The Malta Independent 17 December 2018, Monday

TMID Editorial: New waste regulations - First comparable statistics show positive trend

Wednesday, 28 November 2018, 11:24 Last update: about 18 days ago

Government’s new recycling regulations seem to be having an effect, with more Maltese adhering to the regulations, and beginning to get used to separating waste.

This is not to say that all is perfect, as there are still some difficulties that need to be tackled. The distribution of the actual garbage containers, for example, was far from perfect, and this led to long queues reminiscent of darker times. This issue has yet to be completely solved, and should have been better handled right from the beginning.

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Bags taken out on the wrong day are also a common occurrence, and there have been times where some garbage taken out on the right day was not collected. The new waste separation measures are still in their infancy however, and one expected some teething problems at the beginning of this  large-scale national overhaul.

But the idea itself of separating waste and of recycling even more products is not only positive in terms of reaching Malta’s 2020 targets, but is all-round better for our environment. Leading by example will allow future generations to automatically recycle without a second thought, and will help in terms of the world’s natural resources.

Figures are looking positive. The Malta Independent yesterday reported that 9,594 tonnes of black bags were collected between November 1 and November 25 in 2017. This amount is higher than the same period in 2018, where 6,903 tonnes of black bag waste was collected, thus meaning that around 28% less black bags were collected.

This showed a significant drop in mixed waste, thus meaning more material was recycled.

In terms of the green/grey recycling bags, a 573 tonne increase was witnessed between the aforementioned periods, and in terms of the organic bag, during the November 2017 period 204 tonnes were collected. This was due to the pilot project already being in operation at that stage. During the same period in 2018, when the full organic bag collection scheme was in operation across the Maltese islands, 1,706 tonnes of organic waste bags were collected.

This means that less waste is being landfilled, and given Malta’s serious waste problem, and lack of space, recycling is definitely a necessity. In order to really solve the problem, however, more needs to be done, and government is working on a waste-to-energy plant.

Recycling however, is not the only way to deal with waste. Indeed the Environment and Resource Authority’s State of the Environment report 2018 reads that waste prevention is the highest stage of the waste hierarchy and is therefore the most environmentally friendly option as the absence of waste implies that no resources have been spent and no material needs to be managed.

Reducing waste means less resources being used up. Reducing waste is by far the best way to deal with the situation. Companies need to start working on cutting down excess packaging waste for example.

By doing so, we will not only guarantee resources for future generations, but also better protect the environment. One way to reduce plastic waste, for example, would be to cut down on plastic water bottle use, using re-usable bottles instead. However in order to do so a major shift in mentality and a major shift in how water is provided to the public would be needed,. Water filling stations would need to be placed in many locations, and government would need to improve the quality and taste of Malta’s tap water. As such, this idea would be hard to implement on a wide-scale.

The soon to be implemented bottle refund scheme is one other way to deal with plastic bottle waste, and one hopes it would be a success and show results.

 

This editorial was published in The Malta Independent printed edition.

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