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A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE REGIONAL MUNICIPAL SOLID WASTES MANAGEMENT PLANS IN GREECE

Alexander P. Economopoulos
Laboratory of Air, Water and Land Pollution Management, Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania 731 00

ABSTRACT The first national MSW management plan was drafted in 2000 from the synthesis of the existing Prefectural plans. This promoted the construction of numerous small landfills, most of which did not provide the necessary economy of scale, could not be evolved into integrated sites with the addition of treatment plants and their leachates and biogas could not be properly managed. For these reasons the Ministry of Environment requested new plans, at Regional level, by the end of 2005. These however failed to remedy the above shortcomings and introduced new ones, such as the vigorous construction of new landfills by the end 2008, followed with the treatment of most MSW right from 2010; the potential use of expensive pretreatment technologies and the reliance on complementary treatment technologies not yet developed, and; the excessive management costs. In view of this situation, a new rational national plan is urgently required. This will ensure optimal use of all existing and anticipated infrastructure, and will set the stage for the most effective combination of treatment methods and their optimal spatiotemporal development.

1. INTRODUCTION The national plan for the management of the Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) needs to satisfy all relevant regulations and E.U. directives with the least cost and maximum public acceptance. The directive 94/62/EC in particular sets escalating requirements for the reduction of the organic materials that can be landfilled, thus setting the stage for progressively increased treatment requirements. The diagram of Figure 1 yields the annual quantities of MSW that have to be treated and can be landfilled per 100 tons of MSW (reference production year 2006) over the period July 2010 to June 2020. This has been derived by considering the annual increases in the production of MSW, total organics, paper and cardboard, and by assuming 60 % paper and cardboard recovery for recycling.
Production of MSW
150

Direct Landfilling

Quantity of MSW, t/y per 100 t/y MSW porduced at reference year 2006

140 130 120 110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Year
(from July of treference year to June of next year)

Figure 1. Quantities of MSW to be landfilled and treated per 100 t/y of MSW (production reference year 2006), based on the requirements of directive 99/31/EC 2. PREFECTURAL PLANS OF 2000 The first national MSW management plan was drafted in 2000 and was a synthesis of the existing Prefectural plans. The latter were mainly focused on the elimination of uncontrolled waste disposal and promoted the construction of numerous small landfills (70 in the Greek mainland, 11 in Crete and 43 in the remaining islands, a total of 124), corresponding to at least one for each city with population of 9.000 or more. The implementation of this national plan was found to be ineffective: Most of the numerous small landfills lacked the economy of scale, their leachates and biogas remained often uncontrolled, their evolution into integrated management sites with the addition of treatment plants was grossly uneconomical, and there was widespread reaction by the people.

3. REGIONAL PLANS OF 2005 In view of the above, the Ministry of Environment requested new plans, at Regional level, compiled and approved by the end of 2005 ( 50910/2727/22.12.03). Table 1 summarizes some key data from the Regional plans that have become available. A review of the Regional plans leads to the observations of sections 3.1 to 3.3 and to the discussion of section 3.4 below. Table 1. Selected data from Regional Plans 2005
Region East Macedonia & Thrace* Central Macedonia West Macedonia* Epirus* Thessaly* Ionian Islands* Western Greece Central Greece Attica Peloponnesus Northern Aegean Southern Aegean Crete Total Population (2001) 611.067 1.874.214 301.522 353.820 753.888 212.984 740.506 605.329 3.761.810 638.942 206.121 302.686 601.131 Landfills Up to 1999 2 New 6 16 1 7 7 5 8 9 2 7 7 32-39 9 117224 Transfer Stations 10 18 9 12 18 3 9 > 8 14 14 >8 56 07 10 > 129-143 Treatment Installations Existing New 1 7 1 1 1 3 5 6 1 5 1 32

