The Malta Independent 2 August 2021, Monday

NGOs put forward recommendations on waste management plan

Tuesday, 2 February 2021, 13:22 Last update: about 7 months ago

Friends of the Earth Malta and Moviment Graffitti have submitted joint recommendation on the ‘Long term Waste Management Plan (2021-2030) in the Maltese Islands’ as part of government’s consultation process.

The two NGOs have particularly been insisting on the importance of waste reduction as the first and foremost measure to manage Malta’s waste and are demanding that this new Waste Management Plan puts its emphasis on reducing waste generation, as per EU Waste Hierarchy.

The NGOs said they acknowledge that a number of proposed measures go in the right direction to improve Malta’s waste management and make it more sustainable. However, certain points and measures in the document do need to be addressed more coherently, considering the urgency of the matter.

Though it is ambitious in nature, the main concern is that this plan may not suffice. Indeed, as mentioned in the document, past plans have not managed to deliver their promises, and nothing guarantees that this one will. The recycling rate in 2018 was at 15% whereas the aim for 2035 is 55% (failing the 50% in 2020). The landfilling rate in 2018 was at 85% aiming for 10% in 2035. We recognize that this should be catered for by the European Union, which strives to enforce legislation in Member States. However, we believe that more detailed plans and obligations should be expressed and committed on a national level. We also wish to underline the emergency of the situation, specifically as Malta’s per capita waste production is one of the highest in Europe. We acknowledge that change cannot be immediate. However, too many actions are planned in the medium to long term, whereas they should be made the absolute priority.

Martin Galea De Giovanni, chairperson of Friends of the Earth Malta, said “The damning NAO report on the effectiveness of plastic waste management published this week , clearly shows that previous Waste Management Plans have failed in being effective. FoE Malta has been sounding the alarm bells since when the (solid) waste management Strategy was published in 2001 . We understand that some decisive measures might not be popular with some sectors, but unless bold steps are taken now, the economic, social and environmental price to pay will be even higher in the long term.”

The generation of waste has increased by 18% in 3 years rising from circa 245,000 tonnes in 2014, to 290,000 tonnes in 2017. Seeing as Malta has been struggling for a long time to manage its generated waste, it is fundamental to transition to a real circular economy.

Christine Cassar from Moviment Graffitti concluded that “While prevention of waste generation is the focus of an important point, some measures, like the paper-reduction through the unsolicited mail project, seem quite piddling. Even though we agree that every step helps, presenting such measures cannot be a way of taking the focus off more ambitious measures such as disposal fees for industries and high importation tax on secondary packaging.”

While the two NGOs understand the economic realities behind waste management, they stressed that it is also important to remember the economic, social and human costs behind the destruction of nature through the production of waste and these alone should suffice to justify the change. This plan should be linked to other policies and plans such as tourism and development increase, amongst others.

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