By end-2024, two thirds of population will use "Pay as you throw"

By the end of 2024, 67% of the population of Cyprus – or 2/3 – will be using the "Pay as you throw" system for their municipal waste, based on figures and deadlines by the Department of Environment.

The system comes into effect from 1 July, with the first group of six municipalities, which corresponds to 30% of the population, set to complete their assessments in March to calculate the price of the plastic bag for households and apartment buildings, the prices for waste bins and the fixed amount the citizens will be charged.

Eleni Constantinidou, senior official at the Department of Environment, told the Cyprus News Agency that these six municipalities are: Municipality of Latsia, Municipality of Lakatamia, Complex A of Nicosia (St. Varvara), Municipality of South Nicosia, Municipality of Aradippou, Municipality of Larnaca, Municipality of East Limassol and Municipality of Polemidia.

She added that in June 2024, studies are expected to be completed for the municipalities of Nicosia, West Limassol and Limassol, which correspond to 37% of the population.

Another nine clusters representing 21.5% of the population are expected to complete the final consultation by September 2024 and another 11.15% will enter the final consultation in November 2024.

Constantinidou explained that after the end of the study/final consultation, a leeway of approximately six months is given for the implementation of the system.

Based on the presentation of a study made for the Municipality of Aradippou and the preliminary data collected, there is an estimate for a fee of six cents per litre on the bags, that is, a 10L bag will cost 60 cents, a 35L bag €2 and a 56L bag €3.33.

It is noted that not all municipalities have provided data based on their studies. Moreover, it is clarified that the fixed fee that the Department of Environment and the Ministry of Finance will arrive at, will include the cleaning fee as well.

It should be noted that until June 30, 2024, local government authorities should implement a system of mandatory sorting at source and separate collection of recyclables (paper, glass, plastic, metals), wooden and synthetic packaging, textile products, waste electrical and electronic equipment, batteries and bulky waste.

By material, the targets for plastic are 50% recycling by 2025 and 55% by 2030, for wood 25% to 30%, for ferrous metals 70% to 80%, for aluminium 50% to 60%, for glass 70% to 75% and for paper/board 75% to 85%.

Based on figures from the Department of the Environment for 2021, the per capita waste generation was 633 kg and packaging waste recycling amounted to 65% while organic waste (green garden waste) used for compost production was 1.2%.

The total percentage of recycling and reuse (recyclable materials and organic waste) was at 15.3%. Municipal waste that ended up in landfills was 62%.

House Environment Committee raises concerns

In a recent debate held at the House Environment Committee where an update was given by the Department of the Environment on the course of implementation of the PAYT programme, there were concerns about the level of the fixed amount for households.

Committee President Charalambos Theopemptou told the Cyprus News Agency that opinions were also expressed regarding the filing of amending legislation to establish a fixed amount and he expressed the belief that if this amendment is filed, it is most likely that it will not be voted by the Plenary.

He expressed his view that if our obligations, based on European directives, are not fulfilled, it is certain that there will be sanctions for Cyprus.

He explained that the amendment of the EU directive took place in 2018 and provides, among other things, for recycling and management of organic waste.

This presupposes that every house must have a waste bin installed and these must end up in compost or in units for the creation of biogas for energy production.

So far there are more than ten anaerobic production units, especially in livestock units, where this gas, through special treatment, produces electricity.

Theopemptou explained that when the directive was amended, a consultation was held with the former Minister of Agriculture and proposals were submitted for the creation of other such units.

He mentioned that Paphos district has a bigger issue as no unit is based there. He said that in the mountainous areas the suggestion was for a unit in the area of Linou-Flasos but automatic composters were installed instead. According to the chair of the Committee, this was not the proper solution.

He explained that biogas is the only renewable source of energy that you can secure whenever you want and you don't depend on either the sun (photovoltaics) or the wind (wind farms).

He also expressed his concerns about the sorting system in apartment complexes and how it will be practically implemented. He explained that there are various methods, used abroad, of placing waste in a bin without a special bag and simply placing a special sticker on each bag for its contents.

In relation to the introduction of a fixed amount, Theopemptou explained that in the amendment of the legislation there is a provision for a fixed amount, the amount of which has not been determined, "but it must certainly be small, around 30 euros."

He also stated that the MPs expect procedures to speed up so that all municipalities and communities are ready for the introduction of the new system on time.

Based on the 2018 amendment to the directive, new targets are set for municipal waste recycling and by 2025, at least 55% of municipal waste by weight should be recycled. This target will increase to 60% by 2030 and 65% by 2035.

Member States must establish, by 1 January 2025, the separate collection of textile products and hazardous waste produced by households. Moreover, by 31 December 2023 they we supposed to ensure that bio-waste is collected separately or recycled at source (for example, by composting).

The directive also presents examples of incentives to implement waste prioritisation, such as landfill and incineration charges and pay-as-you-throw schemes.

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