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Paying by Volume for Waste Spikes Cyprus’ Recycling Rate Fast

Αssociated Press

People sit and drink, outside a coffee shop, on Ledras street, in the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

NICOSIA -- Changing from a flat annual rate for rubbish pickup on Cyprus to paying for how much is tossed in a household has seen almost everyone in an initial program switching to recycling.

The so-called pay-as-you-throw system in Aglandjia that started as a pilot study in March 2020 and was fully implemented in January has shown that people will recycle if they have to pay for what isn’t, The Cyprus Mail said.

“There is a 99.5 percent compliance,” Haris Tsangarides, Municipal Secretary of the Nicosia suburb told the paper after evaluating the results for the first quarter of the year.

The scheme will go nationwide later this year but has seen waste overall in the neighborhood cut overall by 41 percent. “Compared to the first quarter of 2020, there has been 850 tons less waste … annually this means a person produces 259 kilos, 55 percent less than the average in Cyprus which is 570 kilos,” he said.

At the same time, recycling has gone up by 27 percent in the first two months although there is worry that some will turn to unlawful dumping to avoid paying or recycling their household waste.

This hasn’t been seen yet but there are reports that some people are taking their garbage to to neighbouring municipalities to be collected where they are not charged instead of recycling it at their homes.

“This was only a slight increase of one ton per week, 12 tons in 12 weeks, out of 850 tonnes,” he said.

Elena Stylianopoulou, who is responsible for the project at the country’s Environment Department said municipalities will be given the opportunity – and 25 million euros ($29.76 million) from European Union structural funds to carry out their own studies and submit them to the ministry for approval.

“This is the first stage, we will give them time to design a programme, some may need a few months, and some are ready,” she said, asked about reports saying the system will be running six months after the legislation is passed.

“Much of it is still under discussion, but we will try to give them money for three or four years to figure out what works best,” she also added.

“We allow for flexibility, but mainly we will go for the prepaid bag system, as studies show this is the most cost-effective and the best incentive for residents which is the main thrust. Those who opt for another system will really have to justify why,” she said.