Waste management and recycling in Cyprus
When we moved to Cyprus, in 1997, we were disappointed that there was no recycling facility, but most impressed that the dustmen came three times per week, and would take almost anything we left out in the street, in black sacks. They would even take garden rubbish. Neighbours explained that rubbish collection had to be frequent, otherwise rats would get in the rubbish.
Eventually we discovered limited paper recycling in the Dhekelia army base, which was fine if someone was going there anyway. There were also a few containers for empty drink cans – but since we never buy canned or fizzy drinks, those were no use to us. And gradually, over the years, we got used to throwing away old paperwork and glass bottles. We even started using more plastic carrier bags – given away free by the supermarkets – rather than risk the slightly puzzled stares we received when using our own cloth bags.
Then, in 2010 we learned that recycling was being introduced around the island in accord with the European directives to ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’. Metro supermarket introduced rather expensive re-usable bags (we didn’t buy any) and recyclable carrier bags which sounded like a good idea in theory, but unfortunately were so flimsy that we needed twice as many. Still, it was a start.
In the Autumn we had a brochure through the door telling us that glass recycling domes were being introduced in several places, and that two streams of recycling would be collected from outside homes, every week. We were even given two free bags to get us started. One was for paper and cardboard, the other for the ‘PMD’ stream: plastic bottles, metal containers and cans, and drink containers of the Tetrapak kind.
The dustmen still come three times per week, but our household waste has reduced significantly. If only we had somewhere to make a compost heap, there would be almost nothing left to throw out. But at least fruit and vegetable parings are bio-degradable.