At the moment, only 30 to 40 per cent of Cypriots actively recycle, while the purpose of the proposed fines is to increase environmental awareness in Cyprus. The proposals would see warnings and fines being issued against those who do not participate in the recycling programme.
The enforcement of the law is considered a necessary measure by Cypriots themselves, who according to recently published research, said they will only recycle if it is imposed by law. Sixty to seventy per cent have no idea on how to recycle or even worse, do not really care.
The cost to dispose of household garbage is mostly unknown and leaves people with the impression it is a free service. The result: there is no incentive to recycle or to reduce waste. The proposals are currently being trialled by providing those taking part with a tax deduction incentive for recycling.
The “pay as you throw” programme has been implemented in other parts of the world and means the citizen is not taxed for what he chooses to recycle but only for what ends up in landfills. In communities with pay-as-you-throw programs, residents are charged for the collection of municipal solid waste – ordinary household rubbish – based on the amount they throw away.
Cyprus and Malta are the countries at the bottom of the European recycling list. Belgium comes first in citizens involved in recycling, at an astonishing rate of 90 per cent. According Parpounas, Cyprus’ rank in the list is not only a result of lack of environmental education, but also the size and geographic nature of our country. “It’s one thing to recycle in a country where with a truck or a train the recyclables are transported to the nearest country that has factories and it’s another to recycle in an isolated island where whatever you do it is disproportionately expensive. Therefore it is no coincidence that Malta and Cyprus are last”.
Although the environmental progress on the matter may be relatively slow, there has been progress. In Strovolos, where the recycling programme started in February 2007, collection has grown five fold. In 2007 the collection was limited to 20 tonnes of paper, 20 tonnes of pmd (plastic, metal, cartons) and 10 per cent glass. Today, just in Strovolos 250 tonnes of recyclables are collected every month, of which 100 tonnes are pmd and 80 are paper. Last year, a total of 8,000 tons of recyclables were collected and this year it is expected to increase to 15,000 tonnes.
Since the beginning of this month, 55 per cent of the population will have the chance to recycle through the Green Dot programme, following an expansion of collection from peoples’ homes to the areas of Nicosia, Ayios Dometios, Lakatamia, Engomi, Latsia and Aglandjia.
The municipalities of Limassol, Ayios Athanasios, Mesa Yitonia, Kato Polemidia, Yermasogeia and the communities of Ayios Tychonas, Moutagiaka and Ypsonas are already taking part in the programme. The next expansion should take place before May 2009 and will cover Paphos and Famagusta, while by the end of 2009 it is expected to cover the whole of Cyprus.
By Marianna Pissa, Cyprus Mail, October 5, 2008|