Cyprus Mail

Bill on plastic bags was rushed through without enough debate, Theopemptou says

No thorough discussion has taken place on the bill on plastic bags, which provides for a charge of 5 cents beginning in July because the government tabled it at the 11th hour and the House rushed to pass it, Cyprus Greens MP Charalambos Theopemptou said on Tuesday.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency Theopemptou said the public has not understood that the massive use of plastic is connected with health problems, environmental destruction and much more.
“We have been, for many years, aware of all these problems, but unfortunately we have not done anything at all to try to reverse the situation,” he said.

“Other countries have long ago introduced measures to reduce the use of plastic bags, Ireland for example has been charging for plastic bags since 2002, many African countries and some Latin American countries have banned plastic bags. Even China from which we import plastic bags has since 2008 completely banned plastic bags. However, besides the plastic bags, we use other plastic materials in our everyday lives, such as plastic bottles, caps and even laundry and washing powders,’’ he added.

He said the discussion in parliament had not been detailed and exhaustive.

“Beginning July 1t 2018, consumers will pay a charge of 5 cents for plastic bags, the money is profit for the supermarkets. The bill on plastic bags as well as other bills, to which the government had feared that there would be negative reaction, were tabled with a delay. And when this particular one was sent to the House, we were under the threat and pressure of penalties from the EU. Therefore, we did not have time to discuss it thoroughly. The finance ministry did not attend the meeting at the parliament, we were not ready to find solutions, so were rushed to vote on it,’’ he said.

Theopemptou said that after the country’s accession to the EU in May 2004, the ministry of the interior, without having the know-how, took over the responsibility for household waste.

He said the adoption of waste reduction policies, despite coming first in the hierarchy of waste management policies, was contrary to the fact that the state did not manage to get enough waste in Koshi and Pentakomo landfills and therefore Cyprus would be faced with fines and penalties.
According to Theopemptou, not enough measures have been taken as regards the reuse of materials in order to reduce the waste produced, and the recycle process did get a push because the private companies had a legal obligation to do so.

He said some policies already adopted were wrong and the decision-making process slow.  However, his experience tells him that the public is eager to receive information and details on environmental issues.
“We should have promoted simple and easy policies that have to do with raising awareness and educating people. Recycling should have been mandatory and ‘pay as you throw’ system should have been adopted by the local authorities,” he said.

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