Malta’s restaurants have been operating under a takeaway only model for weeks now – and some people seem to have taken it as a cue to begin leaving said takeaway leftovers in the environment.
Several users have uploaded images of everything from leftover pizzas to alcohol to crisp packets; just this month, a popular Maltese presenter even went live on Facebook to showcase the leftovers of a picnic bonfire in Mosta’s Targa Gap.
It’s not just green areas facing more litter, but seaside benches as well – even those placed right near a rubbish bin. And just this week, the police opened an investigation into a group of individuals who dumped a car into the sea near Armier, seemingly as a joke.
“Spotted in Ta’ Fra Ben area, I cannot understand the stupidity of certain individuals, there is a rubbish bin a few meters from the bench, this is not laziness, this is pure arrogance and egoism.”
“Humans – the virus of planet earth!”
A spokesperson from the Environment Ministry said that education and enforcement were key to improving the public’s approach to throwing their rubbish away.
“With the closure of bars and restaurants, dining out shifted to public areas, mainly to our beaches and open spaces,” an Environment Ministry spokesperson told Lovin Malta.
“Even though waste data on mixed waste over the last four days is not showing an upward trend so far, from patrols carried out by Environmental Rangers, we can confirm that take-out bags and masks littered in the rural environment are more frequently seen.”
“Our fight against littering and illegal dumping is a long-standing one.”
Noting that campaigns such as ‘Saving Our Blue’ had raised awareness on the impact litter can have on marine life, the ministry reiterated that littering and illegal dumping are punishable actions for which fines had recently been increased.
“This sad sight can be tackled using the same two tools, we have been using so far: education and enforcement but more forcefully,” they said. “We commit to continue relentlessly advocating first and foremost the prevention of waste, so wherever possible we urge people not to opt for single-use plastic items, and secondly to dispose of their waste correctly.”
“Never leave any waste behind – use the infrastructure provided.”
As more and more people opt to eat outside, and summer approaches, enforcement will be on the rise – but it truly depends on each and every one of us to do our part if we want to keep Malta clean.
Cover photo left: Keith Ellul, right, Jean-Luc Micallef