The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Waste collection revolution

Saturday, 25 September 2021, 07:52 Last update: about 29 days ago

The Local Councils Association has come up with a proposal to gradually eliminate door-to-door waste collection. Instead, what it is suggesting is having a network of public waste containers, above and below ground, where waste could be disposed of.

In making the suggestion in comments to The Malta Independent, association president Mario Fava said that the idea is to eliminate having garbage bags piling up on doorsteps, occasionally making pavements inaccessible and giving an unhealthy and unhygienic appearance to our streets.

Such a proposal is apparently being given due attention by the government.

But one needs to make all considerations before resorting to such a measure. For one thing, we already know how hard it is to change the Maltese people’s mentality, and if such a proposal is to be implemented, one would certainly need a massive educational campaign.

A few years ago, when waste started to be separated at source into plastic, organic and general, it took quite a while for the Maltese public to get used to it. And while many households have made it a point to follow the rules, there are unfortunately still a sizeable number who do not really care. It is common to see, just to give one example, grey bags out on pavements when it is the day when black bags are to be collected.

Secondly, today it is easy to simply close a bag and take it out on the doorstep. Are we sure that the Maltese will comply with having to walk, or take a car, to dispose of the waste in a common container? Are elderly people who are not as mobile as they were in their younger years expected to carry these (sometime heavy) bags to the common container?

Thirdly, is enough consideration to be given to where these common containers will be placed? Are we to see mini-Maghtabs in every corner of the street or the village square? We already know what some sites would look like, given that in some localities there are skips where people can get rid of unwanted glass, plastic, paper and metal. If this new system comes to be, are we going to have different common containers for organic, plastic and general waste? Will these be cleaned regularly (especially the organic) or will we have a permanent bad smell hovering around the areas where the containers are placed? What happens if the containers are full? Will we have people simply dropping their garbage on the side of the road where the containers are placed?

Wouldn’t it, perhaps, be better to leave things as they are and have the waste collected from in front of doorsteps, but during the night, so as to avoid traffic and other issues during the day?

We are sure that the Local Councils Association has good intentions behind this proposal, but one has to study the matter in real depth to see whether something like this is suitable for Malta.

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