The meeting of the Extended Producer Responsibility Systems for the Packaging Recycling from 7 Balkan countries (Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Cyprus) was successfully completed, with the participation of representatives from the Italian and Belgian Systems with theme "Packaging Recycling: The Cornerstone of Balkans' Society Future Sustainability".

The meeting of the Recycling Systems took place for a second year in our country, on November 29-30, organized by the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HERRCO) and EXPRA (Extended Producer Responsibility Alliance), under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Municipality of Athens and the Hellenic Recycling Agency (HRA), with the aim of disseminating best practices and exchanging know-how.

The Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HERRCO) is a member of the European organization EXPRA, which includes the National Recycling Systems that have been set up by the obliged packaging producers and operate on a non-profit basis, in accordance with the statutory procedures and the corresponding legislative regulations. In the focus of the discussions of the EXPRA Balkan Workshop were key issues for Packaging Recycling, such as the developments of the new EU legislation, the challenges posed in the immediate future and ways to answer them, the quantitative results of the countries and the Systems – Members of EXPRA, as well as the necessary conditions that will form the basis for improving the performance of Packaging Recycling both in Greece and in the rest of Balkan countries and Europe.

The Chairman of the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HERRCO), Mr. Michalis E. Oikonomakis, stated: "This year we are hosting in our country, the annual Balkan Meeting of the Packaging Recycling Systems. We aim for this meeting to be a dynamic platform for disseminating best practices and promoting the exchange of know-how for the common benefit. HERRCO has been operating for 22 years the Collective Alternative Management System licensed by the Greek State, with the Blue Bins and Blue Bells as the main method of collection. It is the largest and most reliable packaging recycling operator, contributing 95% to the National Result. It is worth noting that HERRCO last year achieved the recycling of 472 thousand tons against an obligation of 290 thousand tons, reaching 163% of its target. All this positive result could not have been achieved without the continuous support of the 3,500 contracted businesses, the cooperation with KEDE and 312 Municipalities, the contribution of partners and employees in the recycling projects, but above all without the participation of millions of residents of the country who support over time recycling projects that bring significant environmental and social benefit".

In the context of the workshop, Mr. Manolis Grafakos, Secretary General of Waste Management Coordination of the Ministry of Environment and Energy, stated that: "Recycling is a key element of sustainable development and the top process in this is packaging recycling. We are not proud of the rates of general recycling that we have as country, and for this reason, in the coming period, important legislative and other initiatives will be announced by the Ministry in order to move quickly in this area as well. However, we are proud to achieve the goals in packaging recycling and HERRCO is a key partner in this process". Finally, Mrs. Alexandra Toya, Managing Director of HRA, emphasized that: "The climate crisis is a reminder that the choices we make today have an impact on the world we are building for future generations. Packaging Recycling is not just an environmental necessity, but an investment in the well-being of our society."