By Maria Gregoriou
STROVOLOS municipality has scrapped a service which cleared away rubbish dumped on empty plots of land while other municipalities have scaled back the number of times of year they will do so.
The Strovolos move is an attempt to improve the local environment and to follow a law passed in 2011.
Under the new regime, Strovolos residents have been asked to take their recyclable rubbish to a temporary ‘green zone’, near the Strovolos industrial area, or call a private recycling company to collect any unwanted objects.
“This new policy was set in motion on Monday and residents were informed of the changes during the middle of August,” said Strovolos municipality environmental health officer, George Tsiakkas.
Municipality employees are monitoring the 120 areas where dumping was most common to stop the practice and explain the new procedures to residents.
Under the new system, garden waste put in bags and placed outside homes will be collected every two weeks, while paper and plastic items will be collected once a week.
“Residents have been informed of these collections and told that they must be put in special plastic bags for recycling,” Tsiakkas said.
The change has nothing to do with the economic crisis, but is geared at changing people’s mentality, he said.
“The municipality used to collect piles of rubbish nearly every month and plots could be clean one day and full of waste again the next day,” he said.
“This new programme will push residents to respect the environment for hygienic and safety reasons. When there is less rubbish piled up on empty plots, there will be fewer mice and bacteria,” Tsiakkas said.
Residents can also call the municipality to pick-up unwanted items for a charge of €10.
Elsewhere, Latsia municipality has decreased its collection of garden rubbish and other large items dumped on empty plots from six times a year to two. One collection is carried out just before Christmas and one before Easter.
“It used to cost the municipality €120,000 to administer collections six times a year. We had to cut down on collections due to financial reasons but this does not mean that the rubbish has decreased,” Latsia municipality health inspector Antonis Gabriel said.
Residents were asked in a letter sent out in May to stop dumping other items in open spaces. The letter explained how each type of item should be dealt with. For example, electrical appliances can be taken back to the seller for recycling.
Engomi municipality still empties plots five times a year.
Dumping in residential areas is against the law liable with a fine of up to €4,000.
The government in the meanwhile is in the process of earmarking vacant plots of land as ‘green zones’ for the public to dump their unwanted items. A total of 38 green zones will be set up all over Cyprus by 2015.
“The public will be able to take their hard-to-dispose-of rubbish to these zones. Used car oil, unwanted furniture or broken toilets for example,” said Meropi Samara Miliotou, an official at the environmental department of the ministry of agriculture.
“There will be signs indicating the location of the zones, which will be fenced off. Someone will be there to take the unwanted rubbish and help the public carry them into the area.”
For more information about the new recycling programme at Strovolos municipality visit http://www.strovolos.org.cy/greendot/index.shtm