Waste Transfer Station in Eykarpia, Greece

Residents and stakeholders are opposing the construction of a Waste Transfer Station and co-incineration technology close to the city of Efkarpia, promoting recycling and composting and not huge infrastructure that requires large amounts of garbage

Efkarpia (Mun. of Pavlos Melas) is located in the Greater Thessaloniki Area in Northern Greece, 10 km from the city center. In a distance of 700 m from the city of Efkarpia a Waste Transfer Station (WTS) was sited, behind a cement industry (Titan) currently in operation. The area was intended to be reforested. The 20 years’ regional solid waste management planning for Thessaloniki was approved in 2005 and it included the construction of 7 Waste Transfer Stations. At the end of 2007, beginning of 2008, the Efkarpia WTS was decided to be combined with a waste incineration plant and a recyclables sorting center [1]. The wider area is much degraded, as plenty of industrial activities are located, amongst others: 2 lime Industries, a non-restored landfill, hazardous waste treatment plants, illegal lead batteries processing and oil plants, 3 highways, etc. [2]. According to the plans, the Efkarpia WTS would receive the wastes of the 5 municipalities of Western Macedonia, including the 60% of the biggest municipality, Thessaloniki. The Environmental Impact Assessment foresees that the plant’s capacity will be from 1,100 to 2,340 tn/day and the estimation was for 400.000 tn/year. However, according to the official recording, wastes produced was 240,000 tn/year (e.g. 700 tn/day) in 2011. This reduction is partly due to the financial crisis and there are predictions that wastes’ production will be reduced the years to come. Beyond this, the EIA has several ambiguities and distortions [3]. Furthermore, in 2010 Titan asked for the permission for burning alternative fuels. The local movement considered that the plan is to have free fuel from the WTS and to get subsidy from the state [1]. The residents’ movement considered that this was a clear proof that their objections were well founded. However, under residents’ movement pressure, the license was revoked by the Thessaloniki Prefecture Council [4]. Following all that, Efkarpia residents reacted asking for cancelation of the project and the selection of another area for building the WTS, within Efkarpia territory. Residents’ reactions were provoked due to the proximity of the WTS to the city of Efkarpia, in an area already degraded due to the existence of other disturbing activities. In addition to this, the oversizing of the plant proves that the goal of the strategic planning is not waste reduction, and the creation of a waste incineration plant would be a political decision. In January 2012 the residents found out that works has started in the WTS worksite area and they managed to stop them. Organizations throughout western Thessaloniki formulated the Network of 50 organisations and stakeholders against the construction of Efkarpia WTS next to TITAN [3]. Since then, tens of assemblies, information events and mobilizations were organized across Western Thessaloniki municipalities, informing and mobilizing residents in order to cancel the building of the plant. The Municipality of Pavlos Melas issued two declarations against the construction of the WTS and indicated an alternative area for building the plant, which was not so close to the city. It has to be mentioned that according to the General Urban Plan the city will be expanded even closer to the WTS [3, 5].  Several meetings took place with the engaged stakeholders (Regional Association of Central Macedonia, Association of Municipalities of Thessaloniki Prefecture, Solid Waste Management Body etc.) in order to find a solution, although they denied to consider the alternative proposal [6]. In March, the police intervened and residents were arrested. In July riot police appeared on the site. Nevertheless, the residents continued the blockade of the worksite. In the meantime, the stakeholders who supported the building of the plant launched an information campaign for supporting the Efkarpia WTS. [7]. The demonstrations, the information events (concerts, debates, etc.) and the assemblies, the blockades and the arrests continued and the residents proceeded to interim measures and appeals submission. Members of the Parliament submitted inquiries to the government. In July 2013, the works started again with the presence of riot police. The residents continued their actions as well, attempting to stop the works [8].  In February 2014, it was the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change that restored the license for burning alternative fuels to the cement industry Titan. At the same time, the president of the Association of Municipalities of Thessaloniki Prefecture (responsible for the building of the plant) is led on trial for failing to take measures to prevent environmental degradation of the region old dump [4]. At the end of the same year the Council of State rejected one of the actions filed against the WTS by Efkarpia residents [9]. During all this period, acquittal court decisions were issued for the residents arrested during the blockades, with the last ones issued in November 2015 [10]. At the same time, the works were temporary suspended due to technical problems. In November 2015, the Mayor of Thessaloniki declared that the WTS will be ready by July 2016, describing the residents’ reaction as driven by interests. [11]  
Basic Data
NameWaste Transfer Station in Eykarpia, Greece
ProvinceCentral Macedonia
SiteEykarpia – Municipality of Pavlos Melas
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPlant’s capacity: 1,100 to 2,340 tn/d – eg 400.000 tn/year (wastes from the 5 municipalities of Western Macedonia, including the 60% of the wastes of the biggest one, that of Thessaloniki
Project Area (in hectares)10
Level of Investment (in USD) 13,084,800,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population13,905 (Efkarpia) 99,240 (Municipality of Pavlos Melas) 1,074,827 (Prefecture of Thessaloniki)
Start Date01/12/2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesCement Industry TITAN (TITAN) from Greece
Relevant government actorsSolid Waste Management Body; Municipality of Pavlos Melas, Prefecture of Thessaloniki, Regional Association of Central Macedonia, Association of Municipalities of Thessaloniki, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Solid Waste Management Body
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNetwork of 50 organisations and stakeholders against the construction of Efkarpia WTS next to TITAN in which parents associations; cultural, environmental and scientific organizations; unions etc. participated
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Genetic contamination, Global warming, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesThe movement asks for an integrated solid waste management, promoting recycling and composting and not huge infrastructure that requires large amounts of garbage. Furthermore, the Municipality of Pavlos Melas indicated a different location for the WTS, remoted from the residential districts.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Despite the movement’s dynamic struggle, the blockades and the legal proceedings, the works started again and the prediction is that the plant will be ready by July 2016. The movement and the residents declare that they won’t allow the operation of the plant and the use of waste as alternative fuel for the cement industry Titan. So, it’s not clear what the outcome of their struggle will be.
Sources and Materials

