On the weekend of 13 and 14 April 2019 the conference under the title ‘No Time To Waste’ took place in Athens. The conference was organized by collectives and individuals active in environmental issues in the country and was concerned with the current predicament of waste management in Greece.
The conference organizers explained that this is a particularly critical period for waste management in Greece. The country has one of the lowest recycling rates in EU and its highly dependent on land-filling as a method of municipal waste disposal. At the same time, while the only legal landfill that has been serving for decades the needs of Athens and the wider region of Attica has by far exceeded its capacity, there are currently no other waste infrastructures ready to accommodate the capital’s garbage. By pointing out the imminent threat of a waste crisis, the organizers also noticed the need for societal participation in finding answers to this problem.
The conference aimed at bringing together a variety of people and collectives to discuss possible alternatives practices and processes that would contribute towards a public decentralized model of waste management. Hence, the conference hosted contributions by workers, activists, academics, researchers, and institutional representatives as a way of creating an interdisciplinary dialogue to highlight diverse political practices, collective actions, community struggles, and local initiatives that have emerged around issues of waste. Infra-demos participated with a presentation by Yannis Kallianos which discussed critical interconnections between infrastructure and waste in relation to the Attica waste management paradigm but also within the context of the wider capitalist industrial system.
Over the two days of the conference more than 30 presentations, which composed the conference programme, discussed issues touching upon a variety of thematics. The current situation of waste management in Greece and Attica was discussed and examined in relation to its historical development. Other presentations focused on processes of waste reduction and practices of reuse. Contributions also discussed the role of institutional frameworks at state and local government level within the context of waste management. Another important discussion that took place concerned the emergence of diverse participatory processes and community struggles around waste and wider environmental issues throughout Greece. In addition, during the two-day conference an art exhibition was organized featuring installations and art pieces based on various recycling, upcycling and reuse practices by artists, academics, and students.
The conference is, yet another, important indication of the proliferation of collective struggles, initiatives, and contestation around infrastructures in Greece, and waste infrastructures in particular, in times of crisis.
For infra-demos research on urban waste see:
Dalakoglou, D., & Kallianos, Y. (2018). ‘Eating mountains’ and ‘eating each other’: Disjunctive modernization, infrastructural imaginaries and crisis in Greece. Political Geography, 67, 76-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2018.08.009