ENVIRONMENT: Cyprus needs to get a grip of its waste management

Cyprus Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou said more needs to be done to encourage recycling and reduce waste through political action and a comprehensive plan to maximise resources.

Addressing a Workshop on “Present and Future of Waste Management in Cyprus, the Commissioner said that introducing a ‘pay as you throw’ system was the basic principle for the implementation of local programs.

She added that the use of relevant technologies and the existence of processing and disposal facilities, were also important to the whole system.

“There is a need to support the local authorities with vehicles and equipment as well as to fund Green Points and sorting facilities, in order to initiate substantive source-sorting programs in each local authority or cluster, she Panayiotou.

This new philosophy should become a way of life at the workplace, in the neighbourhood, in the city we live in.

Panayiotou said that until now, growth has been based on an economic model of intensive use of available and imported resources without taking into account the long-term effects.

“The change proposed by the Cyclical Economy approach is based on maximizing the performance of existing resources and reducing losses in use. It is therefore expected, as a basic requirement for success, to learn how to count waste as resources and to leave nothing untapped.

She argued that a shift from the “supply, production, consumption and rejection” model to one based on “reuse, repair, refurbish and recycle” was needed.

“The role of local administration in this great effort is important and multidimensional. The management and recycling systems should not, in my view, have horizontal application but should be tailored to local specificities and needs.

Annual urban waste production in Cyprus was significantly higher than the EU average in 2017 (637kg per inhabitant in relation to 487 kg per inhabitant). After a few years of decline, the volume began to increase from 2014 onwards.

In Cyprus, there was a decrease in landfill and a slight increase in recycling and composting. However, 76% of waste ends up in landfills compared to 24% which is the EU average. And only 16% of the waste is recycled, including a 2% of composting. The respective EU average is 46%.

Despite a steady decline in 2009-2014, the landfill rate rose again in 2016.

Panayiotou said Cyprus should make a significant investment in recycling and sorting in the coming years, in order to reach the 2020 target and to increase by 50% of the recycling rate.

“The truth of the numbers is there in describing the problem and the challenge.

Panayiotou said that, first and foremost, there should be practices and policies to reduce solid waste through sustainable consumption.

As a second step, sorting at the source and promoting local recycling and composting programs was the most economical, environmentally and socially friendly option.

Source: The Financial Mirror