Island of Tilos – zero waste gem in Aegean Sea

Photo: iStock


August 4, 2022






August 4, 2022





The island of Tilos in the Aegean Sea is implementing a waste management program that will enable the local community to dispose of almost all waste through a sorting and recycling system. It is the first island in the world that abolish landfilling, and over 80% of waste goes to recycling. Also, Tilos completely switched to electricity from renewable energy sources a few years ago.

Municipal waste management on the island begins with sorting at the source, in homes and offices. Every household on the island of Tilos participates in the Just Go Zero program by sorting household waste into recyclable materials, non-recyclable materials, and bio-waste.

Waste is resource, not garbage

A new waste management and recycling program in Tilos started in December with a company called Polygreen. The municipal waste recycling rate has since reached 86%.

The local authority removed all public dustbins. Tilos became the first island in the world that stop landfilling waste.

Former landfill site / Photo: Just Go Zero

All 350 households on the island, the municipality, and businesses participate in the Just Go Zero program. Island residents received unique waste selection bags with a QR code. Citizens can monitor their contribution to the zero waste initiative on a mobile application.

The selected waste is collected door-to-door on certain days of the week. The activity is more intensive in the summer when there are many tourists around. Every hotel on the island sorts waste.

Municipal waste is delivered to the island’s circular innovation centre, built on the former landfill site. In the facility, waste is sorted and prepared for recycling, composting, or sent for incineration.

Polygreen argues that such an initiative can be implemented on any other island, in the local community, city, or state

Just Go Zero is a circular economy pilot project in Greece. Tilos has become a waste-free island, and Polygreen has optimistically pointed out that such an initiative can be implemented on any other island, in the local community, city, or state.

The Cyprus-based firm works on integrated and innovative circular economy solutions. It negotiates the implementation of such projects with ten other local administrations in Greece, according to the World Economic Forum

Energy autonomous island

Tilos is located north of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea. More than 13,000 tourists per year visit it. The island covers nearly 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources.

The island, with just over 500 residents, is entirely energy self-sufficient.

The first hybrid power plant in Greece was built on Tilos. Electricity from wind and solar generators is stored in batteries. It makes the island, with just over 500 residents, entirely self-sufficient regarding energy.

All said programs imply tight cooperation between local authorities, businesses, and residents, who have changed and adapted their habits and everyday life to the community initiatives.

The island has become a green spot in the Mediterranean through pioneering ventures for installing renewable energy and managing municipal waste. The initiatives are good examples of how to reduce negative impacts on the environment at the local level.

Comments (2)
Aniko Papp / March 12, 2023

I am working with an island community in Australia called Magnetic Island and we are looking at our own zero waste systems here. We have 2,350 people and about 290,000 visitors each year, We are about 8 km off the mainland with only ferries/barges as the main transport to and from our island. I would be really interested in touching base with communities around the world to share ideas, practical solutions, pittfalls etc so we can get it right here if and when we can get it to happen here.

Marcia / August 31, 2023

I have been to Tilos twice and off again in a week’s time. This is fab news for the island and I look forward to visiting again now that this is in place. Well done Tilos!!

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