[1] Network of 50 organisations and stakeholders against the construction of Efkarpia WTS next to TITAN, 2012, Press Release concerning the Central Macedonia Regional Association of Municipalities meeting and our views
[click to view]

[9] Spassos M., 2014, Efkarpia WTS: we continue, Dromos newspaper,
[click to view]

[2] The positions of the Network of 50 organisations and stakeholders against the construction of Efkarpia WTS next to TITAN
[click to view]

[3] PM News, 2012, Debate: Network of 50 organisations vs Efkarpia WTS
[click to view]

[4] Stokokkino.gr, 2014, Efkarpia-Derveni, a story about garbage,
[click to view]

[5] No to the construction of Efkarpia WTS, Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/%CE%8C%CF%87%CE%B9-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B7%CE%BD-%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%BA%CE%B5%CF%85%CE%AE-%CE%A3%CE%9C%CE%91-%CE%A3%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%B8%CE%BC%CF%8C%CF%82-%CE%9C%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%86%CF%8C%CF%81%CF%84%CF%89%CF%83%CE%B7%CF%82-%CE%91%CF%80%CE%BF%CF%81%CF%81%CE%B9%CE%BC%CE%AC%CF%84%CF%89%CE%BD-%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B7%CE%BD-%CE%95%CF%85%CE%BA%CE%B1%CF%81%CF%80%CE%AF%CE%B1-258835137521318/

[6] Municipality of Pavlos Melas, 2012, Press Release on The efforts for changing Efkarpia WTS continue,
[click to view]

[7] Network of 50 organisations and stakeholders against the construction of Efkarpia WTS next to TITAN, Facebook page, 2012, Press release: We managed to stop once more the construction works in Efkarpia WTS, despite the presence of riot police,
[click to view]

[8] Network of 50 organisations and stakeholders against the construction of Efkarpia WTS next to TITAN, 2013, Press Release for the invasion of riot police in Efkarpia,
[click to view]

[10] Voria.gr, 2015, 20 inhabitants of Efkarpia were declared innocent for their participation in a protest against the construction of Efkarpia WTS,
[click to view]

[11] Alterthess.gr, 2015, Boutaris (Thessaloniki’s Mayor): The Efkarpia WST will be in full operation by July 2016,
[click to view]

Media Links

Blockade of the works for the construction of Efkarpia WTS
[click to view]

Other Documents

Blockade of Efkarpia WTS construction February 2012
[click to view]

Blockade of Efkarpia WTS construction January 2012
[click to view]

Demonstration January 2012
[click to view]

Protest during the Regional Council meeting March 2012
[click to view]

Riot police attack October 2012
[click to view]

Efkarpia WTS
[click to view]

Efkarpia WTS
[click to view]

Motor-bike Demonstration in Thessaloniki
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Demonstration March 2012
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorErmioni Frezouli, Geography Department - Harokopio University Athens (HUA).
Last update18/03/2016