2 2 1 2 1 1 3 14

1 1 1 3

* Data from the National Plan of 2000

3.1 Landfills The excessive number of landfills contemplated by the Prefectural plans was not reduced. On the contrary their total number has been increased, Table 2. About 60 % of the landfills are to be constructed from now till the end of 2008. Most of the existing landfills are new and able to accommodate the MSW produced well past the year 2020, Table 1. Table 2. Landfill numbers foreseen by the Prefectural plans 2000 and the Regional Plans 2005.
Region Prefectural Plans 2000 11 10 11 1 10 11 6 32 92 Regional Plans 2005 16 9 11 3 7 12 8 32 39 98 105

Greek Mainland (5 from a total of 8 Regions) Central Macedonia Western Greece Central Greece Attica Peloponnesus Islands (3 from a total of 4 Regions) Crete Northern Aegean Southern Aegean Total

3.2 Transfer Stations: Their number is excessive, Table 1. Transfer stations are foreseen for urban areas with populations as low as 2.500. Even in small Prefectures with numerous landfills, several transfer stations are envisaged. Wastes from urban areas are occasionally hauled by packer vehicles in direction opposite to that of the nearby landfill, only to be transported back by transfer station vehicles. The lack of optimal planning for an integrated (road, rail and marine) transport system is most apparent and restricts seriously the management options. 3.3 Treatment Installations: The treatment installations are numerous, Table 1, and their size is often small and far from optimal (see section 4 below). The treatment technologies are often not specified, but a common requirement is that of the thermal exploitation of MSW. Among the treatment technologies the use of biological drying appears likely in several regions. Its use is directly specified in the regional plan of Peloponnesus, and, although not specified in the regional plan of Attica, E.I.A. studies have already been completed and environmental terms approved for relevant installations. The treatment requirements come into effect from 2010 and escalate over time, Figure 1. Yet, most regional plans do not provide a time-schedule for plant startups and escalating capacities. These for Crete and Peloponnesus directly specify treatment of most MSW right from 2010 and the same appears likely in other regions. The region of Central Macedonia makes an exception, with a timeschedule defined. 3.4 Treatment requirements, landfill capacities and biological drying In addition to the lack of optimality in the number and size of installations (landfills, transfer stations, treatment plants) and the absence of planning for an integrated transportation system, one may notice the following: There is a tendency (directly specified in some regional plans and allowed in others) for treating most of the MSW right from 2010, or even sooner. This is costly and cannot be justified by the lack of landfills. Numerous landfills are being constructed and ample capacity will be available in most regions by the end of 2008. Moreover new sites, economically accessible, are available for landfills of virtually unlimited capacity (see section 4 below). There is an apparent conflict between the pursued treatment of most MSW by mid 2010 and the vigorous construction of landfills with ample capacity by the end of 2008. Normally, treatment reduces drastically the landfill requirements and hence the construction of so many new landfills is not normally required.

Contrary to the above, common wisdom would indicate gradual development of the treatment installations according to requirements, Figure 1, and use of the available landfills for direct disposal of the untreated MSW. This however applies with all treatment technologies, except for biological drying, the use of which is specified in some regions and appears likely in others. Biological drying is a pretreatment method that removes metals (about 5 %) and inners (about 15 %) and decomposes a limited fraction of the easily biodegradable organics to generate energy for 4

reducing the moisture from the remaining wastes. Through biological drying the MSW are converted into Solid Refuse Fuel (SRF), which is more suitable for gasification. The latter produces synthetic gas, which can be used for energy productions, Figure 2.

Figure 2. Pursued treatment with combined use of biological drying and gasification However, according to the results of a literature and internet search, the SRF gasification technology is not yet available. Alternative use of the SRF, as in utility boilers and cement kilns, is limited as it creates operational and environmental problems [1]. Use of the SRF in incineration plants is economically prohibitive as the direct incineration of the MSW is far cheaper (see Figure 4 below). As a result, most of the SRF produced in Europe in the end of 2004 was landfilled [1]. This situation is represented by the diagram of Figure 3.

