In the dock over EU 2020 re­cy­cling tar­gets

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - CYPRUS - By Kyr­i­akos Kil­iaris

Cyprus has been warned by the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion that it is fail­ing the EU’s 2020 re­cy­cling tar­gets for mu­nic­i­pal waste, with ex­perts blam­ing 20 years of in­ef­fec­tive state poli­cies.

While the re­cy­cling tar­get set for EU mem­bers states for mu­nic­i­pal waste for 2020 is set to 50%, ac­cord­ing to Euro­stat data for 2016, Cyprus’ mu­nic­i­pal waste re­cy­cling rate was 17% while the land­fill­ing rate was 75%.

The tar­get for 2020 is for 50% of mu­nic­i­pal waste to be re­cy­cled, ris­ing to 65% by 2035, while the per­cent­age of mu­nic­i­pal waste find­ing its way to land­fills should drop to 10%. The amount of rub­bish head­ing to land­fills has dropped in the EU as a whole, stand­ing at 24%.

Cyprus joins Malta, Ro­ma­nia and Greece as one of only four EU mem­ber states to have re­cy­cled un­der 20% of their to­tal mu­nic­i­pal waste, while ex­perts ar­gue that fail­ure to meet EU 2020 is more than a cer­tainty, and “meet­ing the EU 2035 goal seems like a long­shot”.

It is also fail­ing in its re­cy­cling goals re­gard­ing con­struc­tion and de­mo­li­tion, and waste from elec­tri­cal and elec­tronic equip­ment.

The 2020 tar­get for the con­struc­tion sec­tor is for 70% to be re­cy­cled, with over half of EU states re­port­ing they al­ready do. Cyprus how­ever, re­ported that less than 60% was re­cy­cled for the pe­riod 2013-15.

As far as elec­tri­cal and elec­tronic equip­ment waste is con­cerned, the EU had set a tar­get in 2015 to col­lect a min­i­mum of 4kg of waste per per­son, a tar­get which ac­cord­ing to Brus­sels, Cyprus missed by a “con­sid­er­able mar­gin”. Coun­tries such as Den­mark and Swe­den col­lected as much as 12kg of waste per per­son.

The Com­mis­sion in its early warn­ing re­port for Cyprus con­cluded that the is­land’s con­tin­ued dif­fi­cul­ties in im­ple­ment­ing EU waste laws are mainly due to the lack of in­fras­truc­ture and col­lec­tion sys­tems for re­cy­clables and mon­i­tor­ing of the pro­ce­dure.

It also pointed out that there is a lack of in­cen­tives to pre­vent the cre­ation of waste in the first place, and to im­prove re­cy­cling.

Ex­perts at­tribute the lack of in­fras­truc­ture and fail­ure of mon­i­tor­ing col­lec­tion sys­tems for re­cy­clables, to the fact that Cypriot gov­ern­ments over the past two decades pre­ferred to fol­low a road dif­fer­ent to what the EU reg­u­la­tions and in­struc­tions had paved.




Char­alam­bos Theopemp­tou told the Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror that Cyprus’ fail­ure to com­ply with EU tar­gets stems from the per­sis­tence of gov­ern­ments for 20 years to ig­nore EU in­struc­tions and form their own pol­icy on waste man­age­ment.

“It is in­dica­tive that from 2011, un­til very re­cently the re­spon­si­bil­ity of form­ing a pol­icy to man­age re­cy­clable waste was with the min­istry of In­te­rior,” said Theopemp­tou.

“Whereas EU in­struc­tions state clearly that the mem­ber states should form a pol­icy which will pro­mote the sep­a­ra­tion of waste and re­cy­clables at the source, that is the house­hold or busi­ness, gov­ern­ments thought that it would be best to pur­sue a pol­icy which would see the sep­a­ra­tion of waste at waste pro­cess­ing fac­tory units,” he added.

He ex­plained that the EU pol­icy is based on the idea that the best waste sep­a­ra­tion takes place at the source by the con­sumer.

“As a re­sult of this pol­icy, peo­ple in ar­eas who have their re­cy­clables trans­ferred to the fac­to­ries in Koshi in Lar­naca and Pen­takomo in the Li­mas­sol re­gion do not know how to sep­a­rate their waste and send ev­ery­thing off to the units. What hap­pens is that these fac­to­ries at the end of the day are not able to use much of the ma­te­ri­als,” the MP said.

He ex­plained that or­ganic waste which is sep­a­rated at the units is then sent to or­ganic waste pro­cess­ing unit run by Vas­si­liko Ce­ments, which is not able to process the waste as it is of low qual­ity.

Theopemp­tou also said that the pol­icy fol­lowed by the ad­min­is­tra­tions of the past and the cur­rent one, is also un­der­min­ing any ef­forts made in the direc­tion of com­ply­ing with EU di­rec­tives.

