Environment Commissioner Ioanna Panayiotou has told CNA that Cyprus should take the next step in plastics reduction.
In an interview with Cyprus News Agency and replying to questions following her office placing under its aegis an initiative by Ayios Spyridonas Special school in Larnaka to ban plastic straws in Cyprus Panayiotou refers to EU targets on plastics reduction, as well as the effect it would have on the island’s image if it became a pioneer within the EU in this field.
Asked whether she considers it possible for Cyprus to become the first EU member state to ban plastic straws Panayiout said that “this is the aim”. She added however that she could not say whether it would be achieved “because legislation has to be passed and public awareness needs to be raised.”
She reiterated however that “certainly this will continue to be the goal.”
The Environment Commissioner further said that that there are many actions implemented by various actors in Cyprus, particularly by NGOs through EU programmes and other organisations abroad.
The plastics issue is current, she said, precisely because Cyprus is an island, because the sea is around us and the problem is more evident in the oceans and the seas.
Asked whether this goal could be one put forward by the state officially, as was announced in Britain, Panayiotou said that Cyprus follows EU directives. There is an ongoing discussion at EU level, targets have already been set for reducing the use of specific objects across a timeframe.
She recalled that European legislation has already achieved a significant reduction in the use of the single use plastic bag in quite a few member states. “New plans now turn to other single use plastic products and fishing products,” she added.
As an EU member state, Cyprus must take part and implement its targets, she noted.
“We are obligated to take the next step, aiming to reduce the use of plastic in order to protect the environment,” she stressed.
Asked whether Cyprus could become a pioneer in reducing single use plastic products she replied positively, adding however that until now no official decisions to that effect have been made.
Replying to a question on how a full ban of plastic straws would affect Cyprus’ image, the Environment Commissioner noted that it would help the island’s image greatly.
Precisely because Cyprus is an island and small country it could become a pioneer in environmental and tourism matters, she noted.
She gave the examples of promoting local products, organic farming and the reduction of plastics.
Social, environmental and economic benefits would be multiple, Panayiotou added.
According to WWF, she said, plastics make up 95% of the rubbish located in the Mediterranean Sea and its shores. Turkey and Spain rand first in plastics pollution, followed by Italy, Egypt, France and Greece, she noted.