The paper collected by the Directorate of Recycling and Waste Management of the municipality of Thessaloniki, from the two Sundays of the elections, reached 18 tons.

On the two Sundays of the last self-governing elections – and despite the recommendations from many quarters to use less paper in the pre-election period – the quantities used were large while it is impressive that more than 2 tons of paper were consumed only by the candidates of the municipality of Pavlos Melas, a municipality with 100,000 voters and about 700 candidates.

“We collected ballots and envelopes from the 477 polling stations of the municipality and took them to the sorting center. This quantity is recycled. It will become paper again”, Kostas Iakovou, the Deputy Mayor for Cleanliness of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, told APE-MPE.

The same procedure was followed in the national elections. The amounts of paper collected then were clearly less

According to the calculations of the deputy mayor for Environment, Recycling and Cleanliness of the municipality of Pavlos Melas Sakis Lazaridis, who spoke to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency, each candidate for mayor or municipal councilor consumes – on average – about 3 kilograms of paper, on posters, cards, leaflets, envelopes and ballots. Proportionally, for a municipality larger than 100,000 voters, paper consumption almost doubles.

In the municipality of Pylaia – Hortiatis, 2-3 tons of paper were also collected from the ballots and envelopes.

“We gathered the amount of paper and called FODSA to pick it up as we have signed an agreement for the sorting and recycling of the waste”, Deputy Mayor for Cleanliness Ioannis Kartalis told APE-MPE.

The amount of paper spent in total for the Regional Unit of Thessaloniki is difficult to calculate. However, only the FODSA of Central Macedonia, on the first Sunday of the elections, collected 14 tons of paper. But if care is not taken, its collection and disposal will render it useless.

The tons of paper consumed before elections and especially in municipal elections when the candidates are numerically multiple, must be collected and recycled. Otherwise the ecological damage is calculable.

However, the main responsibility lies with the municipalities. Most collect the election materials the day after the election. But there are large quantities of election paper which cannot be collected. Such as leaflets on car windshields, letterboxes, cards, envelopes, crossed ballots of the candidates that they distribute at their events or inside their election centers.

However, Mr. Ignatios Kaitezidis disagrees with these calculations for paper consumption. “These numbers are arbitrary”, said Mr. Kaitezidis and president of the Regional Union of Municipalities of Central Macedonia in his statements to APE – MPE. “Through the Greek recycling company, which is a municipal program, this paper is collected, arrives at the sorting center and is then recycled,” he added.

In the case of the municipality of Pavlos Melas, the paper that was collected was put up for tender and sold. The municipality won about 1,200 euros. However, Mr. Lazaridis emphasizes that if the paper is not separated from the beginning then there is a risk of it being destroyed. “Even the blue bins are unsafe. The paper inside them can be destroyed,” he adds.

The Solid Waste Management Agency of Central Macedonia collects the paper the day after the elections if called by the local municipalities. “We collect the paper from the polling stations. We collected about 14 tons of paper in these elections (including the first Sunday). The rest is collected by the municipalities and sent to recycling. The paper is made into bundles which are sold to private recycling companies through a bidding process to be reused”, said Michalis Geranis, the chairman of the municipal council of Pylaia-Hortiatis and the chairman of FODSA of Central Macedonia, to APE-MPE.

“For us, recycling is the third stage. First of all, we need to produce less waste. As long as we produce them, let’s separate them and at the end recycle them”, he added.

There are also cases where the recycling of election paper, such as that of ballots, is done almost simultaneously on Sunday or the day after the election. Many citizens – especially older ones – collect packets of ballots and use them as rough notebooks. “And this is positive because it is reused and not thrown away,” says Mr. Geranis with humor.

“The easiest and “cleanest solution” will be when the elections are held electronically,” noted the deputy mayor for Environment, Recycling and Cleanliness of the municipality of Pavlos Melas, Sakis Lazaridis.