Figure 3. Practiced pretreatment with biological drying As the biological drying imparts a limited reduction in the organic fraction of the MSW, one has to bio-dry the entire quantity of the MSW, right from the year 2010, in order to meet the initial relaxed requirements of the directive 99/31/EC. In addition, one needs ample landfill capacity to accommodate the produced SRF, nearly as much as for the original MSW. The above might offer a logical explanation why a regional plan can dictate, or imply, treatment of most MSW from 2010 and pursuit, at the same time, vigorous construction of new landfills with ample capacity by 2008.

Treatment of the entire MSW quantities from 2010, along with the extensive landfill requirements, constitutes an expensive proposition, as shown in section 3.5 below. In addition, use of biological drying creates the risk of inability to meet the escalating organic reduction requirements after 2013, and especially after 2020, unless the gasification of SRF becomes feasible in the near future. 3.5 Cost impact of alternative technologies A model able to generate typical equipment profiles and to calculate the cost of Aerobic Mechanical Biological Treatment plants [2], along with cost data published in the literature, e.g. [3], [4], [5], [6] allow initial estimates of the capital investment and annual operating costs of treatment technologies. Figure 4 yields the treatment costs of alternative technologies based on the above data and the assumptions associated with the following two scenarios: (a) The treatment plant is owned and operated by a municipal association. In this case one can assume a capital cost of 5,5 % and no VAT payment. (b) The treatment plant is owned and operated by a private enterprise. In this case one can assume a capital cost of 14 %, along with VAT payment.
Aerobic MBT Incineration Bio-Dryning (Pretreatment) BioDrying & Gasification 180 170
300 320

Aerobic MBT Incineration Bio-Drying (pretreatment) BioDrying & Gasification

160
280

150 140 130


260 240 220

Treatment cost, /tn

Treatment cost, /tn

120 110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40

200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60

30
40

20 10 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500


20 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500

Quantity of MSW, 1000 t/y

Quantity of MSW, 1000 t/y

(a)

(b)

Figure 4. Indicative treatment costs, adapted to year 2006, for installations built and operated by: (a) municipality associations, and; (b) private enterprises [3] In both cases it is assumed that the average life of equipment and infrastructure is 20 years and that the annual quantity of MSW processed is equal to that from 260 days of plant operation at full capacity. The cost estimates do not include the possible income from the sale of products or energy and the expenditures for the transport and disposal of the rejects. 6

As most treatment plants in Greece are likely to be built by private investors, the production costs of Figure 4b are more applicable. Combining the above costs, for plants with adequate size, with the treatment requirements of Figure 1, one can easily assess the cost of alternative treatment methods per 100 t/y of MSW (at reference production year 2006). The results over the decade July 2010 to June 2020 are presented in the graph of Figure 5.
Aerobic MBT
35000 30000 25000 20000 15000 10000 5000 0 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Incineration

Bio-Drying

Bio-Drying + Gasification

reatment cost, per 100 t/y MSW produced at reference year 2006

Year
(From July of the year of interest to June of next year)

Figure 5. Indicative treatment costs of alternative technologies per 100 t/y of MSW (production at reference year 2006) From the preceding analysis it would appear that the cost of biological drying is considerably higher than these of aerobic Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) or incineration. This is not only due to the high cost of biological drying, but also to the need of biologically drying nearly all quantities of MSW, right from 2010 (see section 3.4 above). The preceding analysis shows also that as soon as the SRF gasification technology is developed and relevant plants are built, the treatment cost will escalate further. From Figure 5 one can easily calculate the difference in the treatment costs per 100 t/y MSW (produced at reference year 2006) between: Biological drying (a pretreatment), and aerobic MBT. The use of the former is specified in some regions and appears likely in others. Biological drying + gasification and aerobic MBT. The former is to be employed as soon as the SRF gasification technology becomes available.

