Athens municipality ensures efficient waste management service for City of the gods residents

Written by: Tim Byrne | Published:

Athens, the capital of Greece, has a population of 667,000 people which due to tourism doubles in the summer. Waste management, therefore, is a very important task, writes Tim Byrne, waste collection specialist in Mediterranean countries

The municipality in Athens provides a waste management system for the city 24-hours a day, 365-days a year, to collect the 311,000 tonnes of waste produced annually. To provide this, the municipality has a fleet of 45 waste collection vehicles driven by 245 drivers.

The vehicles and staff are based at the central depot and offices in Iera Odos Street in the Egaleo district of Athens. This is near the central road networks ensuring an efficient and productive delivery of waste management services across the city.

Waste collection rounds

To provide a sustainable waste collection system, the municipality has two waste collection rounds for non-recyclable waste and two rounds for recyclable waste. These rounds are based on a collection frequency of 167 waste collection programmes, so waste may be collected in certain districts in the night, the early morning or mid-morning. In some areas, such as Syntagma Square and Omonia Square, waste is collected three times a day because of the large quantities of waste generated by hotels, restaurants and shops. Waste is also collected in the afternoon from daily markets held across the various districts once they close.

The municipality has provided green coloured 1100 litre containers for the non-recyclable waste fraction, positioned at communal collection points along the street. For the recyclable waste fraction, blue coloured 1100 litre containers are provided for the commingled collection of dry mixed recyclables.


The non-recyclable and recyclable waste fractions are collected using rear loading type waste collection vehicles. The bulk of the waste collection fleet are 16m3 rear loaders fitted with trunnion/bin lifting equipment mounted onto Mercedes Econic 1828 4x2 two axle chassis powered by liquid natural gas. This helps to reduce emissions and the carbon footprint when collecting waste in the centre of Athens.

The remainder of the fleet are16m3 rear loader equipment complete with trunnion/bin lifting equipment mounted onto a conventional diesel powered Iveco Eurocargo 190EL28 4x2 two axle chassis. These waste collection vehicles also feature a bin washing device in the rear tailgate canopy of the waste collection vehicle to facilitate the washing of the 1100 litre containers once they have been emptied.

The municipality also uses smaller type waste collection vehicles of 7m3 capacity mounted onto Iveco Eurocargo 4x2 two axle chassis. These collect waste from the streets with narrow access or which have many apartment buildings where many cars are double parked thus restricting the access of a larger waste collection vehicle.


The waste collection crew comprises a driver and two loaders for the larger waste collection vehicles and, in some cases, for the smaller satellite waste collection vehicles, a driver and one loader. The waste collection operatives position the 1100 litre containers containing either the non-recyclable or recyclable waste fraction at the rear of the waste collection vehicle to be emptied by the vehicles’ lifting equipment.

Once the 1100 litre containers have been emptied by the lifting equipment, the operatives position the container at the communal collection point to be refilled. Any excess waste next to the full 1100 litre waste collection containers is also cleared, leaving the area clean and tidy.

Disposal options

At night the driver takes the fully loaded waste collection vehicle to either the mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant at Ano Liosia to the North of Athens or to the Schistou waste transfer station to discharge the vehicle’s load. Both facilities are operated by ESDNA, the intermunicipal owned waste management company responsible for treating municipal waste produced by the municipalities across the region of Attica.

The Ano Liosia MBT plant is one of the largest in Europe, helping Greece to meet its EU landfill diversion targets, and provides a sustainable waste treatment system for Athens and Attica. The Schistou waste transfer station has a daily processing capacity of 600 tonnes and the waste delivered to this facility is transported daily by a fleet of ESDNA Scania 8x4 Multilift LHT320.56 hook loaders to the Fyli sanitary landfill site at Ano Liosia or to the MBT plant at Ano Liosia for processing/treatment.

In the day, the waste collection vehicles deliver their waste directly to the Fyli sanitary landfill site at Ano Liosia, also operated by ESDNA and the largest in Greece. This disposes of all municipal waste which cannot be processed in the MBT plant, produced across Athens as well as from the 66 municipalities across Attica. The landfill site complies fully with the requirements of the EU Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) and flares methane off site and treats leachate on site in its own desalination plant.

On the smaller side

The smaller type waste collection vehicles of 7m3 capacity mounted onto Iveco Eurocargo 4x2 two axle chassis which collect waste from narrow access streets collect two loads of waste per programme. To provide a more logistical solution to these smaller vehicles travelling to the MBT plant, waste transfer station or sanitary landfill site, once full they return to the main depot and offices in Iera Odos Street in Egaleo. Upon arrival, they discharge their loads into one of four 46m3 rear loading semi trailers.

These are powered by an auxiliary engine so the tractor unit which hauls the rear loading semi trailer to the MBT plant, waste transfer station or sanitary landfill site can be used on other duties e.g. taking one of the sister trailers to be emptied. The 46m3 rear loading semi trailers hold 25-27 tonnes of waste. Once these are fully loaded, an Iveco Trakker two axle tractor unit hauls the trailer to either the MBT plant at Ano Loisia, or the Schistou waste transfer station to be discharged during the night or to the Fyli sanitary landfill site for discharge in the daytime.

The use of these rear loading semi trailers enables the smaller type waste collection vehicles of 7m3 capacity to continue their waste collection programme and collect their second load of waste without having to travel distance to the waste treatment centres.

The municipality also operates a mobile waste container service for larger waste producers with a variety of waste containers available to suit larger establishments such as hospitals and industry. These containers can be delivered and collected from site using a conventional Scania P94 4x2 two axle skip loader vehicle, a Scania P94 4x2 two axle hook loader vehicle or an Iveco Trakker 6x4 three axle hook loader vehicle.

Bulky waste

There is also a facility at Iera Odos,– Egaleo for the discharge of bulky waste e.g. waste furniture which is collected by smaller sized non – compaction vehicles. The furniture is reloaded at Iera Odos – Egaleo for bulk hauling to the Fyli sanitary landfill site.

In conclusion, the municipality provides a sustainable waste management system for Athens, which will be further developed in the near future with the construction of a purpose-built waste transfer station, where municipal waste will be discharged by waste collection vehicles and reloaded into top loading 56m3 waste transfer trailers.

It will be bulk hauled to the MBT plant at Ano Loisia or to the Fyli sanitary landfill site, thus optimising and achieving higher levels of productivity from the waste collection service as well as reducing damage to the conventional fleet of larger waste collection vehicles from having to drive off road at the landfill site.

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