Research Objective

"The issue we were looking into is the broken waste management system on a finite Greek island. The opportunity is the engaged Greek and Expat community of the island, that is taking big and steady steps towards a greener island." - Xenia Tombrou


During our week-long field study of Corfu waste management, we spoke with stakeholders from different perspectives, visited relevant businesses & sites, and worked with subject-matter experts to test our assumptions.

In short, we combined methods from field research with design thinking to understand Corfu's waste management system and identify strategies for improving it.

<aside> 📂 See all our shared files on Google Drive



This issue affects Corfu's health, society, economics, and politics.

There is more waste being generated than can be collected, recycled, safely incinerated, or properly stored in landfills.

This has resulted in piles of trash around the island as well as a drop in tourism, safety & health issues, and violence.

Corfu Medical Association:Public health consequences of the tragic waste management situation - ΕΝΗΜΕΡΩΣΗ On Line

"They used the same truck for trash and recycling."

We heard over and over that people see collectors using the same truck for garbage and recycling. Whether this is accurate, people who see this understandably feel that recycling is a waste of time.

Garbage truck collecting a green bin on Corfu - Photo by

Garbage truck collecting a green bin on Corfu - Photo by

Corfiots feel that the municipality should be responsible for solving this issue.

The sentiment we probably heard the most is that the responsibility to address and solve this issue lies with the government, especially the municipality. Even though community volunteers, private companies, and (inter-)national organizations are taking action, laws and municipal government policies often limit their efforts.

Meropi Ydraiou: The Waste Management facility will be operational while I am Mayor - ΕΝΗΜΕΡΩΣΗ On Line

Corfu MP confirms on Facebook that Municipality΄s request for emergency award of contract for refuse collection has been approved - ΕΝΗΜΕΡΩΣΗ On Line

People don't trust the system.

Organizations that work with Corfu municipal governments, and citizens who are affected by their policies, have expressed to us their frustration with the lack of transparency they face.

Protesters in the streets of Corfu - Photo by

Protesters in the streets of Corfu - Photo by

Communities are already taking action.

22 Currently Open Community Recycling (Sorting) Centers as of July 2019

22 Currently Open Community Recycling (Sorting) Centers as of July 2019

Engaged Corfiots (native and expat residents of Corfu) have opened 22 volunteer-driven community recycling (sorting) centers in just over one year. People bring their recycling here to sort the materials, then the two licensed collection companies collect them for recycling.

Arillas Recycling Center (ARC)

Arillas Recycling Center (ARC)

Corfiots recycle more this year.

According to this statement by the Cleansing Service, recycling levels are significantly higher this year than 2018.

Community recycling (sorting) centers are quickly filling up.

Community recycling (sorting) centers don't have enough construction bags to store sorted materials, they don't have crushing machines to compress things to save space. They don't have any way to (pre-)process the materials, and their limited space is filling up, especially with large items like plastic chairs.

Commercial waste collectors are understaffed.

Because of the success of community recycling efforts and intervention by organizations like the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HE.R.R.Co), the demand for collection has grown. But commercial waste collectors are not equipped to handle the volume.

"We are 60% short of the required personnel."

Recycling is a tough business.

The economics of recycling are complex, but a few factors stand out as salient obstacles to collection and recycling. If we can change these, the economic balance would shift, and there would be more (economic) incentive to recycle.

Corfu's Waste Management System


We see five main groups of stakeholders.

Each group has its own needs that may stand in opposition with those of the other groups.

<aside> 👉 View the Google Doc here.


Full Stakeholder Map

Impact Objectives

Once we started mapping the system, three main impact objectives emerged. These represent the ways we hope the existing and future solutions will impact the system.


This overview shows each of the impact objectives, along with the obstacles, opportunities, and some example solutions for each.

<aside> ℹ️ Example Solutions shown in green are ongoing, while those in yellow are proposed.