Halandri shows the way to alternative waste management

Their own “battle” for greater, more efficient recycling and better disposal of waste is given by the municipality of Halandri with its inhabitants for about a year. Specifically, in the last 14 months, the local authority “runs”, in cooperation with the National Technical University of Athens, the Waste4Think pilot project on the use of household waste, an initiative implemented in the European framework of HORIZON 2020.

The approximately 1,000 Halandri inhabitants who voluntarily participate in the program do not dispose of domestic fermentable waste, that is to say, food waste (except bones), fruits, vegetables and used kitchen paper, in the green bins but separate them using the equipment that the municipality has freely allocated to them. They collect these garbage in a 30-liter individual household coffee bucket, in special biodegradable bags made of fermentable organic materials. Volunteers then fly these bags in brown 120 liter bins.

According to the professor at the National Technical University of Athens and the municipal councilor of Halandri, Gerasimos Lyberatos, who spoke at the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA), “the key” in this story is double: “First of all, citizens are up to date, they have been given a brochure and instructions on what they can throw in the buckets and what not. Still meetings are held with them and we inform them about the course of the program in order to keep their interest alive. And the second is the special recycling bin, which opens with a special key that only the participants in the program have. This is important to ensure that “what is collected in the bucket is what is needed “.

After about one year of running, this pilot project has been established. It is a freak that this is an excellent way of collecting garbage. In particular, he told ANA-MPA: “The response of the world is excellent and the quality of the waste is incredible, ie we have less than 1% material failure. The participating residents are currently throwing less than 10% of their garbage into the classic green bucket. If this is applied across the whole of Attica for example, then we will no longer need landfills”.

Subsequently, these wastes are led to a desiccator-dryer and in this way a biomass from food residues, called FORBI (Food Residue Biomass), is produced. As he explained in ANA-MPA, one of the main characteristics of FORBI is that it weighs 1/5 of the bio-waste it has started with. This means that someone is saving too much, having less weight and volume to transport and manage. The second, which is very important, is that FORBI has a very low moisture content and this results in it being kept and stored for long periods without decomposing. Still homogeneous and odorless.

But what are the uses of FORBI and how can citizens benefit from it?

As found by FORBI analyzes made at the National Technical University of Athens its composition is excellent and can be used either for the production of fuel or other products. “We have seen that it can produce enough of biogas, which can be methane, it can be hydrogen, or it can even mix these two and give us Hythane, which still has better combustion quality than simple methane. That is what fuel can be used by someone to move the city’s garbage cans and that is what we are going to do, “said Lyberatos, and continued,” This is a very good example of a circular economy. This reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saves money and creates jobs. ”

These are not the only uses of FORBI since they can still be used as compost, pellets, feed, or for the production of activated carbon.

However, the benefits of this way of using domestic refuse do not have a positive impact only on the environment and the economy, but also on society. According to Mr. Lyberatos, in this way: “You are an active citizen. A citizen involved in the process and not just someone who throws the rubbish and does not care what will happen from here on. ”

The hope of Mr. Lyberatos is that other municipalities see the benefits of this program and copy it. “Imagine in all the municipalities of Attica instead of throwing food waste in the way that has been done so far, rotting in the landfill creating environmental, economic and social problems, all this being exploited and produced to a large extent FORBI, either for fuels for municipal transport, or compost for tree planting “.

In the future plans of Halandri, with regard to this pilot project, it is quite soon to join this 10% of the municipality’s inhabitants, that is, an entire municipal district, and later to be implemented throughout the city.