At the beginning of the 20th century, gyrologists were already systematically collecting used papers for recycling in the paper industry of the time. The consumption of paper was, however, very small, only a few thousand tons per year. At that time, newspapers, after being read, were turned into packaging material for products from the grocer or fishmonger. Used newspapers were the primary packaging material at the turn of the century. Waste paper, waste paper were the main paper recycling products. Recyclers of the time sold the old newspapers as packaging material to grocers, greengrocers and other stores. Most papers were imported into Greece. Of the paper produced in the country, 60% came from old used paper that the gyrologists collected from the street, printing houses, factories and workshops.
Around 1922, paper recycling begins on a more systematic basis. Gyrologists from Athens but also from other cities, sell the paper they collect to D. Voutselas who has opened a small warehouse in Psirri Square. An amount of up to 10% is thus added to the pulp imported from abroad. Gyrologists and rock collectors move around with carts and carts. The paper goes into the cart and is pushed with a door from above. Most, however, carry it in large sacks, the burdes.
The most organized paper factories and graphic arts industries have started to appear in our country at the beginning of the 20th century: the envelope shop in 1918, Ladopoulos in Patras which had the largest paper factory in the Balkans at the time, Aigli, the paper factory of Aegion , Sarandopoulos in Athens, the paper industry of Kefala, Athenaiki in 1938, etc.
After the Second World War, new data is introduced in the field of recycling. PAKO paper mill opens its own warehouse and collects 8-10 tons of paper daily (today paper mills collect over 200 tons of used paper per day). At the beginning of the 60s, the Biohartiki factory was built in Aspropyrgos and PAKO in Pelasgia. A little later, the production of paper begins in Thessaloniki too, using as raw material straw from cereal crops, mainly from the Thessalian plain.
Today, the association of old paper traders includes over 80 people employed in an organized and professional manner in the collection of paper and its recycling. Paper consumption in Greece has exceeded 1,200,000 tons per year, when in 1976 it did not exceed 400,000 tons. Every year 350,000 tons of used paper are collected for recycling. The biggest “producers” of reflective paper are super markets, industries, printing houses, book binderies, schools, etc.
Thousands of people secure the financial means of their survival by collecting the paper from the basements of the printing presses or from state-of-the-art offices, from garbage places on the street or shopping areas and markets, from schools or social institutions, from people who think they will get rich by selling 100 kilos of paper or from people who collect even the smallest piece of paper believing that in this way they will contribute to the protection of the environment.
Kitchen and toilet paper, packaging paper, cardboard and cartons are currently produced in our country from the collection of used paper for recycling. Despite this, to date there is no comprehensive policy to promote recycling in our country: legislative regulations, financial tools, information, investments. Paper recycling in our country has not yet reached the high rates that have been achieved in recent years in other European countries.