Waste management in Argentina is moving forward

I just came back from magnificent Buenos Aires where I partcipated as a speaker at the ISWA Beacon Conference on Sanitary Landfills. I was surprised by the magnitude and the interest of the participation, whic was more that even the optimistic organizers expected.

It seems to me that in Argentina it is a period of increasing know-how about waste management and that ARS (the local ISWA member) is becoming a real effective agent in decision making.

There were really interesting debates about waste management planning procedures and experiences, a lot of succesful examples about applied technology concepts as well as a succesful discussion about the future of landfills and their social acceptance.

I was also impressed by the Brazilian experiences and the level of presentations deleivered by ABRELPE: these guys are really working hardly to improve waste management in Brazil.

I really enjoyed my participation and interaction with the audience during my lectures and I have to be gratefull for the things I learnt.

Soon, I will post my presentation about "Change and Waste management"

Beside from my special thanks to organizers, especially to Mr Atilio Savino and Ricardo Rollandi, I have to say that Mrs Soledad Garavelli was the real soul of the conference.

I really feel that the future of ISWA in Latin America is in good hands

I hope to see you again friends


Public - Private Partnerships and Solid Waste Management Infrastructure

This is a presentation recently (2007-2008) delivered in Hungary and Serbia regarding the concepts of PPPs and their application in waste management. Certain consequenses and modifications are marked for the design, preparation and implementation of such projects.

The whole presentation can be found at:


Decision making for waste treatment technologies

This is a presentation made in Novi Sad, Serbia at 2006 during the conference "Growth of the solid waste sector: Management and solutions". The whole presentation can be found at:


Summary: main concepts and tools available to design an integrated waste management system under the sustainability approach


Thsi paper has been published at Sardinia 2001 conference. The whole paper can be found at:


Summary: The construction of landfills is a no alternative option, since a landfill is always necessary independently of the specific waste management system that will be developed. The criteria that must be met to allocate a landfill are various and in many circumstances conflicting. For that reason the result is not univocal, it depends on the criteria and the methodology used together with its restrictions. The suggested methodology utilizes GIS technology for the input, the management and the visualization of the geographic data while fuzzy logic is used for the analysis of the data and the evaluation of the final results. The basic elements of the fuzzy logic methodology as well as its potential in the specific problem are described. A case study took place in one Governorate in Egypt, one of the twenty-seven country administrative units. The results drawn up by fuzzy logic are compared with that of the classical Boolean approach of data analysis.

Uncontrolled landfill investigation: a case study in Athens

This is a paper published in Waste Research and Management 1999, 17, 159-164 . The whole paper can be found at:


Uncontrolled landfills comprise one of the most important topics as regards to Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Greece. The enviromental impacts of these landfills are closely related to some particular characteristics, namely the composition and quantity of the disposed solid wastes and the conditions that control the physicochemical processes inside the waste volume, which in fact determine the rehabilitation plan . The objective of this paper is to present a method to gain all these crucial data. The definition of the necessary information in order to have a sufficient knowledge about the landfill processes and the choice of the appropriate overall measurements (biogas, geophysical methods) are the key factors to transced the problem of unconformity and the absence of data, without wasting time and money.

Developing the strategy for biodegradable waste management in Greece

This is a paper published in 2004 in the conference "Biodegradable and Residual Waste Management 2004", CRe, Harrogate, 2004". The whole paper can be found at:


Summary: The Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste, places targets on Member States to reduce the quantities of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) going on landfill. Greece taking advantage of the four-year extension allowed for those countries landfilling more than 80% of their waste in the year 1996, is formulating its strategy by placing targets for the years 2010, 2013 and 2020. The aim of this paper, is to present the approach for the formulation of the Greek Strategy, given a wide array of economic, cultural and geographic constraints coupled with a lack of reliable data-series on waste production.


This a paper published in Sardinia 2005 conference. The whole paper can be found at:


SUMMARY: The specialization and knowledge improvement of those who are occupied in the sector of solid waste management is a high priority. The contemporary development of technology and legislation framework in combination with the accumulated management experience of solid waste structures, point to this direction. E-learning seems to be a useful tool not only for the development of labor market of the sector but also for the sustainability of solid waste facilities. Example: “Sanitary Landfill Manager” program.


