A new, European philosophy is being followed in waste management in Cyprus. The Department of Environment is paving the way forward with a new municipal solid waste management plan and a national waste prevention programme it said.
Drafted by the ministry of agriculture, natural resources and environment on the basis of the 2011 legislation on waste the two strategies are included in draft regulations drawn up after a public consultation last month.
The goal is for Cyprus to have comprehensive and sound management of waste and to adopt measures aimed at decoupling the link between economic growth and environmental impact to do with generating waste.
In statements to Cyprus News Agency an environment the department senior official, Chrystalla Stylianou, said a plan on how to handle municipal waste had been prepared in the past but had to be reviewed and revised in the context of the economic crisis and the latest EU directives.
The legislation, she said, is based mainly on the “framework of promoting the circular economy; namely that the waste should be regarded as a resource and not as something useless to be thrown away.”
The new regulations “provide for the first time a legal obligation to local authorities to implement separate collection for four waste streams; metal, plastic, paper and glass.”
This, she said, means that local authorities should inform the public and find ways to implement the legislation.
There are funding options through European grants that can be used to support local authorities and to enhance infrastructure where necessary, she said.
Stylianou gave as an examples the need to create infrastructure for the production of bio-gas, or composting organic waste.
Stylianou said there were currently 60 licences for premises and approximately 200 licences for companies who collect, transport and trade in waste. Also around 900 inspections on the facilities takes place every year. There are seven inspectors.
“We respond to complaints and grievances, which are submitted to the department on a daily basis with checks, visits and inspections,” she said.
Last year, she added, total fines for pollution and waste management came to €70,000. If a fine is not paid then the case is referred to the Attorney-general for further action.
Asked whether she has seen a difference in recent years in people`s attitude on recycling, Stylianou said she had.
“Telephone calls and letters received by citizens and various actors asking what they should do with their waste have increased, something which was not the case previously”, she said.
Official data shows that in 2011 the total percentage of recycling of paper, plastic, metal and glass was 26 per cent. Cyprus has to reach a goal of 50 per cent by 2020.
Despite recording a steady increase, only 30 per cent of paper waste is recycled. Plastic recycling levels are even lower at a mere 11 per cent.
In 2009 approximately 589 tons of waste was produced in Cyprus. In 2010 it was 577, some 579 in 2011 and 572 in 2012.
Waste per capita was 730kg in 2009. In 2010 it was 697 kg and in 2011 around 683 kg. By 2012 it had fallen to 663 kg per resident.
In 2012 Cyprus ranked 3rd in Europe after Switzerland and Denmark in the production of municipal waste. It ranked 2nd in the EU28. In 2010 Cyprus ranked first in the production of municipal waste. (CNA)