Although waste management has undoubtedly improved over the past decade, Cyprus still recycles only 19% of its trash, far behind the EU average, which is 44%. How can local stakeholders and tourism establishments solve the issue?
In full sun, on a crowded beach in the resort of Ayia Napa in Cyprus, tourists throw cans in recycling bins. The Mediterranean island receives more visitors than ever and this tourist influx has put under pressure: it must develop recycling. Cyprus, considered a safe destination compared to other countries in the region, recorded 3.18 million tourist arrivals in 2016, a figure expected to increase 8% this year. For experts in tourism and the environment it is largely the tourist boom that generated the increase of waste.
It is “a great challenge for the island,” admits Panicos Michael, a five stars hotel manager at Alion Beach. In 2013, 79% of municipal waste Cyprus ended at the landfill – the last figure available on Eurostat – a rate well above the EU average which was then 28%. The Cypriot authorities with the support of the tourism industry have put certain efforts to reduce the proportion of waste ending in landfills. Michael introduced waste sorting in his hotel in 2003 and ensures that he has halved its waste volume per customer since then. The town of Ayia Napa wants to go further and plans to launch by spring 2018 collection of organic waste in hotels. The local authorities have also installed recycling bins in places popular with tourists. “This is a very good idea because the garbage is a worldwide problem,” said Helen Mikhaylenko Russian, a 23 years old Russian tourist in sunglasses and black bikini. “People drink lots of beer and they should sort out” their cans, she said.
Green Dot safeguarding the recycling rate and driving forward the trend
Kyriakos Parpounas of Green Dot, which manages about half the waste recycling in Cyprus, home to 866,000 permanent residents. Created in 2005 in response to an EU law requiring better sorting, Green Dot has conducted a series of educational and media campaigns encouraging Cypriots to “reduce, reuse and recycle”. Located in a drab industrial area just outside Nicosia, the Cypriot capital, Green Dot processes about 12 tons of waste per day.
A man dives into a waste container which are then transported by conveyor belt in a warehouse. Near the conveyor belt, fifteen handlers sort by hand, separating plastic bottles, cans and cartons. According to the manager of the factory, Andreas Andreou, about one fifth of waste arriving should actually be sent to landfill as non-recyclable items. The day before, the corpse of a dog even appeared on the treadmill. “We started from zero, there was no infrastructure or culture sorting”, justifies Mr. Parpounas, before one of the two Green Dot plants was built.
At the time of its establishment, Green Dot had presented a list of ten demands to the government. Twelve years later, seven have not been met, he said. The organization has especially called for the establishment of a fee system proportionate to the volume or weight of waste, promote recycling, and the creation of a landfill tax. “We are late in behavior and recycling habits but also because the appropriate infrastructure (recycling) are not in place,” says the director of the Department of Environment, Costas Hadjipanayiotou.
Philippos Drousiotis, the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative”, says the hotels as their customers have welcomed the efforts to limit the use of plastic bottles. Near a beach in Ayia Napa, the Russian Kate Tsurkanova expressed satisfaction now be able to sort out on the beach. “This is perfect. Besides, I just start doing it at home, in Russia,” said the tourist from Moscow. “I wish there was more garbage like that everywhere.”
Source: L’Orient LeJour
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