To date (September 2019), 8 Good Practices have been identified in the Central Macedonia region, Greece, fulfilling the set identification criteria of the BIOREGIO project. Most of them are originating from private initiative. At this point in the project, where regional action plans have been developed, it is worthy to present a success story of a regional initiative supported by the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy. The initiative was put in practice by the Regional Association of Solid Waste Management Agencies of Central Macedonia as a pilot action, with the slogan "No Christmas tree in landfill".
Pilot action application in Central Macedonia, aims this image to belong in the past: "No Christmas tree in landfill" (source: followgreen.gr)
Its scope was the conversion of Christmas trees into wood chips, as it is a secondary raw material for pellets, biofuels and chipboards manufacturing as well as a potentially added material in organic waste composting process. To support this initiative, once the pilot action announcement was published, the operators of the landfill banned the disposal of Christmas trees on-site.
… the preparations
Citizens’ were called to transport their trees in 6 identified municipal disposal points located in the municipality of Thessaloniki. In case this was not possible (due to own means unavailability), they could notify the authority to collect them from municipal bins location through customized collection routes. Regular waste collection routes notified the appointed Christmas trees collection staff in case they noticed disposed trees in municipal bins.
Responsible personnel was also appointed by the municipality to remove the trees' wooden or other bases since metal nails could damage the shredding equipment. The shredding was undertaken by the municipal authorities in cooperation with Regional Association of Solid Waste Management Agencies of Central Macedonia and appropriate private sector contractors and was conducted in 3 individual days (start, middle, end of January 2019).
Piled up Christmass treas ready at the collection point of the municipality of Thessaloniki (source: GREENAGENDA).
To this direction, the resources used were 6 bulky waste containers: 2 (owned by municipality) and 2 (rented) & 2 (donated by private firms), 1 open municipal truck (that implemented 3 routes/day to transfer the trees to be shredded and another 3 routes/day to transfer wood chippers to a forest area), 10 municipal field workers, and 1 wood chipper. The funding required was zero (0€), since the regional municipalities’ applied their own means in terms of personnel and part of the equipment and managed to receive donations for the remaining equipment.
Shredding day at the municipality of Thessaloniki collection point (source: paralaxi.gr).
Overall, over 3 t of Christmas trees corresponding to 143 m3 that was 2,800 items (municipality of Thessaloniki), 300items (municipality of Thermi), 120 items (Pavlos Melas municipality), 220 items (Pilea-Chortiatis municipality) and 850 items (municipality of Thermaikos) were shredded instead of being disposed in the municipal landfill. To contribute to the pilot action the responsible operators of the local landfill banned the reception and disposal of Christmas trees in the facility.
The shredded materials (chips) was dispersed to forest areas pinpointed by the Association in cooperation with the forestry offices of Thessaloniki, Lagkada and Stavros. For the upcoming year (2020) the Regional Association of Solid Waste Management Agencies of Central Macedonia will implement the action again and this time use the shredded material for pellets manufacturing. Part of the financial return will be provided to vulnerable local social groups.
…the lessons learnt
Despite the fact that the pilot action scope and the disposal points were announced rather late (January 8, 2019), it was highly disseminated to increase the number of citizens’ that would respond to the recovery call. The success of the pilot action set the basis for its repetition in the upcoming year (2020) and due to lessons learnt the communication of the action is planned to take place earlier to increase participation and collection of a greater quantity of Christmas trees (biological waste) after season holidays.
Last but not least and based on the fact that the pilot action was implemented in cooperation with the Hellenic Ministry of Energy and Environment, the later bears high expectations that the good example set by the Central Macedonia Region to be followed by other Hellenic regions as well and perhaps set an example for other countries as well.