It is quite typical to see cows grazing on a rubbish tip in Greece, evidence of the country’s particular junk food problem. The EU is pressuring Athens to close down hundreds of illegal landfill sites that threaten the environment and the food chain. Environmentalists place the blame on decades of government inaction.
“There is no way to escape from garbage. If you don’t handle it appropriately then you are going to find it in your water – maybe after one year, or after five years or ten. You are going to find it in the food, immediately most of the time, you are going to find it in the air quality,” was one activist’s opinion. Greece landfills more than 80 percent of its waste, and has one of the lowest recycling rates in the EU, estimated at about 24 percent, compared to the EU average of 37. Athens says it has reduced the number of illegal dumps from 3,000 to several hundred in recent years. But Brussels is threatening heavy fines unless the rest are closed.