Figure 6 yields the additional cost (over that for aerobic MBT) required for treating 5 million t/y of MSW (production at reference year 2006) with (a) biological drying, and (b) biological drying and SRF gasification. The extent of the use of the biological drying is not known at this stage, so the cost differences in Figure 5 represent an extreme scenario. They serve however to indicate the possible importance of the selection of the most appropriate treatment technology.
Bio-Drying Additional treatment cost, per 5 million t/y MSW produced at reference year 2006 BioDrying + Gasification

Billions

1,4 1,2 1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2 0,0 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Year
(From July of the year of interest to June of next year)

Figure 6. Difference in the annual treatment costs between: (a) biological drying and aerobic MBT, and (b) aerobic drying + SRF gasification and aerobic MBT, for processing 5 million t/y of MSW (produced at reference year 2006). Subsidies in the construction costs and/or products of treatment plants (currently subsidies as high as 100 /t of RDF and recyclables are provided to aerobic MBT plants) may reduce the costs that are apparent to municipalities and may even affect the competition among alternative technologies. One may argue that already, the vigorous construction through E.U. and government funds, of ample landfill capacity that could absorb freely the large quantities of SRF produced from biological drying constitutes an indirect subsidy to this particular technology. All other technologies have far fewer rejects and do not need this expensive landfill infrastructure. The subsidies however cannot reduce the burden of an expensive management scheme to the national economy and to the citizens. The latter will have to pay, one way or another, the cost through higher municipal taxes, increased consumer product prices (burdened by the cost of alternative management of packaging materials), diversion of government and E.U. funds from other beneficial uses, etc. It should be noted that the financial analysis in this section is based on capital investment and operating cost data obtained from the literature. These data may differ from the actual ones in each par8

ticular case, as the latter are affected by several parameters (composition of MSW, process variations etc.). The biological drying in particular is a new technology with few plants in operation and the gasification of SFR is a technology under development. As a result, the cost data reported in literature are scarce, especially for gasification, and their accuracy cannot be verified from independent sources. Moreover, with the maturation of these new technologies, design improvements and cost reductions are possible. One additional source of uncertainty are the parameters used for calculating
the annualized capital investment costs; these may differ from the ones assumed above for scenarios (a) and (b), as they depend on local economic conditions (e.g. inflation, interest rates) and the marketing

policy of the investors. Due to the above reasons, the economic assessments made in this section may differ substantially from the actual cost figures from each particular case. Hence the economic conclusions that can be drawn from the preceding analysis should be considered as indicative. Much more extensive studies are needed to support any decision. To be on the safe side, the economic conclusions drawn here should not be used for a-priory exclusion of any treatment technology; on the contrary, they could be used for averting the a-priory exclusion of some technologies. 4. RATIONAL PLANNING From sections 2 and 3 it would appear that the Regional Plans of 2005 failed to rectify the shortcomings of the Prefectural plans of 2000; instead, they introduced new and potentially more serious ones. This situation calls for an urgent rationalization of the existing MSW management plan, before further extensive commitments are made. A method that could be used for developing optimal plans in a study area and the software packages that make this possible are described elsewhere [3], [8], [9], [10], [11] and can be summarized as follows: 1. Selection of the most appropriate combination of separation, collection, treatment and final disposal methods.
The objective here is to select the basic elements of the management scheme, without having to devise a detailed management plan. The strategic decisions made at this stage must allow the development of a cost and environmentally effective management plan that is able to meet all relevant legal requirements.

