Tilos – the first island in the world to achieve ZERO waste to landfill

  • The Greek Island of Tilos has shut down its landfill, removed all communal bins from the streets and embarked on the Just Go Zero Tilos program – a fully circular waste management system starting with door-to-door collection and resulting in the full recovery of all waste streams produced on the island.
  • Just Go Zero Tilos initiative was presented for the first time at a public event that featured speeches by the Ministers of State, Mr. Akis Skertsos and of the Environment and Energy, Mr. Kostas Skrekas.
  • The project is financed and fully supported by technology from Polygreen and it is being implemented by Polygreen and the Municipality of Tilos with the approval of the Region of South Aegean.
  • The results from Just Go Zero Tilos are already impressive with more than 85% of the Island’s waste recovered and composted.

Island of Tilos, May 11, 2022 – Polygreen and the Municipality of Tilos have launched the Just Go Zero Tilos initiative, bringing a zero-waste goal to reality for an entire municipality and paving the way for circular waste management across other parts of Greece and around the world.

Thanks to the mobilisation and active participation of the local community, the investment in technologically advanced equipment and new management infrastructures, Just Go Zero Tilos manages all waste generated on the island, drastically reducing the impact on the unique natural environment of Tilos.

There have already been impressive results from the initiative, with the recovery rate of materials from waste currently exceeding 85%.

Polygreen’s Founder and CEO, Athanasios Polychronopoulos had the honour to present the Just Go Zero Tilos initiative to Her Excellency, the President of the Republic, Mrs. Katerina Sakellaropoulou and to an audience of Government Ministers, MPs, officials and journalists.

During her official visit to Tilos, the President of the Republic visited 3K, the new Circular Innovation Centre that replaced the island’s landfill. The waste is transported to this centre and processed for further circular management. 3K was also visited by the Minister of State, Mr. Akis Skertsos and the Minister of the Environment and Energy, Mr. Kostas Skrekas. During their visit the officials were shown the advanced process of sorting, packing and composting from respective waste streams.

Mr. Athanasios Polychronopoulos, founder of Polygreen and mastermind of Just Go Zero, described the program as an example of applied solutions and know-how, the implementation of which at other locations around Greece would radically change the perceptions and practices of citizens and businesses alike and ultimately contribute to the current concept of waste being eliminated.

Mr. Polychronopoulos said: “A new culture starts today in Tilos, one that historians will one day call the “culture of the islands of the South Aegean”. A culture characterised by 100% landfill diversion, full circular waste management and, most importantly, a completely new perception of life. We are envisaging a future, where waste will only be seen in museums. ”

The Mayor of Tilos Island, Mrs. Maria Kamma Aliferi said: “Thanks to the Just Go Zero Tilos project, which follows the European project for Tilos’ energy autonomy, Tilos is to become an example of applied green innovation and reap multiple benefits, such as: A cleaner environment that improves the daily life of both residents and businesses and a reputation as a sustainable destination attracting more environmentally conscious visitors and international tourists.”

The Just Go Zero Tilos project has also created 10 new workplaces on the island, securing 10 additional jobs.

To ensure the active participation of residents and businesses, authorities carried out an information and support campaign in the local community, including training sessions involving every business and household on the island. This approach significantly contributed to change in local community attitudes and perceptions of waste, resulting in an impressive response to the new practices introduced by Just Go Zero Tilos.

The Just Go Zero solution is based on appropriate waste sorting at the source. To achieve this, all households and businesses of Tilos were provided dedicated collection equipment. The sorted waste is collected door-to-door according to a daily schedule communicated by the Municipality. Collection activities are intensified during the summer period to cater for the dramatic increase of visitors to the island.

The collected waste is taken to the 3K Circular Innovation Centre which is equipped with modern machinery and high-tech waste handling solutions. There, waste is sorted further and is directed towards recycling or composting, and a small part towards production of alternative fuel for the cement industry.

The project is supported by an innovative digital platform that keeps track of the volume of three main types of waste collected (recyclable waste, non-recyclable waste and organic waste) from each household. The platform provides residents and businesses with real-time information regarding the quantity of recycled waste materials. This information is an additional incentive, encouraging all stakeholders to further improve recycling rates.

Just Go Zero Tilos also provides for the use of special waste streams, such as used household appliances or small furniture. The latter are taken to the newly established Centre for Creative Upcycling to be repaired or to be used as material for artistic creation. In the immediate future, this newly established Centre will host artists The New Raw and Hypercompf, who will  demonstrate upcycling and circularity concepts with artistic creations and art installations inspired by the island’s character.

In addition, the program operates a permanent information point on Tilos. “Point Zero” welcomes both residents and visitors providing them with instructions on how to properly  utilise the Just Go Zero system, equipment, and infrastructure. One of the long term aims of the Program is to turn “Point Zero” into an exhibition space for artwork produced by the Centre for Creative Upcycling.

The May 10th event was also addressed by the Minister of State, the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Regional Governor of South Aegean, Mr. George Chatzimarkos and the Secretary General for Waste Management of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, Mr. Manolis Grafakos. The European Commissioner responsible for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Mr Virginijus Sinkevičius also sent a videotaped message of greetings.

For more information visit the video on Polygreen’s website here.