Let’s face it; Malta’s recycling system has needed some sorting out for a while now. What’s even more worrying is the fact that it’s only getting worse – the already miserable rate of 8% of waste being reused from 2012 has just gone down a couple of notches, and is now sitting at 6.7%. That’s not just bad, it’s the worst in Europe… by far.
A recent study issued by the European Union’s statistics office (Eurostat) and reported by Times of Malta this week outlined the progress most countries in the mainland have been reporting in recent years. In the EU, the percentage of municipal waste which was recycled has been steadily climbing, from 25.3% in 2000, to about 45% in 2015 (the latest year with available data). In comparison, that’s more than six times what Malta’s managing.
So what’s the situation back at home?
Well, many have started getting involved in cleanups and urging their family and friends to take up a more sustainable lifestyle, but the general feeling seems to be a blasé, “Eesh, that’s not too good, is it?”
All EU members have bound themselves to recycling 50% of waste by 2020, and while the European average is already on track to reaching that rate, Malta isn’t even a fifth of the way.
Our recycling rate might’ve gone up by 1% from 2014 to 2015, but if we aim on reaching that elusive 50% by 2020, it’s not nearly enough. Almost ironically like clockwork, by the time that deadline arrives in two years, the Magħtab landfill is expected to fill up.
The report did note that the island’s major obstacle is the “inherently small scale of the Maltese market,” stating that economies of scale in recovery and recycling of waste still need to be achieved.
Last week, Environment Minister José Herrera acknowledged that Malta still has “a long way to go” before reaching those 2020 targets. “The waste management issue is a challenge the government faces, and more work on it is needed,” Dr. Herrera said.
Last month, Green MT launched a recycling campaign in aid of this year’s L-Istrina, with the hopes of collecting 50 tonnes of milk cartons in just six weeks. The campaign was launched earlier in November during the European Week of Waste Reduction, with Green MT pledging to donate €60 for every tonne connected to L-Istrina. To see if your Local Council is participating (or for any other queries) call on their Freephone 80074444.
GreenPak also recently launched their own campaign, Crush and Win, where it will be giving away €100 every day to one lucky person who would’ve discarded bottles or containers. The campaign will run for a year, and will target littering and reduce the amount of plastic irresponsibly discarded in our environment and oceans.
A couple of weeks ago, Minister Herrera had announced that new waste separation laws were currently being drafted, reportedly making recycling compulsory and straightening littering laws.