Together with actors from another eight countries, Cyprus’ Environment Department has been acting as project coordinator of European project “BlueIslands” which aims to reduce waste production due to seasonal tourism.
Replying to CNA questions Environment Officer Athena Papanastasiou says the project seeks to meet “common challenges faced by Mediterranean islands and coastal areas.”
In particular, she notes, “the structural limitations faced by coastal areas on their natural resources and waste management, the fragmented knowledge on the seasonal variety of waste production and the lack of strategic plans to promote sustainable tourism.”
Asked about the participating countries, Papanastasiou says that Cyprus, Malta, Croatia, Sardinia, Sicily, Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos and Mallorca are taking part, as well as two financial organisations, two research institutes and an international organisation which specializes in communications and fund management.
The project which kicked off at the end of 2016 is expected to last three years.
In the project’s context sample collections have been made from beaches and coastal seawater in the eight regions during high and low tourist season.
The outcomes have been evaluated in a report which “showcases and analyses the problem of the seasonal variety in waste production,” she says. She adds that a multifaceted tool which includes “action plans and common guidelines for local and regional strategies aiming to effectively deal with the impact of seasonal variety in waste production.”
Although Cyprus has a lesser problem on sea waste compared to the other islands where samples were collected from, it still could benefit “from better management”, the Environment officer notes.
Τhe data base tool stresses the importance of the introduction an integrated and effective waste management plan in line with local regions’ characteristics.
It proposes “changing visitors` habits, raising awareness and developing environmental consciousness by providing the appropriate means and infrastructure to promote separate collection, recycling and reuse practices.”
It further recommends placing recycling bins for at least three waste streams of glass packaging, metal packaging and plastic packaging in the study areas in spots where they are not already present.
It proposes that bins for all recyclable materials should be installed at the hotel units and suggests an appropriate source separation biowaste program for the hotel units, in order for these quantities to be collected and processed separately.
It also recommends that ashtrays are placed in public areas such as beaches and outside restaurants, bars, public buildings.