Tilos: zero waste based on IND4.0


July-August 2022 Greek Business File, Issue No 138


by Antonis Mavropoulos,
CEO of D-waste, advisor
at the International Environmental
Technology Centre, United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP IETC)


On May 10th, the Zero Waste project on the small island of Tilos was officially inaugurated. A bunch of articles and blogs followed the official inauguration highlighting the innovative approach and the achievements of the project. Polygreen, the project’s sponsor and operator, has many reasons to celebrate its success and rightly aims to apply the model in other areas too.

Three months later, recycling rates have been stabilised above 80%, including a 35% in organic waste turned to compost. The separated material streams are 25 (instead of the maximum 4 in Greek municipalities), the landfill receives no waste at all and the residual stream is transformed to high quality secondary fuel for cement plants. Everything shows that the project will be further strengthened during the high tourist season, overcoming the last existing hesitations for its success. There are many people who enthusiastically accepted the project (including ministers and the regional governor of South Aegean region), as an initiative that shows that Greece can leapfrog forward in waste management practices. And they are partly true because all the project’s components can be easily replicable in any municipality. There are other people who hesitate or even refuse to accept Tilos as a role model because of the tiny population size (around 600-700 in winter and up to 4,000 during the high season). They are also partly true because obviously a zero-waste project cannot be delivered in a similar way in bigger municipalities.

First Greek IND4.0 project in waste management

But both the enthusiast and the hesitant need to consider the whole picture and not just the obvious one. The enthusiast must consider that the success of the project is really based on a successful integration of simple components (door-to-door, separation in many streams, digitalisation of the supply chain, advanced logistics) to a zerowaste business model. This integration was prepared for many months with field operations and communications with each and every household. In addition, this integration is supported or even better shaped by the digitalisation of the whole system. And exactly those two crucial aspects are difficult to be implemented by municipalities that are trapped in lack of resources and caged…

The full article is published in the July-August 2022 Greek Business Filehere.