Stricter rules for recycling and landfilling in the right direction, Cypriot MEPs tell CNA

Cypriot members at the European Parliament have said that the legislative proposals on waste management, approved by the European Parliament on Tuesday, are in the right direction, pointing out however that a number of prerequisites have to be fulfilled for the whole effort to benefit the Cyprus economy, as part of the circular economy.

The Cyprus News Agency invited the Cypriot MEPs to give their view on the significance of the four legislative proposals which provide that Cyprus and the rest of the member states should limit the share of landfilling to 5% and increase reuse and recycling for household waste to 70% by 2030, up from the EU average of 44% today. They also have to limit food waste by 50%.

Cyprus has already managed to be included in a group of member states, which received a five-year extension in implementing the targets.

Lefteris Christoforou of the Democratic Rally and the Group of the European Peoples Party (Christian Democrats) said that Cyprus needs to put down all the facts and see how the proposals can work in favour of Cypriots, the environment and the economy.

He said he supports environmental initiatives provided the benefit is greater than the cost, adding that Cyprus is among the countries that received an extension.

“Once the improvement of waste management yields benefits to the environment, health, the economy and the climate and saves resources through the framework of European policy on circular economy, we believe that the proposals will work for the benefit of society provided they are used properly,” he said.

Christoforou also said the proposals that were voted concern the positions of the European Parliament while the Council still has to discuss the issue.

On his part, member of AKEL and the GUE/NGL European United Left/Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group, Neoklis Sylikiotis said there is no provision saying that the citizens will not be financially burdened in securing the new targets. He said that the government in Cyprus abandoned the overall planning to create complete infrastructure for waste management, therefore “there is … the risk of being fined for uncontrolled landfilling”.

Regarding recycling, Sylikiotis emphasised the effort to include Cyprus in the countries that received the five year extension. He said that according to wrong Eurostat data, Cyprus was shown to have achieved 22% of the recycling target in 2013, which meant it was not eligible for extension. However, there was a mistake in the calculation process and Cyprus had reached only 14% of its recycling target.

He said that in its recommendation, the European Parliaments Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) included an amendment which he had tabled as a shadow rapporteur which included Cyprus in the list of countries eligible for extension.

In this way, any danger of Cyprus requiring to pay a fine for not complying with the target to increase recycling is distanced.

AKEL and the GUE/NGL European United Left/Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group, member, Takis Hadzigeorgiou said circular economy is essential for the resource efficiency agenda, as defined under the “Europe 2020” strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

However, for the circular economy method to be adopted in Europe, two things are required, “scale and authority/legitimacy”. It refers to the differences in approach between Member States and notes that the answer relates to the scale. “While alone each state is powerless, the EU as an alliance, as a union of states is not,” he said.

Hadzigeorgiou also said the EU has to face the lack of democratic legitimacy and authority.

He referred to the need to have a mechanism from European authority structures that will protect the environment and fundamental rights of European citizens and workers against unbridled globalisation. Emphasis, he added, should be placed on the scale that will allow it to make this real.

The European prospects of a circular economy are ambitious and moving in the right direction, said Democratic Party and Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Costas Mavrides.

He also said that some states are already prepared for the implementation of the regulations, something that does not apply for Cyprus.

Unfortunately, he said, recent data on Cyprus are disappointing as the island is in the five member states with the worst rate of sending their municipal waste to landfills as well as the rate of recycling and composting.

However, he said that due to its size, Cyprus can gain multiple benefits for the environment, the people and the economy.

Transitioning to a circular economy model, Mavrides said, that places emphasis on reducing, reusing, repairing, recycling and recovery, will make the economy less dependent on imports, more viable and competitive.

This kind of planning, he said, can be financed through structural and investment funds, European strategic investment funds, the Horizon 2020 and COSME EE programmes and it is up to each government to utilize the available resources.

Demetris Papadakis of EDEK and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the EP, said that the new rules “are indeed in the right direction”, adding that all member states must implement complete waste management policies, adding that this sector should become a priority for Cyprus.

Asked if this implies additional costs for citizens, Papadakis said one should not forget that the EU environmental policy is based on the principle that whoever pollutes is fined, therefore “prevention is better than taking corrective measures”.

He also said that there should be extensive enlightenment on the issue of circular economy in Cyprus, adding that waste management should be a priority for Cyprus and not a necessity.

“I believe that Cyprus should further develop its waste management structures and should define long-term targets for measures and investments, adding that sufficient incentives should be given to prevention and waste recycling.

Leader of the Solidarity Movement and member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, Eleni Theocharous said that the implementation of environmental legislation is a serious challenge for Cyprus.

Cyprus low performance in waste management, recycling and high dependence on landfills, even at prohibited sites, is one of the EUs most fundamental concerns. There is no general framework policy for circular economy on the island, she said, stressing that Nicosia needs to harmonise and faithfully implement the new waste management proposals.

She described the package as reasonable and fair, adding that the transition to circular economy offers great opportunities for Europe and its citizens, including economic advantages.

The additional cost will arise if we do not implement the measures”, she said, and added that the cost will not only be economic but also a health issue and cited the benefits in strengthening competition, creating local jobs and opportunities for social inclusion.

Source: Cyprus News Agency