The Union of Cyprus Municipalities said on Tuesday it was terminating collective negotiations with recycling non-profit organisation Green Dot Cyprus, leaving it up to individual municipalities to continue – or not – talks to extend their contract with the company.
In a statement, the union said its decision to withdraw from collective negotiations was due to “serious differences between municipalities and the company.”
The decision was taken a day earlier during a meeting of the union’s executive committee, attended among others by Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos and Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides.
The meeting was held amid allegations – spearheaded by Phedonos – that Green Dot has been overcharging municipalities in the collection and recycling of packaging waste, in breach of the terms of its license.
The allegations have since prompted a probe into Green Dot’s accounts by the auditor-general.
Green Dot’s contract with the municipalities expired in July 2015, with the company since engaged in talks to renew the contract.
But in the meantime Paralimni municipality has ended its collaboration with Green Dot, citing irregularities, and on similar grounds Paphos municipality has refused to pay its dues accumulated over a year.
The Union of Municipalities said individual municipalities were now free to negotiate one-on-one with Green Dot – previously the agreements had been reached collectively – or else to break off their collaboration and find alternative ways of collecting recyclable waste.
However the union also urged its members to base “any future decisions or actions on the findings of the auditor-general, which we expect.”
On Tuesday, a team from the auditor-general’s office visited Green Dot’s offices to gather evidence and documentation.
This reportedly included information which initially Green Dot was reluctant to provide, and concerned entertainment and travelling expenses.
In a statement last month, the auditor-general’s office said that Green Dot received a state subsidy to the tune of €1.3m from 2009 to 2011 to carry out an information campaign for the expansion of its programme to the Larnaca, Famagusta and Paphos districts, but failed to present full details of its expenditure.
According to Politis, during Monday’s meeting the mayors and the auditor-general spotted a number of unfair terms in Green Dot’s contracts with the municipalities. The terms appeared to contravene the relevant legislation as well as the terms of the company’s licence.
Specifically, the daily reported, one clause provides that part of the expenses for collecting plastic waste must be covered by each of the municipalities.
But under the law, it is the companies themselves – companies producing bottled water and packaged refreshments – which pay Green Dot for collecting the packages they manufacture. However, during Monday’s session it was reported that Green Dot charges the municipalities for collecting plastics and other recyclable materials.
Another contract clause under scrutiny relates to Green Dot’s obligation – per its license – to recover 70 per cent of recyclable materials in the country. However, it emerged that packaging companies are paying Green Dot for 100 per cent of the recyclable materials which they sell.
This indicated that Green Dot is being paid by the municipalities to recover 70 per cent of recyclable materials, and by businesses to recover 100 per cent of these materials.
Moreover, Politis reports that checks of Green Dot’s books have revealed potential discrepancies between the quantities of recyclable materials that should have been collected and the quantities actually collected.