Located about 90km east of Rhodes lies the world’s first zero-waste island. Picturesque Tilos boasts white sandy beaches, scenic rolling hills, historic architecture and no bins.
In the 1980s, the island of around 800 people voted to become a conservation zone for wildlife. By 2018, they generated all their energy via renewables. This summer, Tilos was certified as Greece’s first zero-waste community.
The most modern measures have been implemented to solve an age-old problem. Specially designed and trademarked blue bags have a QR code that measures volume and content. A nifty ‘Just Go Zero’ app allows every household to monitor and track the circular management of waste materials as they are recycled.
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Only a few years ago, 87% of waste was being sent to landfill; now the island doesn’t have one. The old landfill site is now home to the Centre for Circular Innovation where rubbish is sorted, the organic waste converted to fertiliser. There’s also a Centre for Creative Upcycling for furniture or clothes no longer needed.
If successful, the island could serve as a zero-waste blueprint for the rest of the world to follow. That’s certainly the intention of environmental company Polygreen, who have pushed forward the initiative and hope to bring it next to the fossil fuel-enriched United Arab Emirates.