2. Rational selection of sites for treatment and disposal installations. A set of Nomographs, along with a step by step procedure, allows planners to easily find the required number of treatment and disposal facilities in a given area, optimally balancing the economy of scale of central sites against the increased costs of transportation. Through the application of the above procedure, priority can be given to the use of sites that are known to be particularly suitable, and the need for additional sites can be defined [8]. For the definition of the required new sites, a new method has been developed that makes extensive use of GIS for locating proper areas that meet all environmental criteria [3], [11]. Application of this procedure to the Greek mainland shows that less than 7 aerobic MBT plants or less than 3 conventional incineration plants are sufficient. These plants could be located at particularly suitable candidate sites that are available, with the possible need for one additional site to be searched in the regions of Western Greece and Epirus [8]. These results contrast sharply with the 71 landfill sites and the 27 treatment plants foreseen by the existing Regional plans. Table 1. 3. Development of detailed management plans. This task is complex, but it can be accomplished with the use of software systems, like the one described elsewhere [9], [10]. The program uses the results from steps 1 and 2 above and formulates a 9

detailed management plant that minimizes the sum of the annualized capital investment and operating costs. This plan ensures the optimal use of all existing installations, and defines, for each new one, its proper location, size, technology, optimal configuration and operation, start-up time, sources of inputs, destinations of outputs, capital investment and operating costs etc. The planning can accommodate changing quantities and properties of MSW, as well as escalating waste recovery and treatment requirements over the design period. The capability of defining the optimal use of all existing infrastructure in the context of a new rationalized national plan is particularly important, since a fair number of installations, mainly landfills and transfer stations, are already constructed or are under construction and commitments are made for a still larger number of installations to be completed by the end of 2008. Although the outcome of the detailed plan cannot be predicted, a clear priority can be expected on the treatment of all MSW produced in Attica, the largest region and the only one with no landfill infrastructure. This could be supplemented by MSW treatment in one or two more selected regions from 2013, so as to fully satisfy the treatment requirements, at national level, till 2020. This way, ample time can be provided to the remaining regions to take advantage of their extensive landfill infrastructure for direct, low cost, disposal of their untreated MSW [3]. REFERENCES Juniper Consultancy Services Ltd. (2005) Mechanical-Biological-Treatment: A Guide for Decision Makers Processes, Policies and Markets. SITA Environmental Trust, Juniper and ASSURRE. 2. Armeftis, J., G. Naxakis, and A. P. Economopoulos, (2006). Design configuration and cost analysis of mechanical sorting and aerobic composting plants. Proc. Int. Conf. Protection and Restoration of the Environment VIII. 3-7 July 2006, Chania, Greece. 3. Economopoulos, A. P. (2006). Planning for optimal MSW management and technoeconomic aspects of treatment methods. Int. Conf. on Management of Priority Waste Streams. June 15-16, 2006, Nicosia, Cyprus. 4. Eunomia Research & Consulting, (2002). Cost for Municipal Waste Management in the EU, Final Report to Directorate General Environment, European Commission. 5. Tsilemou K. and D. Panagiotakopoulos, (2005). Economic Sustainability Criteria and Indicators for Waste Management. LCA-IWM. Contract number EVK4-CT-2002-00087. 6. Georgieva K., and K. Verma, (1999). Municipal solid wastes incineration. World Bank Technical Guidance Report. Washington D.C. 7. European Topic Center on Waste, (2002). Biodegradable municipal waste management in Europe. European Environmental Agency, January 2002. 8. Economopoulou A. A. and A. P. Economopoulos, (2005). Transport Distances versus Economies of Scale for Municipal Solid Wastes Treatment and Disposal Installations. Conference proceedings. 9th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology. Rodos, Sept. 3 to 6, 2005. 9. Economopoulou, M. A., A. A. Economopoulou, P. P. Economopoulos and A. P. Economopoulos, (2005). Optimal Solid Wastes Management / Part I: Methodology and Software Infrastructure. Int. Symposium on Environmental Technology HELECO 05. Technical Chamber of Greece. Symposium Proceedings. 10. Economopoulos A. P. (2004). A methodology for formulating optimal MSW management plans / Results from its application in Attica Region. Publication of the Technical Chamber of Greece, p.p. 48. 11. Despotakis B. and A. P. Economopoulos, (2005). A GIS model for landfill sitting. GNEST. 10 1.