He said that ac­cord­ing to EC di­rec­tive 98/2008, which was adopted by Cypriot Law, com­pa­nies who put plas­tic pack­ag­ing into the mar­ket, have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to col­lect and re­cy­cle them or as­sign that re­spon­si­bil­ity to an­other en­tity. “That is how Green Dot came into be­ing. Com­pa­nies putting plas­tic pack­ages into the mar­ket came to­gether and formed the com­pany and gave it the re­spon­si­bil­ity to col­lect and re­cy­cle plas­tic pack­ages.”

Pri­vate in­vestors of the re­cy­cling units in Koshi and Pen­takomo, are col­lect­ing plas­tic pack­ages and sell­ing the end prod­uct, leav­ing Green Dot with­out re­sources to be able to func­tion as it would want to.

“Green Dot is also lag­ging be­hind when it comes to cam­paigns to raise pub­lic aware­ness. One of the rea­son for this is the lack of re­sources,” said Theopemp­tou.

He added that the gov­ern­ment should also be chas­ing af­ter com­pa­nies who have not joined the Green Dot ven­ture.

Green Dot’s Gen­eral Man­ager, Mar­ios Vrahimis, con­firmed that a large num­ber of com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing prod­ucts in plas­tic pack­ages to the mar­ket are not com­ply­ing with their le­gal obli­ga­tion to con­trib­ute to the col­lec­tion and re­cy­cling of plas­tic pack­ag­ing.

Vrahimis said that tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the amount of plas­tic pack­ag­ing supplied to the mar­ket by Green Dot mem­ber-com­pa­nies, it is col­lect­ing al­most 90% of that plas­tic pack­ag­ing.

“While the to­tal amount of plas­tic pack­ages supplied to the mar­ket by our com­pa­nies amounts to about 66,000 tonnes, we col­lect and re­cy­cle around 60,000 tonnes ev­ery year. Un­for­tu­nately, we cal­cu­late that a to­tal of 100,000 tonnes of plas­tic pack­ag­ing finds its way to the mar­ket, which brings our suc­cess rate down”.

Green Dot’s man­ager sug­gests that the gov­ern­ment forces com­pa­nies not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ven­ture to join, by iden­ti­fy­ing the com­pa­nies who im­port plas­tic pack­ag­ing through the ports.

Theopemp­tou said that the same obli­ga­tion ap­plies com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing the mar­ket with prod­ucts in pa­per pack­ag­ing or other pa­per-based prod­ucts news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines.

“Un­for­tu­nately, these com­pa­nies have yet to con­form. The gov­ern­ment should be chas­ing af­ter these com­pa­nies to force them to fol­low the foot­steps of Green Dot and form a com­pany to col­lect and man­age pa­per waste from their prod­ucts”.

The num­ber one obli­ga­tion de­riv­ing from EU di­rec­tives is for mem­ber states to take mea­sures to pre­vent the cre­ation of waste.

Theopemp­tou, a former En­vi­ron­ment Com­mis­sioner, ar­gued that a na­tional pol­icy was drawn up in 2008 but has never been im­ple­mented.

“EU Di­rec­tives are also clear that mem­ber states need to pro­mote the reusing of plas­tic prod­ucts. We have done noth­ing on this as a coun­try,” he said.

“The game is lost! There is no way for us to meet our EU 2020 tar­gets. I doubt if we will be able to meet most of 2030 tar­gets!”



Asked on what can be done, Theopemp­tou said that dras­tic mea­sures need to be taken, such as pro­mot­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of waste at the source and fines to house­holds and busi­ness who do not com­ply.

Cur­rent En­vi­ron­ment Com­mis­sioner, Ioanna Panayiotou, told the Fi­nan­cial Mir­ror that the state, through the com­pe­tent Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment, has drawn up a roadmap for the coun­try to meet its EU 2020 re­cy­cling tar­gets.

How­ever, she said there is still a long way ahead and po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions for dras­tic mea­sures are re­quired.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the state has not been able to act de­ci­sively over the past decades. We hope now that the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment has taken over the man­age­ment of house waste, it will take the de­ci­sive mea­sures needed for Cyprus to meet its goals,” Panayiotou said.

She added that the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion in its warn­ing re­port has sug­gested a se­ries of mea­sures that Cyprus needs to take.

“The state needs to sup­port the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in their task with the devel­op­ment of a sys­tem at a na­tional level that pro­vides tech­ni­cal sup­port, cou­pled with ac­tive shar­ing of good ideas and prac­tices that can im­prove ef­fi­ciency in terms of cost re­duc­tion and im­prove­ment in per­for­mance”.

Brus­sels has un­der­lined the im­por­tance of in­volv­ing the pub­lic in the process with fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives and penal­ties for those who do not com­ply, such as the “pay as you throw scheme”, ap­plied in a num­ber of EU coun­tries.

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