The Malta Independent 23 June 2021, Wednesday

Malta saw increase in municipal waste per person, but is it a sign of a wealthy economy?

Tuesday, 9 February 2021, 11:37 Last update: about 5 months ago

Municipal waste per person was the highest in Denmark, Malta, Cyprus and Germany in 2018, according to data published by the European Parliament.

While the amount of municipal waste as measured per capita declined in the EU from 2005 to 2018, Malta was among a number of countries that experienced an increase.


But according to the EP report, this could be a sign of a prosperous economy. Wealthier states, in fact, tend to produce more waste per capita, Tourism also contributed to higher rates in Cyprus and Malta.

On the other hand, municipal waste per person was lowest in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania.

In 2018, the EU set new, ambitious targets on recycling, packaging waste and landfill. The goal of these new rules is to promote the shift towards a more sustainable model known as the circular economy. In March 2020, the European Commission unveiled an action plan for a circular economy that aims to cut waste by better managing resources.

The European Parliament is set to vote on an own-initiative report on the action plan today.

Maltese MEPs Cyrus Engerer and Josianne Cutajar will be speaing at a press conference this afternoon. The Malta Independent will be following the event.

In order to look after the environment, waste either needs to be avoided or treated to reduce its impact.



The EU wants to promote the prevention of waste and the re-use of products as much as possible. If this is not possible it prefers recycling (including composting), followed by using waste to generate energy. The most harmful option for the environment and people's health is simply disposing of waste, for example on landfill, although it is also one of the cheapest possibilities.

According to statistics from 2017, 46% of all municipal waste in the EU is recycled or composted. However, waste management practices vary a lot between EU countries and quite a few countries are still landfilling large amounts of municipal waste.

Landfilling is almost non-existent in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Austria and Finland). Here incineration plays an important role alongside recycling. Germany and Austria are also the EU's top recycling countries.

But the practice of landfilling remains popular in the eastern and southern parts of Europe. Ten countries landfill half or more of their municipal waste.

In Malta, Cyprus and Greece this is more than 80%. In Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia it is more than 60%, while it is also half or more in Spain and Portugal.

Other countries also use incineration and send a third or less of their waste to landfill: Lithuania, Latvia, Ireland, Italy, France, Estonia, Slovenia and Luxembourg. Apart from Latvia and Estonia, these countries also recycled more than 40% of household waste.



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