This is a paper published in Sardinia 2001 conference. You can find the whole article in


Summary: The objective of this paper is to contribute in finding an effective decision – making tool for landfill design in developing countries. The paper is based on the experience gained from the implementation of the project «Action plan for the site location and the development of design, operation and environmental impact assessment methods of solid waste sanitary landfills in Egypt governorates» which is granted by EU LIFE 3rd Countries program. Taking into account a risk based approach, a simplified but effective landfill design tool is proposed. It is believed that such a tool can provide a good basis for the conceptual landfill design within a framework of limited financial resources that characterize developing countries.


This is an article published in ISWA 2007 conference in Amsterdam.
The whole article can be found at:


SUMMARY: Although there is uniform waste management legislation throughout European Union, the implementation of it depends strongly on local conditions and technical, financial and human resources. Greece is one of the few countries of EU that do not incorporate thermal treatment in their waste management systems. The aim of this paper is to outline the main barriers and drivers for WtE concepts in Greece taking into account the experiences gained from the preparation of two regional waste management facilities in Western Macedonia and Achaia Prefecture. The short review of the case-studies will be followed by an outline and discussion of the national waste drivers and barriers for WtE technologies.


Public Private Partnerships in Waste Management: the first Greek Experience

First the facts: the first application for Public – Private Partnership (PPP) in the field of Waste Management (WM) has already been approved by the Special Secretariat for PPPs and the Interministerial PPP Committee.

The project of “Integrated Waste Management in Western Macedonia” includes design, construction and operation of a modern waste treatment facility and the relevant landfill for residues, as well as the operation of 9 transfer stations that have been already constructed, for 25 years. Detailed profile of the project can be found at http://www.sdit.mnec.gr/en/projects/projects/project0020.html. The budget is around 120 million Euros and up to 50% of this will be covered by the Greek Government, through PPP law regulations, while the rest will be the contribution of the local municipalities, through their Waste Management Authority (WMA) DIADYMA.

The project is already in the pipeline and it is expected to start operations at early 2010. During the preparation of the project, which has not yet been completed, there were several interesting issues that need to be discussed in a public discussion. The more important of them are addressed below.

1. Drivers for PPP in WM
The Greek WM market is in transition. A lot of landfills do exist and operate and some more will be constructed during next years, but the challenge of waste treatment has not yet been faced. Although there is a national strategy regarding directive EC 99/31 that puts strict targets for biodegradable waste and their diversion from landfills, the steps already implemented are poor.

Two Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facilities are under operation, but their environmental results are at least questionable. In any case, the operation of these facilities cannot satisfy the requirements set up by directive 99/31.

At the same time, in a lot of the big landfills there is a gradually harder pressure due to lack of space, with the case of Athens to be a symbol of the failure of the actual WM policy to meet EU targets.

Greek WM market and WMAs have understood the necessity for waste treatment, but until now there is no certain indication that EU or national funds will be used for that way. So the combination of treatment necessity and lack of financial resources is a big driver for PPP in WM.

The response of the Ministry of Finance to this situation is a hopeful signal for the market and we do hope that this is just the first of the required steps.

Additionally, the very short time period left to achieve the targets for biodegradable waste provides a great advantage to PPP procedures. Although preparation of a PPP contract is neither an easy nor a rapid task, there is much more flexibility and the PPP law provides certain tools that can significantly reduce the preparation period.

One more important driver is the experiences from the poor operation of the actual WM facilities. We all now understand that there is no mean to spend decades millions Euros to develop waste treatment facilities if we are not ready to ensure their effective operation. And the truth is that effective operation can be achieved if the contractor is responsible for that, which can only be achieved through PPP contracts.

2. Barriers for PPP in WM
Despite of the real strong drivers that do exist, the application of PPP in WM in Greece is really a difficult issue due to specific characteristics of the solid waste management systems.

First, the status and the human resources of the most WMAs are not capable to prepare and implement PPP contracts. Of course it is not by chance that the first effort started form DIADYMA SA, a Managing Authority with remarkable status in terms of human resources and a certain record of successes in EU funding and project implementation. But there are very few similar cases.

Second the cost barrier. In almost all the country, Greek citizens are used to pay negligible money for waste management and even so it is not always sure that the citizens achieve value for money. The great landfill dependence of the country is also a measure for that. There is a need for brave political decisions in order to have a gradual but steady increase of the WM expenses, if we want to have successful implementation of recovery and recycling targets.

