With more visitors heading to Cyprus than ever, the Mediterranean island’s waste disposal system is under pressure, despite efforts to cut landfill use and encourage recycling, waste management and tourism, experts say. Panicos Michael, manager of the five-star Alion Beach Hotel in Ayia Napa, said the rising number of visitors raised major issues. “I think that this will be a big challenge for the island in general to cope with the increased amount of waste that’s going to be produced,” he said.
Cyprus — seen as a regional safe spot shielded from the unrest that has hit other popular Mediterranean destinations — hosted a record 3.2 million visitors last year and looks set to top that by eight percent in 2017, official figures show. In response, authorities and tourism executives are backing efforts to separate waste and send as much as possible away from landfill sites and towards recycling. Cyprus landfilled some 79 percent of its municipal waste in 2013, according to the latest figure available on Eurostat, far above the European Union average of just 28 percent.
Tourism and waste management experts say waste output per person in Cyprus is heavily inflated by tourist arrivals. Kyriakos Parpounas of Green Dot, a waste management firm that deals with the vast majority of recycling in Cyprus, said tourists’ waste output was equivalent to adding 300,000 permanent residents to the country’s 866,000 population.
Cyprus has much improved its waste management since 2005, when Green Dot was founded in response to a new European Union law demanding better sorting and recycling, he said. Green Dot has run a series of school and media campaigns encouraging Cypriots to “reduce, re-use and recycle”. But the country still only recycles 19 percent of its waste, far lower than the European average of 44 percent.
This is an excerpt from an article first published on Prothom Alo.