Sustainable waste treatment plant in Greece’s West Macedonia region reduces landfilling

EU financing has supported the design and construction of an integrated management system and treatment plant for municipal waste in Greece’s West Macedonia region. In line with the requirements of national and EU rules, the plant has reduced the amount of municipal waste ending up in the landfill, increased the recovery of recyclable and biodegradable materials and has led to the production of compost.

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Waste management plant © DIADYMA SA Waste management plant © DIADYMA SA

" The project is expected to boost the region’s growth prospects, creating at least 200 jobs during construction and about 150 permanent jobs during operation. But what is equally important to us is raising public awareness and preventing waste, which is a major challenge for future generations. "

West Macedonia Governor Theodoros Karypidis

The waste management plant, which commercially started operating in June 2017, has the capacity to process 120 000 tonnes of waste annually. The plant includes a mechanical sorting facility, where the residue is separated from recyclable materials and biodegradable fraction.

The organic fraction is bio-stabilised with aerobic treatment in the biological treatment unit and a ‘Type A’ compost is produced, which can be used for quarry rehabilitation or as for covering material in the landfill.

The plant is able to treat 45 000 tonnes of biodegradable waste and recover 15 000 tonnes of recyclable materials. The remaining waste is under 4 000 tonnes, which is treated for sanitary land filling.

During its first year of operation the  plant has successfully exceeded its contractual targets: more than 80 % of biodegradable waste is diverted from landfilling, more than 36 % of incoming recyclable materials are recovered, while less than 35 % of the incoming municipal waste ends up buried in the sanitary residue landfill.

A public-private partnership

The plant is operated a public-private-partnership involving the Greek government and by EPADYM SA. EPADYM is responsible for the financing, construction and operation of the plant until 2042. The plant collects waste from the region’s 12 municipalities – where a total of 300 000 people live. The plant is part of a wider regional target of achieving compliance with the EU’s waste legislation and environmental strategy. The site is located about 22 km from the city of Kozani.

Construction and sustainability

Along with the treatment plant, several other installations have been built or commissioned during the project – a residual landfill, an additional waste transfer station, a waste water treatment plant, a workshop facility and administration buildings.

Some 200 temporary jobs were created during the construction of the plant. The plant’s operation along with the waste transfer within the region created about 150 new permanent jobs.

The waste transfer system consists of 10 regional transfer stations, where municipal waste is loaded in specialised waste trucks and then brought to the plant for treatment. Nine of these already existed as state-owned stations. Another station was built for the project in the town of Kozani.

The project emphasised the importance of the ‘3Rs’ — reduce, reuse and recycle. The transfer stations are to be turned into big ‘green points’, where materials can be collected for recycling and re-use. The creation of a network of smaller green points that are more easily accessible for city dwellers is also planned.

The green point system aims to raise public awareness and prevent waste generation. It focussed on the conservation of natural resources, thus contributing to a circular economy.

The World Finance Magazine acknowledged the project’s success through the 2013 award for ‘Waste Deal of the Year’, mainly due to innovative blending of financing from the EU – the Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) and the European Investment Bank.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Integrated Solid Waste Management System PPP in Western Macedonia” is EUR 48 000 000, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing a EUR 12 700 000 loan  through the “Central Macedonia - Western Macedonia - Eastern Macedonia & Thrace” operational programme for 2007-2013.

Draft date

15/02/2019