Local authorities should start preparing to meet their 2024 obligations on waste management, including organic waste collection, which might be the “most difficult task”, Green party leader Charalambos Theopemptou has said.

Cyprus is already far behind in waste management, which will make municipalities’ effort to implement the new changes on municipal waste management legislation even more difficult, the party leader said in an announcement.

However, those changes are crucial in achieving the EU minimum recycling targets.

“The targets set by the EU are very high, as we should achieve 55 per cent recycling by weight of waste by 2025 and 60 per cent by 2030.

“We need to speed up the preparations of local authorities, inform citizens, solve the problems of apartment buildings, prepare recycling companies for the new workload, expand collective systems and so much more…”

The two bills, which were passed after several meetings of the environment committee in 2022, concern changes on the waste law such as increased recycling targets and a regulation on municipal waste management which details the new obligations of local authorities.

Under the new pieces of legislation, local authorities are obliged by June 2024 to prepare a local action plan for municipal waste management and, for the first time, actions to prevent the generation of waste within their administrative boundaries.

The action plan should promote separate waste collection, cooperate with collective schemes such as Green Dot for packaging, AFIS for batteries, and for the recycling for electrical appliances.

It should be based on the “Pay as You throw” system and take into account different types of waste. These include biodegradable kitchen and restaurant waste or biodegradable waste from gardens and parks, paper, glass, plastics, metal, wooden and synthetic packaging, textile products, electrical equipment and household-type batteries as well as bulky waste.

The action plan must first go through Public Consultation and the final document must be submitted for approval to the Department of Environment in December 2023.

Once approved then it will be implemented in June 2024, one month after the municipal elections, Theopemptou said.

Also, local authorities will have to collect organic waste separately from January 1, 2024.

“This may be the most difficult task because the appropriate bin for residents to have will have to be determined to avoid smells and cats and to find the recipient of the organic waste,” the party leader noted.

He explained that this is an extremely big problem for the mountainous areas and Paphos province where there is no infrastructure nearby that can receive the organic waste that residents separate.

“My own concern is that we are already in March 2023 and no substantial work and information has yet been done to the Local Authorities to prepare the plans with the help of experts.

“We should also find ways to build organic plants in Paphos and mountainous areas and change the subsidy for electricity production from these plants which is now really unprofitable,” he said.