Recycling programme overwhelmed by its own success

By Noah Haglund

ANYONE passing by one of the newly installed recycling stations around the island is likely to have suffered serious dismay at seeing heaps of paper, cans, bottles and other recyclable materials overflowing from the bins and apparently neglected.

This was my feeling exactly when, while strolling through the Nicosia suburb of Ayios Dhometios, I tripped over a heap of newspapers strewn across the pavement in front of the bins at the junction of Ayios Pavlos Avenue and Demokratias Street.

Recycling has particular importance in Cyprus, a country producing 500 kilos of trash per capita a year, more than any one else in Europe.

The government’s pilot programme, ‘Co-operation for Recycling’, is attempting to combat this problem with nine recycling ‘islands’, four of them in Ayios Dhometios and one each at Latsia, outside Nicosia, Limassol, the Limassol suburb of Mesa Yeitonia and at Polis Chrysochou.

Ayios Dhometios, one of the five municipalities selected for the pilot programme, by its own admission has had trouble keeping up with public zeal and is trying to find ways to pick up the pace.

According to Demetris Kliftis, a recycling officer for the Ayios Dhometios municipality, in the beginning, people were just dumping the materials outside the bins, rather than inside.

But the municipality has just hired an employee whose job will be to make sure the materials end up in the bins and will pay a private company to collect the materials twice at week, he says.

The next step is for the municipality to educate the public, which they intend to do by issuing leaflets to local residents on how to recycle materials, something they have already done this at schools.

At present, five different materials can be recycled: plastic, paper, aluminium, coloured and clear glass.

The municipality sells the materials to recyclers by weight. Aluminium fetches the highest price, as it is the most cost effective material to recycle, while recycling the others has not yet proved profitable.

According to the recycling officer, the EU is not yet subsidising the programme, and the municipality is running at a loss. The programme costs Ayios Dhometios about £10,000 a year to run.

He says the municipality would like to get the Cabinet to pass a law so the state would subside the other materials, but this proposal is still only in drawing board phase.

At a national level, the sticking point similarly has to do with financing the programme, said Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis, the technical manager of the ‘Co- operation for Recycling’ programme, who works with the government’s Environmental Service,.

He told the Cyprus Mail that, “we are enthusiastic, the public is enthusiastic, and our partners are enthusiastic. The problem is who will finance the project.”

Hadjiyiannis clarified that by “partners”, he was referring to the myriad of players that had to co-operate in order to get recycling programmes off the ground, such as various government ministries, local industry and the Recyclers Association of Cyprus, to name a few.

“This is a pilot programme,” he said. “This means we have to investigate many different aspects of recycling to see how to make it work.”

He listed some of these aspects of the programme as the economic factors, geography, logistics, transporting materials abroad when they cannot be recycled locally and convincing businesses to invest in the industry of recycling.

Agriculture Minister Themistocleous said earlier this year that the eventual aim was to make recycling a commercially viable sector of the economy.

The director of the Agriculture Ministry’s Environment Service, Nicos Georgiades, announced earlier this year that Cyprus would have to recycle 30 per cent of its packaging waste by 2002, and 65 per cent of such waste by 2005. The EU also defined lower targets for other types of rubbish, such as organic waste and paper.


Ayios Dhometios, Nicosia

Primary School A – Kyriacos Matsis Avenue
Primary School B – Kentavrou Street

Primary School C – Junction of Pentelikou and Promitheos Streets

Ayios Dhometios Gymnasium – Junction of Ayios Pavlos Avenue and Demokratias Street.

Latsia, Nicosia

Primary School and Gymnasium C – October 28th Street
Mesa Yeitonia, Limassol

Kalogeropoulou Gymnasium – Junction of Marcos Drakos and Mykinon Streets

Tsirion Gymnasium – Thespios Street, Ayia Phyla
Polis Chrysochou

Marion Avenue