One of the reasons that drove DIADYMA to a successful preparation was that the local authorities were persuaded that they have to increase the WM spending in order to achieve great environmental results. And the generous contribution of the Ministry of Finance to their willingness to pay is a good example that will certainly affect the political decisions required.

Last but not least barrier are the negative experiences of some PPP efforts that have been done previously. Of course it has to be explained that these efforts were out of the new framework. In general terms these failures were characterized by:
Poor or no preparation
Lack of performance standards
Lack of risk distribution
Lack of reliable commitment between the PPP contractor and the municipalities.

Thus, it is better that those efforts have totally failed.
3. A new view should be considered about project preparation
The Greek WMAs, the consultants involved to WM as well as the government and the contractors need to make a shift regarding project preparation. The application of PPPs to WM projects:
Should be combined with certain changes to project design. The overall feasibility of the project must be carefully documented, since PPPs are long-term relationships, which are based, in the financial contribution of the citizens and municipalities and not just t EU funds. Local affordability levels must be determined and tested before the contracts.
Must drove to a project preparation with emphasis on specific, desirable and quantified results instead of the usual more or less detailed design of the facilities that dominates the Greek market
Needs a careful and justified distribution of the potential risks of the project. This is something that is not yet understood by public decision makers which are used to ignore long term risks, but we all know that a PPP contract without efficient risk allocation will be a certain disaster.

4. The need for combination with EU funds
One of the more important lessons provided by the DIADYMA experience is the modern WM gate fees are too high for Greece, even in the case of one of the more efficient and expensive WM systems in Greece, that of Western Macedonia.

The Ministry of Finance put a great contribution of funds in order to cover the existing gap between gate fees for modern WM treatment and social capability to pay, affordability level in other terms.

But if a big part of the construction cost was covered by EU funds, the gap will be much more small and the implementation of similar projects will be affordable in much more cases.

The new government should consider this as the last opportunity for Greece to develop modern WM infrastructure utilizing EU funds that do exist. If these funds will be consumed once again just for landfills and transfer stations, this opportunity will be lost. Then, the future of WM in Greece will be much more expensive and undoubtedly difficult to consider it as “appropriate”.

A brief introduction of my core concepts for waste management

Let me introduce my self in terms of waste management “ideology”. I strongly believe in two core concepts.

Waste management systems are social systems with technical dimensions and not the opposite. Thus every waste management planning and infrastructure should be considered as a social interference with certain social, environmental and technical dimensions that should be considered. I give great importance to what is known as “stakeholders participation” in preparation, designing and implementing SWM systems and I believe strongly that a large part of my career, both national and international, has been based on this concepts.

Sustainability in SWM systems is a result of systemic approaches and interactions rather than technologies applied. So I am committed to no specific technology – instead I feel obliged to propose the application of the technical solutions that are more appropriate to the social development level and systems that will increase the social understanding of the SWM issues and change the customer’s behavior on a long term basis.

In this framework, I consider that we have to be very careful and proactive regarding the waste management legislation evolution in each country since it is, especially in EU, the most important driver for the waste management infrastructure and improvement. I have participated in the formulation of a lot of regulations in Greece, Egypt, and Hungary and recently in Romania and I recognize the high importance of legal issues in order to create the appropriate environment to drive waste management forward.

I strongly believe that a common as well as problematic approach to waste management is that we tend to focus just at the end of the life cycle (treatment – disposal) while the first steps of generation, recycling, storage and collection – transportation are left out of the scope of work, although those phases of life cycle deem to be much more crucial for citizens and their behavior. I believe that an increase in interest for collection – transportation impacts in the overall waste management life cycle becomes much more interesting in our days, as the climate change criteria take an important role in decision making for waste management options and activities.

I also consider Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT), as well as organic fraction source separation, as very important tools for waste management. MBT applications are a rela bridge to connect any kind of separate waste management activities and I fully support the idea that they must be a part of almost any integrated waste management system.

Regarding thermal treatment I think it is not a disaster, as sometimes it is presented, but it is not also the solution for every problem (as also sometimes is presented). It is a powerful but expensive technology tha has to be applied in the same conditions as the other waste management technologies, only if it is suitable socially, financially and environmentally affordable.