MPs on Wednesday highlighted the years of blunders over waste management which led to an EU early warning report saying Cyprus would fail to meet targets by 2025.
The report issued back in June said that Cyprus risks missing targets of 55 per cent for recycling municipal waste and recycling 65 per cent of packaging waste by 2025.
Speaking following a meeting of the House environment committee, Greens MP and committee head Charalambos Theopemptou said that the state needs to allocate the human resources it needs to “at least so that we are not so tragically outside of our goals and the jobs that have to be done”.
Theopemptou reiterated that the European Union asked Cyprus as early as 2004 to create a waste management strategy.
“There was poor management for 10-15 years, then the ministry of the interior abandoned the plans and transferred the responsibility to the environment department, which for the last 4-5 years has been trying to find a solution to all these problems that have arisen,” he said.
He added that, as a consequence, the targets set for 2025 are currently not being met and will have to be postponed for some years.
Commenting on recycling targets, Theopemptou said that there is a large gap in meeting them, as the committee was informed that over 1,000 companies that should have been registered with GreenDot, the main recycling provider, have failed to do so.
Problems also exist in the matter of reusing materials.
“We at the moment, if we take the sofa to the green points, they grind it and they throw it away.”
By extension, the goal of channelling 55 per cent of waste into recycling and reuse will not be achieved by 2025, as Theopemptou said.
Disy MP Prodromos Alambritis said that in addition to the goal of reusing and recycling plastic waste, the goal of reducing landfill waste in 2035 is not being achieved either.
“We passed legislation some time ago in the parliament, we passed the ‘pay as you throw’ legislation, we are waiting for the plans of the environment department and the government for the implementation of the goals,” he said.
He also mentioned that the committee had previously visited the waste treatment plants in Pentakomo and Koshi, noting that criminal acts are committed in these areas.
He added that the environment minister is expected to inform parliament about these issues soon.
Answering a question about the closure of the landfill in Kotsiatis, the MP said that “we closed Kotsiatis and created a new Kotsiatis” adding that Koshi is operating beyond its capabilities.
“We are burying over 70,000 tonnes directly, without any sorting or management,” he said.
Dipa MP Michalis Yiakoumi stated that Cyprus has taken actions in relation to the recommendations of the EU report and that these actions have started to be implemented and are expected to produce results soon. However, he expressed concern about several issues included in the report.
Among these are the implementation of timeframes for the actions, the costs to households, especially in the middle of a period of increased inflation, but also the practical implementation by the public.
In their report back in June, the European Commission also alluded to possibly questionable data, saying the island must produce “consistent and verifiable” data sets.
The report provided an update on how member states are performing against the 2035 target to send no more than 10 per cent of their municipal waste to landfill, another target Cyprus is at risk of missing.
The assessment underpinning the early warning report identified 18 member states at risk of missing the 2025 targets for recycling municipal waste, and 10 of which are also at risk of missing the 2025 recycling target for all packaging waste.
In Cyprus, it said that in 2019, municipal waste generation of 648kg per person was well above the EU average of 502kg per person, “which might be due to the high touristic activity”, the report said. On the other hand, packaging waste generated in 2019 was about half the EU average of 92kg per person.
“This seemingly low figure may indicate that significant quantities of packaging placed on the market, which is used for the amount of generated packaging waste, are not reported,” it added.
In addition, a significant share of generated municipal waste remains unaccounted for in terms of treatment at 17 per cent in 2019.