Cyprus Mail

Call for clean up volunteers

Last year's Let's Do it Cyprus event

By Constantinos Psillides

CYPRUS is leading Europe in generating solid waste that is dumped in landfills, according to Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou, who pointed out that each Cypriot generates two kilos of waste daily.

Following a press conference for the “Let’s clean Cyprus in a day” campaign on April 26, Panayiotou stated that both the public and the state must do more to tackle the problem.

“I call upon the state, local authorities, NGOs, all the stakeholders and the public to take part in the campaign, so we can clean Cyprus up and keep it that way,” she said on Monday, adding that it is of paramount importance that many volunteers join the event, “so our message for a clean Cyprus is heard clear around the world.”

The campaign is organised by the “Let’s do it Cyprus” NGO, which is part of the “Let’s do it World” movement. The movement that started in Estonia asks people to join a series of local and national clean-up events.

Volunteerism commissioner Yiannis Yiannaki stated that his office fully supports the campaign, noting that the event has a positive effect on society and especially the young.

He called on everyone to participate, asking them to break the 10,000 volunteers record set last year at a similar event.

Let’s do it Cyprus campaign coordinator Loukia Hadjimatheou said that on the day of the clean-up event skips will be located in designated areas and that all waste will be taken to the Kosi solid waste management plant with no extra charge at the gate.

Hadjimatheou added that a recycling unit will also be operational and that volunteers can ride a bus to the cleaning areas at a 50 per cent discount.

According to the most recent Eurostat figures, Cyprus came fourth in solid municipal waste production in 2013 with 624 kg per capita, trailing Luxemburg (653 kg per capita), Switzerland (702kg) and Denmark with 747 kg.

But while all the countries ahead of Cyprus have a high treatment percentage (Denmark treats all but 12kg by recycling, incineration and composting) Cyprus dumps almost all its waste in landfills. Eurostat reports that Cyprus dumps almost 80 per cent of solid municipal waste (491 kg) in landfills.

The EU has issued a number of warnings to Cypriot authorities, calling them to adhere to EU regulations and increase the treatment level of municipal waste. The EU demanded that Vati and Kotsiatis – the two landfills – are closed down and that Cyprus constructs all necessary infrastructure in order to decrease waste production and increase treatment.

Panayiotou told the Cyprus Mail that the Cyprus has repeatedly been warned that if the state doesn’t show progress in dealing with the problem, the island could be slapped with a €11,000 fine per day of non compliance.

The commissioner noted that the interior ministry has already moved ahead with tenders for additional waste management plant construction.

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