The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Governing the policy and strategy on waste

Aaron Farrugia Sunday, 28 June 2020, 07:03 Last update: about 16 days ago

Government has set out a serious roadmap to tackle Malta’s waste management and we intend to deliver this in the coming years.

And yet a number of misconceptions and groundless assumptions about our plan to address, once for all, the issue of waste management in Malta, are making the rounds.

It would expect the Opposition to, at the very least, start contributing with concrete proposals and by encouraging the Maltese people to continue improve their efforts in waste separation.

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Our ambitious ECOHIVE project will revolutionize the way we manage waste, and contribute towards Malta’s national compliance with EU targets with respect to recycling and landfill reduction.

Contrary to what some would have us believe; this project will not consist of waste incineration but of advanced waste treatment technologies that will transform how waste is managed by putting it into good use, instead of burying it in the ground as was done by administration after another.

This project will ensure that the different waste streams are processed and treated in a way that complements the waste separation and recycling efforts that the general public embraced so rigorously in past years.

The waste-to-energy plant is part of the solution of turning waste into resources. It will stand next to other three new waste processing plants consisting of a Material Recovery Facility with a considered maximum capacity of receiving, separating, and processing around 70,000 tonnes of paper, cardboard, tin and plastic; a new organic material treatment facility with a maximum capacity of treating 110,000 tonnes of organic waste per year; and a new modern clinical waste incinerator replacing the one in Marsa.

All recovered recycled material will be sold back to the industry to be transformed into other products as part of the circular economy while organic waste will be transformed into high quality agricultural grade compost whilst also producing precious gases and electricity.  Other wastes that cannot be recycled will be sent to the waste-to-energy plant that will generate enough electricity for all of Gozo and Mellieħa. Aside from electricity, the waste-to-energy plant will also drastically reduce the volume of waste that goes into the landfill and thus, reducing the need to take up further precious agricultural land in the future as was being done until recently.

Following two years of very detailed planning and comprehensive studies, the area of Magħtab has been chosen as the most suitable site for such a project for a number of reasons.  Besides the existing services in the area, including a water treatment facility and suitable power grid infrastructure, consolidating all the infrastructure into one area will increase efficiency as the four plants will rely on common output streams. Locating the plants sporadically across the island as is being proposed would result in unnecessary land uptake due to the ancillary infrastructure required to operate the facilities individually. Another benefit of having all plants located in one area is zero traffic. An internal road network within the Maghtab site will be built to ensure efficient operations so no vehicles would need to leave the premises to transfer waste from one facility to another. By far, this is the most cost-effective and environmental friendly option, especially when compared to a complicated network of underground tunnels cutting across the island as has been suggested.

The project is backed by detailed environmental studies that are soon to be completed and published. These cover air quality, with laborious air dispersion assessments and models and marine ecology studies, amongst other studies to make sure there is no negative environmental impact on the residents and surrounding areas.

As part of the new Waste Management Plan that will be launched by end 2020, we also plan to extend waste separation to commercial entities, and very soon a new campaign to encourage waste separation in all government entities will also be launched with the distribution of free waste separation bins.

It is clear that we have not only put in place a well thought-out strategy to address the waste problem in Malta, but are also committed to the largest ever investment in waste management that will turn waste into resources, and set an example for other countries to follow.

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