And companies need to do more about packaging

By Charalampos Theopemptou

Among the business world, I often hear the discussions and worries about the new Environment, Sustainability, Governance (ESG) criteria that are now being pushed through by the EU, which will result in significant changes in reporting.

We have made progress since joining the EU but with regards to the environment, unfortunately there are actions that companies and especially the government should have done long time ago but have yet to take.

What follows is just a simple set of questions that Cyprus-based production factories that really care about the environment should ask themselves.

Product packaging

Waste management is perhaps the biggest environmental problem in Cyprus.

A responsible company should always pay attention to its contribution to domestic waste.

The questions that must be asked are: a) can I have packaging that is compostable and b) can it at least be recycled? Please pay attention here, because sometimes the packaging is recyclable, but the type of stickers on them make them difficult to recycle.

A good example is plastic water bottles. At the beginning they had paper all around with the details of the make etc. That made the bottles difficult to recycle so they changed to plastic wrapping.

A visit to a recycling plant can easily convince anyone that many local products use non-recyclable packaging.

Own waste management

Environmental law, but also good practice, dictate that when you pay somebody to take your waste, you should also check where this was taken. Did it end up in the middle of nowhere? Is it polluting a river? Is it dangerous to wildlife?

This is one of the biggest problems we face nowadays in Cyprus. Liquid and solid waste, dangerous waste, construction and demolition waste, old electrical appliances can be found all over the island.

EU law dictates that waste management should be traceable. That means that the transporter signs a paper that it received the waste from the company, and he should bring back proof of where the waste was delivered.

Material source

A huge issue among environmental groups is material sourcing. It is well known that in order to produce palm oil, vast areas of tropical forests are destroyed to plant palm trees for oil production.

The internet is full of information and campaigns against major manufacturers who used palm oil.

I, and many others, never buy anything that contains palm oil. So it is important for Cyprus-based manufacturers to be aware of this since I have seen locally made products which use palm oil.

The wood from trees that are cut down in tropical forests either for palm oil production or farming, cannot be used in products because of the FLEGT Regulation, the voluntary licensing scheme for timber imports and products in the European Union.

Another important issue relating to material sourcing is that of the use of recycled material e.g. in product packaging. Companies should be aware that following the European directives with regards to plastics, our Waste Law–185/2011, contains important dates in 2025 and 2030 for the use of 25 per cent and 30 per cent of recycled plastics.

Charalampos Theopemptou, MP and leader of the Cyprus Green party