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Waste management is not so complicated, says Cyprus’ Environment Commissioner

May 9, 2019 at 8:25am

Cyprus` Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou sent Wednesday the message that waste management “is not so complicated”, provided there are the right political decisions, will and coordination between the state, local authorities, businesses and citizens.

Addressing a Workshop on ” Present and Future of Waste Management in Cyprus” organized by the Technical Chamber of Cyprus, the Commissioner said that introducing a `pay as you throw` system was the basic principle for the implementation of local programs. She added that the use of relevant technologies and the existence of processing and disposal facilities, were also important to the whole system.

“There is a need to support the local Authorities with vehicles and equipment as well as to fund “Green Points” and sorting facilities, in order to initiate substantive source-sorting programs in each local authority or cluster”, she said, adding that “this new philosophy should become a way of life at the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the city we live in”.

Panagiotou noted that until now, growth has been based on an economic model of intensive use of available and imported resources without taking into account the long-term effects.

“The change proposed by the Cyclical Economy approach is based on maximizing the performance of existing resources and reducing losses in use. It is therefore expected, as a basic requirement for success, to learn how to count waste as resources and to leave nothing untapped, ” she said.

She went on to say that a shift from the “supply, production, consumption and rejection” model to a model based on “reuse, repair, refurbish and recycle” was needed.

“The role of local administration in this great effort is important and multidimensional. The management and recycling systems should not, in my view, have horizontal application but should be tailored to local specificities and needs, “the Commissioner said.

Referring to data, she said that annual urban waste production in Cyprus was significantly higher than the EU average in 2017 (637kg per inhabitant in relation to 487 kg per inhabitant). After a few years` decline, the volume began to increase from 2014 onwards.

In Cyprus, she added, there was a decrease in landfill and a slight increase in recycling and composting. However, 76% of waste ends up in landfills compared to 24% which is the EU average. At the same time only 16% of the waste is recycled, including a 2% of composting. The respective EU average is 46%.

Despite a steady decline in 2009-2014, the landfill rate has risen again in 2016.

Panayiotou pointed out that Cyprus should make a significant investment in recycling and sorting in the coming years, in order to reach the 2020 target and to increase by 50% of the recycling rate.

“The truth of the numbers is there, describing the problem and the challenge,” she noted.

She added the EU has set targets, has created financial tools and at the same time guides the realization of objectives through the implementation of concrete measures.

Panayiotou said that, first and foremost, there should be practices and policies that will reduce solid waste through sustainable consumption. As a second step, she said that sorting at the source and promoting local recycling and composting programs was the most economical, environmentally and socially friendly option.

(Cyprus News Agency)