By Andria Kades
Introducing ‘pay as you throw’ schemes in Cyprus would prompt more people to recycle, according to Green Dot manager Kyriakos Parpounas.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) he said it was necessary to introduce such measures to make people think twice. According to Parpounas people need incentives, such as tax cuts for those who manage their waste. “This means that those who handle their waste correctly (they recycle, reduce or compost) will have an immediate financial benefit while those that don’t and simply throw away their rubbish, will have immediate financial repercussions,” Parpounas added.
Although Green Dot, a recycling company, still aims for 100 per cent recycling in Cyprus, it is has far exceeded its expectations in the island as almost 55 per cent of homes are involved in different types of recycling. This, according to Parpounas, would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
Between 2007 and 2014, approximately 300,000 tonnes of waste– the equivalent of 332 Olympic sized swimming pools – have been recycled. This has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000 tonnes, Parpounas stipulated.
“This is how much space we have saved in our landfills. By recycling these materials we have avoided carbon dioxide emissions amounting to 250,000 tonnes. Moreover with more work that is done each year we are able to avoid another 145,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually. It`s like we have 380,000 less vehicles in our streets”, Parpounas said.
“In an attempt to create a change in society, like the environmental shift we are after, it is important to use different tools that lead people to new attitudes. Cultures do not change easily only with wishful thinking and providing information.”
He has hailed the importance of cooperating with local authorities and schools that have reaped positive and effective results, raising a generation of children that are conscious of the environment around them.
At this stage, Parpounas said although people might not be familiar with the details, they know recycling is important and some feel guilty when they do not engage.
No matter how many measures and ideas they may have though, Parpounas holds the government accountable for not pushing anything forward despite discussions for the past 10 years. Calling out the public service, he argues they should be an example to look up to. However government staff do not even recycle, he said.
Nevertheless he is pleased that even though there are no incentives to recycle, nor is it compulsory like in another EU countries, there has been a huge response from many people in Cyprus. “This involvement is effortless as it is a result of only awareness and interest,” he said.
“The responses under the circumstances are particularly pleasing.”
He notes that rubbish is not the only thing that can be recycled. Electronic devices and household type batteries are also very important as they contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment. About 6,500 tonnes and 175 tonnes respectively have been recycled since 2009.
Despite EU funding for recycling only about 20 to 30 per cent of the waste facilities are completed Parpounas said. They were all meant to be finished by 2006.