Waste management and the circular economy in Greece

Project description

Title: Support to the Implementation of the National Waste Management Plan of Greece
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) Co-funded by: European Union (EU)
Country: Greece
Lead executing agency: Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy (YPEN)
Overall term: 2018 to 2021

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In 2015, Greece adopted a National Waste Management Plan based on the European Union (EU) Waste Framework Directive. The government is currently updating the plan and is also already implementing initial measures. The challenge lies in achieving the planned objectives and recycling quotas by 2025 and reducing the greenhouse gas transmissions from the waste sector as a whole. The country has to reduce the proportion of waste going to landfill, raise recycling rates and improve the disposal of hazardous waste. Further obstacles are the difficult access to the archipelagos and the huge volumes of waste generated by tourism during the summer months.


The framework conditions for implementing the NWMP in Greece and for achieving its national targets by 2020 have been improved.

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The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is advising the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy (YPEN) as it carries out necessary reforms in the waste sector. The European Commission (EC) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) have commissioned GIZ to provide advisory services for this project.

The project analyses existing barriers, transfers relevant experiences and best practices from other EU Member States, and formulates recommendations for improving waste management in Greece. In this context, the project prioritises support for improvements in municipal waste management, regulatory issues within the waste sector and the management of specific waste categories. Technical support includes competence-raising at YPEN and among stakeholder representatives and project partners.

To improve municipal waste management, the project analyses and evaluates the separate collection and disposal of municipal waste, especially organic waste, and recycling. To reduce costs, besides conventional economic instruments such as fee-based systems, financial incentives to prevent waste or boost recycling are also being explored.

The project supports the regulatory aspects of waste management by providing advice on waste classification. It is also examining and making recommendations for a legal framework for economic instruments, in particular a deposit system for PET and glass bottles, as well as for cans. In addition, the project is working on concepts for awareness-raising measures to improve waste prevention, collection and recycling.

The project also provides advice on managing specific waste categories, such as construction and demolition waste, hazardous waste and sewage sludge. Special consideration is being given to the use of innovative technologies for processing waste and energy recovery. 

Project activities are being organised in close cooperation with YPEN and other Greek agencies, including the Hellenic Recycling Agency (HRA), the country’s Ministry of the Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Infrastructure, the 13 Greek regions and selected municipalities. The project is piloting measures in a number of municipalities in the Attica region, These include separate collection of organic waste as well as the use of financial incentives and the “polluter pays” principle, according to which the cost of environmental measures are billed to the polluter. The project also offers workshops for local community representatives, in addition to which synergies are being generated through cooperation with a range of industries, start-ups and non-governmental organisations. GIZ experts and specialist advisors on waste are ensuring that these issues become firmly embedded for the long term.


Support for the NWMP is making a major contribution to environmental protection and climate change mitigation and to Greece’s economic recovery. It is also creating new, future-oriented jobs. The holistic and decentralised approach taken by the project is helping to prevent marine waste, which is particularly important given the country’s topography and its large number of islands.

The project has conducted several studies and supports the drafting of a ministerial decree on compost standards as well as legislative amendments to be published at the end of 2020. 
A large results workshop took place in November 2019. The project informed municipalities from four regions about the national waste management plan, presented results from the studies and provided inspiration for a sustainable circular economy and waste prevention. A total of 175 people from 43 different municipalities took part, including 33 mayors and 22 deputy mayors.

The project is providing support for the introduction of the separate collection of organic waste to six cities in the West Attica region, in the form of feasibility studies and roadmaps. In July 2020, YPEN and GIZ conducted the first inter-municipal training course in Greece on introducing the separate collection of organic waste for pilot municipalities. The course focused on planning, equipment, routing, composting and monitoring, as well as on the accounting tool developed by the project. 39 municipal staff, including three deputy mayors, took place in this semi-virtual seminar.

Latest update: October 2020

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Additional information