The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Construction waste - Industry has to sort out its own mess

Monday, 9 September 2019, 10:01 Last update: about 2 months ago

Malta’s booming construction sector is in again facing a huge challenge for the reason that there are not many spots where to place the massive volumes of waste it is creating.

In the words of MDA boss Sandro Chetcuti, the country is facing a new “crisis” in this regard, and the situation is “alarming.”

Chectuci has called on the government to take a decision on land reclamation but has also urged the industry to step up recycling of construction waste, which is pretty much non-existent.

ADVERTISEMENT

One of the stories carried by our sister paper on Sunday said that the land reclamation policy, which was presented to cabinet more than four months ago, is still in draft form. This was confirmed by the government, when an FOI request was refused on the basis that draft documents cannot be released to the press.

Now we are not urging the government to speed up the process and green light the dumping of construction waste into the sea. We have always said that land reclamation will, besides changing the map of Malta, likely result in massive and irreversible environmental damage.

We prefer the recycling option. A government official said this week that most construction waste can actually be recycled and used in ongoing projects, like road construction.

But while the government has a duty to draft policies and regulations, we believe that the construction sector has created this problem and, as such, it has to find a solution. The industry, which has ravaged the country and turned it into a concrete jungle, has to sort out its own mess. Developers and contractors cannot keep building, and then build some more, and expect the government to find a magic solution to the problems they create.

The lucrative industry surely has the means to introduce recycling streams, which can in themselves be a business opportunity.

Unfortunately, it seems that many in the sector would prefer to make an even quicker buck and dump their stone and concrete loads into quarries.

The problem is that only one quarry is receiving waste from contractors. Effectively, there is a monopoly in this sector and, as a result, prices have shot up. The high dumping fees coupled with the lack of space have already led to illegal dumping in the countryside, we are informed.

Several quarries are owned by the big construction companies and only accept material coming from their own projects. The problem is that space will eventually run out for them too.

Environment Minister Jose Herrera has repeatedly warned that, should a solution not be found, the government will requisition a number of quarries to create more dumping space.

He also said that, in a situation where all quarries are opened to the market, there would be enough space to last 20 years.

But the construction sector will find that time flies, and there will come a time when we end up in this same situation again.

A long-term solution, vision and strategy are needed. What we are doing now is simply trying to win more time. But time will one day run out.

 

  • don't miss