Cir­cu­lar econ­omy: Bot­tom of the pit in waste man­age­ment

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Cyprus has ranked last among EU mem­ber states in re­gard to waste man­age­ment and dis­posal. Politico.eu took a close at how coun­tries are pro­gress­ing to­ward the EU’s goals of mak­ing economies re­use and re­cy­cle more while cut­ting down on waste, with Cyprus be­ing a lag­gard.

Politico used data re­leased by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in Jan­uary to get a sense of how well coun­tries and the EU are do­ing in reach­ing the goal of a ‘cir­cu­lar econ­omy’, one in which al­most noth­ing is wasted. As, Politico.eu writes, in a cir­cu­lar econ­omy, prod­ucts last as long as pos­si­ble, and when they need to be scrapped they are re­cy­cled and the ma­te­ri­als reused.

Th­ese in­clude how much garbage and food waste is be­ing pro­duced, how much of that waste is re­cy­cled, and how much of that re­cy­cled ma­te­rial is ac­tu­ally reused. They also in­clude the vol­ume of re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als traded, how many patents are filed hav­ing to do with the cir­cu­lar econ­omy, and how many jobs are cre­ated in “cir­cu­lar econ­omy sec­tors”.

Politico re­searched the data for seven of the Com­mis­sion’s key met­rics and ranked each of the Euro­pean Union’s 28 coun­tries, with Cyprus rank­ing at the bot­tom of the list in each met­ric. The coun­try came last but one as far as waste pro­duced per year on a mu­nic­i­pal level with 640 kg amount­ing to each res­i­dent. Per­form­ing a bit bet­ter as far as food waste is con­cerned, Cyprus is ninth from the bot­tom, above Greece and Ro­ma­nia.

The coun­try is also per­form­ing poorly when it comes to re­cy­cling. With the is­land’s mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ex­hibit­ing a re­cy­cling rate of just 17%, Cyprus is last but two in the list. Ger­many is the leader with a mu­nic­i­pal re­cy­cling rate of 66%. Sim­i­larly, we are in the fourth place from bot­tom in the share of goods traded which are made from re­cy­cled ma­te­rial and the ma­te­rial re­use rate with just 3%. The Netherlands leads the list of ma­te­rial re­use with a rate of 27%.

More wor­ry­ing is that Cyprus is lag­ging in in­vest­ments made in the cir­cu­lar econ­omy with just EUR 0.1 mln a year, while the is­land has seen the reg­is­tra­tion of a mere four patents re­lated to the cir­cu­lar econ­omy since 2000.

Com­ment­ing on Politico’s re­veal­ing re­port, Char­alam­pos Theopemp­tou, mem­ber of par­lia­ment for the Greens, said that this comes as no sur­prise. The for­mer Com­mis­sioner for the En­vi­ron­ment told the Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror that “while the EU has been putting for­ward poli­cies pro­mot­ing the cir­cu­lar econ­omy for years now, Cyprus is not keep­ing up”.

Theopemp­tou said that Cyprus is lag­ging both in leg­is­la­tion and in im­ple­ment­ing the ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion. “While coun­tries in Europe have made re­cy­cling com­pul­sory by fin­ing cit­i­zens who do not re­cy­cle, not only does Cyprus not do that, but many ar­eas are not cov­ered by the re­cy­cling col­lec­tion scheme,” he said.

Fur­ther­more, Theopemp­tou said that Europe is try­ing to pro­mote and im­ple­ment cir­cu­lar econ­omy poli­cies which will also cre­ate a se­ries of jobs. Giv­ing an ex­am­ple, the Greens’ MP re­ferred to the fact that a num­ber of EU mem­ber-states have im­ple­mented a sep­a­rate col­lec­tion of food waste which is re­cy­cled and reused. “This cre­ates a num­ber of jobs. First you need peo­ple to col­lect the food waste, then you need peo­ple work­ing at pas­teuri­sa­tion units where it will be pro­cessed, with the waste then be­ing trans­ferred to a unit where peo­ple will be work­ing to cre­ate bio­gas through anaer­o­bic di­ges­tion. What waste re­mains can be made into com­post,” ex­plained Theopemp­tou. He stressed that a zero-waste pol­icy is a win-win sit­u­a­tion as green poli­cies are im­ple­mented and the econ­omy grows in a sus­tain­able man­ner.

How­ever, in Cyprus, while there are 13 units which can pro­duce bio­gas, there is no way of trans­port­ing the food waste to them.

“The gov­ern­ment has set up two units which have the task of pro­cess­ing food waste, but they have not set up a sys­tem of col­lec­tion” he said. Even when food waste reaches th­ese units it is mixed with other waste, mak­ing the sep­a­ra­tion dif­fi­cult, while much of the food waste is pol­luted with in some case toxic waste, such as clean­ing prod­ucts.

“The sep­a­ra­tion of food waste must be done at the source. The state needs to in­form peo­ple on how to sep­a­rate food waste” he added, in­di­cat­ing that there is a lot of work needed to be done by the state on prop­erly in­form­ing peo­ple about re­cy­cling and reusing.

Theopemp­tou said that the lack of a re­cy­cling and reusing cul­ture has to be ad­dressed by the state. Giv­ing an ex­am­ple of sim­ple things that could be done, he said that there are no ‘green spots’ in Cyprus. “Green spots in Europe, are places where peo­ple take things that they do not need any­more, but are re­us­able. For ex­am­ple, old fur­ni­ture or clothes. In coun­tries in cen­tral Europe, most of the stu­dent apart­ments are fur­nished with sec­ond hand fur­ni­ture and ap­pli­ances,” he said.

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