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Launching the pay-as-you-throw scheme in Aglantzia , Source: Aglantzia Municipality on Facebook

Cypriot Parliament activates pay-as-you-throw scheme

Cypriot Parliament activates pay-as-you-throw scheme

The passage of the bill will allow the island to tap into the lucrative EU’s Cohesion Fund

The Cypriot Parliament has passed an amendment to the Waste Law which allows the implementation of the ‘Pay-as-you-throw’ scheme on a nationwide scale. The system is designed to reduce waste generation and promote recycling by incentivising households to throw out less and thus lower their costs.

Key element of the ‘European Green Deal’

There are further bills to be approved for the system to be put in motion which could take months, as no deadline has been set and currently MPs are preoccupied with debate on the budget.

Pay-as-you-throw is a key element of the ‘European Green Deal’, a set of EC policy initiatives aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Debating the bill prior to Thursday’s vote, MPs noted that its passage will allow Cyprus to tap into the lucrative EU’s Cohesion Fund. Greens remarked that the amended Waste Law paves the way for recycling policies that are long overdue.

How the system works

The bill introduces the term ‘municipal waste’; defines the responsibility of municipal authorities in waste management; and specifies fines for offenses.

The annual rubbish collection fee will be scrapped. Currently, each household pays such a fee regardless of how much rubbish they generate and whether the residence is inhabited or not.

Instead, households will be obliged to purchase designated purple rubbish bags distributed by the municipality. These bags will be much more expensive than the conventional ones available at the local shop.

And it is here where the incentive kicks in, as, to buy fewer rubbish bags, consumers will need to sort their discarded household items and drop them off at designated collection points. The more they recycle, the lower their overall cost will be.

Stumbling blocks

Commenting on the pay-as-you-throw system, Green Party leader Charalambos Theopemptou told the Cyprus Mail that there are issues that need to be ironed out, with apartment buildings perhaps the biggest stumbling block.

If one of the 20 plus residents puts recyclables and other rubbish in the same bag, who then, will be fined? How will the offender be identified in the first place, he asked.

All eyes on Aglantzia municipality

One Cypriot municipality has been separately running the pay-as-you-throw system since January 2020. Aglantzia (Aglandjia), a suburb of Nicosia, now attracts nationwide attention, as its performance can help the smooth implementation of the scheme elsewhere. 

Rubbish bags in Aglantzia cost EUR 2 each. The municipality has reported a substantial reduction in waste volumes, but has encountered significant difficulties. The key issue has been that of food waste, as the law does not prohibit placing it in the same bag as recyclable goods. This might become a big problem for the rest of the island, as there is an ongoing scuffle as to who should be responsible for food waste, Theopemptou warned.

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