Spray-can briefing

A research briefing on spray cans used during the carnival in Cyprus

Every year, massive quantities of waste are discarded in the streets during the carnival festivities, culminating on the day of the big carnival parade, with 5km of mess along the central Makarios III avenue. Most of the waste is recyclable, such as empty silly-string spray cans, aluminum cans, single-use plastic bottles and glass bottles. At the moment, there is no waste reduction or recycling scheme during the Limassol carnival.

In February and March 2019, Friends of the Earth Cyprus ran a campaign to help prevent waste and encourage proper management during the Limassol Carnival. Using Zero Waste principles, Friends of the Earth prepared a flyer with tips for a more eco-friendly parade which was circulated online and in print. The campaign climaxed with an operation to collect recyclable materials after the parade. The initiative was supported by the Limassol Municipality and Green Dot, the recycling operator for Limassol City. 23 volunteers took part in the operation by covering a distance of 2.5 kilometres in 4 hours. With the use of an electronic scale, the weight of recyclable materials collected was estimated at nearly 3 tonnes. This was approximately 10-20% of the total recyclable waste generated on that day, which means that up to 27 tonnes of recyclables were left in the streets to be collected by the street sweeper trucks of the municipality, without separate collection and recovery for recycling.

Amongst these recyclable materials, the vast majority was found to be single-use carnival party spray cans (silly string and foam). At an event that attracts around 140,000 people as spectators and participants (carnivalists) –not counting the childrens’ parade and the parade at Aglantzia, Nicosia which take place the previous Sunday every year– the numbers are detrimental to the environment and human health. Friends of the Earth Cyprus collected a small sample of the most popular spray cans used during the carnival and conducted a research that is presented in this briefing.

Based on the labels of the spray cans and the research described above, the following is concluded:

  1. All four spray cans are marked “Keep away from children”.

  2. All four spray cans may burst if heated.

  3. At least three spray cans may cause irritation of the respiratory tract.

  4. At least two spray cans may cause skin irritation and eye irritation.

  5. One spray can is flammable (it bears the flame symbol and the marking “ONLY FOR PROFESSIONAL USE”). This means that it must not be marketed for sale to the wider public and must not be used by non-professionals, in accordance with the EU REACH Regulation.

  6. All spray cans are considered hazardous waste if they are not completely empty and must be disposed of correctly.

  7. All spray cans contribute to poor air quality, and more particularly, high levels of particulate matter concentration (PM10) that can have adverse effects on human health.

  8. At least 50% by weight of all sprays must be collected by the businesses placing them on the market through the recycling operators in accordance with the Packaging and Packaging Waste Law.


Read the full research with our demands here: Spray Briefing 2023 (V2)