste transfer station at Schisto and the Waste Treatment unit at Central Athens.
• A Waste Treatment unit in the state of Larisa with a budget of 125 million Euro. The facilities will receive and mechanically and biologically treat: – 61,479 tn/year of remaining mixed city solid waste and – 12,600 tn/year of pre-selected organic waste.
• A Waste Treatment unit in the state of Magnisia state with a budget of 103 million Euro. The project includes the construction of a Solid Waste Treatment Unit, with a total capacity of 50,592 tons of residual mixed waste per year as well as all the necessary infrastructure and the supply of mobile equipment. Because it is necessary to promote systems for the treatment of organic waste, with separate collection of organics from mass focus points or households, as well as other organic waste (green, etc.), a Preselected Organic Fraction Processing Unit will also be built within the area with a capacity of 15,200 tons per year.
• A Waste Treatment unit at Achaia state with a budget of 114 million Euro. The project will be located within the FLOKA Landfill, with a total capacity of 53,032 tons per year. It includes all the necessary infrastructure and the supply of mobile equipment. A Bio-Waste Processing Unit with a capacity of 8,113 tons per year will also be built. The contract’s duration will be six years and will include the option for the expansion works of the facilities and additional equipment.
• Waste Treatment unit at the eastern sector of Thessaloniki with a budget of around 242 million Euro. The project will process 150,200tn per year of which 128,200tn will be mixed waste. It will process 36% of the mixed waste generated by Thessaloniki and Halkidiki, the remains of Sorting Center for Recyclable Materials of Halkidiki and Eastern Thessaloniki (15% each), the residues of the bio-waste processing units of Halkidiki and Eastern Thessaloniki (10% each), and 22,000 tn per year of pre-selected waste from the 1st Biowaste treatment unit of Thessaloniki.
U.S. firms engaged in waste treatment and interested in expanding their activities in the Greek market can contact the Commercial Service in Greece’s Environmental Industry Specialist Teresa.Gile@trade.gov or Recycling Industry Specialist Nikos.Papachrys@trade.gov.