Malta's Recycling System Needs Sorting Out
Forget mixed recyclables – this is just mixed messages!
Okay. Let’s say what no one else wants to – recycling is a pain in the ass. Washing out all that food packaging, scrunching up bottles, trying to remember which material actually goes into which bag. It’s tough. But what’s tougher is the hard, cold fact that Malta is really quite bad at it, and as a result the percentage of our waste that goes to landfill is still very high.
The EU’s Circular Economy Package – a programme that tackles the lifecycle of waste, from production and consumption to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials – has a target to reduce landfill to maximum of 10% of municipal waste by 2030. Malta only recycles about that much. And our recycling efforts are actually worsening.
Meanwhile, other countries around us are using their waste to generate energy – see Sweden. Is there no way we can rewind Magħtab and just do that?
Probably not. And although Malta's waste situation has somewhat improved in recent years (joining the EU certainly kicked us up the ass), we're still far away from where we need to be.
Why? Well a number of fingers have been pointed, but perhaps the most obvious reason is that there is no overriding national waste collection scheme. Currently, Malta's local councils contract different companies to organise their waste recovery – GreenPak and GreenMT.
That wouldn't appear to be a problem if it weren't for the fact that the two companies have given different sets of instructions to locals on how to dispose of their recyclable waste. Their instructions on how to organise waste for bring-in sites are quite different:
GreenMT: Advises locals to only separate 'glass' waste into brown bins, but to dispose of 'mixed recyclables' into subsequent bins.
GreenPak: Advises locals to dispose of different materials into different bins – each bin corresponding to a different material.
It's hard to know without a thorough investigation whether this lack of coherency at a domestic level has an impact on how all waste is recycled. But logic would dictate that if a nation follows one set of instructions, and thus cultivates an awareness of how things are actually recycled, then a more deeply-seeded responsible waste culture will be more quickly developed. Maybe then recycling would become a bit less of a pain in the ass.