We’ve all got pretty used to seeing waste separation bins around Malta, and most of us have them in our own homes. But we still find ourselves standing over the recycling bin, staring at a packet that needs to be thrown away thinking “Imma, can I recycle this?”
Lovin Malta has created a guide to help you overcome this sort of dilemma.
The Five Rs
We know it’s extremely hard to go zero waste but at least we can manage our waste properly and responsibly. Use what’s called the ‘Five Rs Method’, your simple guide on how to achieve zero waste.
You’re out and the bartender is about to put a straw in your drink; REFUSE this practice and drink it without one… you don’t actually need it.
At the supermarket show up with your own material bag and get your own containers for meat/deli counters; REFUSE the use of plastic bags and packaging during your daily xirja.
Say no to plastic bags, say no to disposables. If you don’t need it just stay away from it.
Less is more.
Before buying something, ask yourself “Do I actually need this?” If the answer is no, turn around and walk out of that shop. Fight the temptation and keep. on. walking.
The EU Parliament just passed a law to ban the consumption of some single-use plastics. Prepare yourself; ditch the disposables and start using items that can be used time and time again.
Switch up your old clothes by cutting or restyling them to fit today’s trends. There are some great DIY videos on how to reuse your clothes and other household stuff, we suggest that you go and check them out.
Your wallet will thank you for this later.
Now it’s time to get creative.
Shake things up a bit and give old items a new purpose in life. Take that sweater of your ex that you can’t seem to get rid of (despite the fact that you’ve been broken up for years) and turn it into a cushion cover. Or use the wood of that broken chair that’s been sitting in your hallway since forever for the fireplace in winter, or give it to you nannu for when he builds the presepju.
This is the big R and the one that we’re all most familiar with.
Note that it’s the last R, so technically there shouldn’t be much left to recycle, if you’ve refused, reduced, reused and repurposed most of your waste, the idea is to work to prevent producing so much waste. Nonetheless it’s always better to recycle anything that can be recycled rather than throw it in the black bag.
IMPORTANT: Recycling is easier than you think
Your green/grey bags are collected from outside your door; and you can find out which day this is by contacting your local council, or accessing their website or social media page.
When it comes to recycling glass, it’s collected from outside your door at least once a month, depending on your local council.
What can you recycle?
Our main and simplest suggestion is to always look at the packaging and see if the item is recyclable or not. As a general rule, clean the item and make sure there’s no food waste left on it.
Clean foil tray papers and clean boxes.
Oily pizza boxes, or any food packaging which has been dirtied.
Empty aerosol sprays and metal cans.
Both clean or dirty tissues of any sort, cooked and raw foods, teabags and ground coffee should go in the white organic bag and not the green/grey recycling bag, whereas ceramics should go in the black bag.
Jablo or polystyrene should either go in the black bag or else (if in large quantities) it can be taken to Wasteserv’s Civic Amenity Sites.
Cartons like those milk cartons are fully recyclable – and so are the plastic caps!
Coffee cups made out off polystyrene, like those take-away coffee cups you practically live on.
Plastic containers, plastic bottles and plastic bags.
Cling film and sweet wrappers that are lined with aluminium.
Glass is specifically recycled and collected at least once a month from your doorstep in most localities, or you can also drop it in a bring-in site at any time.
Pyrex, bulbs and window panes cannot be recycled. These go to civic amenities sites in Ta Qali or Mriehel, or taken in to bulky refuse.
The Five Rules of Recycling
1. Check it out
When buying products, go over the labelling to make sure you’ll be able to recycle it once you’re done using it. Also, inform yourself on where you’ll be able to recycle it (i.e. at home or in your local separation bins).
2. Sort it out
Check the recyclable waste pick up days in your locality. You can keep the bins in your house close to each other, making it easier to separate your waste properly.
Watch out not to contaminate the recycling bag as this could also contaminate all the material collected in the recycling system.
3. Wash it out
Nobody likes having to exert extra effort for the small things, but washing containers before putting them in the recycling bag is extremely important.
Get rid of that stank by washing items before throwing them into the recycling bag. Also, keep in mind that the majority of recycled waste is sorted by hand, so really by washing it you’re showing some respect to the people handling and sorting your waste. Most importantly, you don’t want to contaminate the material that’s going for recycling.
4. Avoid rookie mistakes
Don’t throw away non-recyclable items into the recycling bin. This is crucial since non-recyclable materials just make the sorting process less efficient and jeopardise the recycling of the entire bag.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to make sure you’re washing your recyclables well. If not, the whole bag will get contaminated or compromised, which means your recyclables won’t actually end up being recycled.
5. Know what’s what
Head to Don’t Waste Waste to find out what’s happening with waste in Malta. Once you make yourself more aware, you’ll want to separate your waste. It’ll be easier than finding a pastizzi shop near you.
And if you already knew all of this, then keep on doing you.
We don’t have much of our own resources on this island as most things need to be imported from other countries, meaning that our carbon footprint is already substantially larger than others. So the solution really is to opt for zero waste, and let the The Five Rs be your guide, but more importantly be sure to recycle anything that can be recycled rather than throw it in the black bag.
And if we continue to litter our island and don’t start implementing zero waste, then we’ll see many more disturbing images like these in the near future.
So now that you know what to do, take these practices home and make them your own. Once you aim for zero waste, I promise you this country will begin to be a cleaner place.