ON average every Cypriot uses a minimum of 125 plastic bags per year, Dr Maria Dodou, head of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development, said yesterday during an event to mark World Environment Day.
With the slogan: “We say no to plastic bags”, the institute organised an awareness event in Nicosia to inform members of the public about the impact of plastic bags on the environment.
“Plastic bags are harmful to the environment, human health and the economy,” Dodou said. She said the fact they were still free in most supermarkets led to their continued uncontrolled use, ending up in landfills where they are burned, and release dangerous fumes harmful to people’s health.
She added that Cyprus was being called on to come up with ways to resolve the problem and reduce the number of 125 bags per person per year down to 90 by 2018 under and to 40 by 2024 under EU regulations.
Around 90 per cent of these lightweight bags are often used only once, a study had found.
According to estimates more than 98 billion plastic bags circulate in the European market each year, while in the past 25 years, 10 per cent of all animals found dead around the world were tangled in plastic bags.
“We urge members of the public to at least use the bags multiple times, and if necessary use biodegradable ones, since it takes 500 years for a bag to decompose,” Dodou said.
During the event, members of the institute distributed multi-purpose bags to members of the public and urged them to use the bags for shopping.
In its message to mark World Environment Day, the Green Party urged the government to implement “a truly environmental policy which will protect the environment, promote sustainability and create new jobs”.
“Today green growth is a focal issue of the economic policies of all national governments, including the EU. In our country though there is an absence of a structured, coherent and ambitious green growth framework,” the party said.
It added that the party had proposed several actions like investments in the renewable energy field, a turn to sustainable transportation, better management and protection of natural resources, and better waste management.
Meanwhile, the University of Nicosia launched its year-long environmental awareness campaign called “Recycling-Everyone’s Obligation”, based on the winning proposal of a think tank competition on obligatory recycling.
As part of the actions that will be organised during the campaign is the training of the university’s students, faculty and administrative staff on recycling, training members of the public on the right use of recycling bins and a ‘zero-waste’ competition between the university’s dorms.
Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou also handed over her annual report to President Nicos Anastasiades yesterday.