Reusing waste is key to overcome Malta’s small-size challenge

The Environment Minister says country does not engage enough in sustainable waste management

Food waste will have to be segregated at home and collected separately as part of Malta's efforts to make best use of its waste
Food waste will have to be segregated at home and collected separately as part of Malta's efforts to make best use of its waste

Waste management should not focus only on reducing waste but also tie into the concept of a circular economy, the Environment Minister said on Thursday.

The circular economy model is an industrial process that targets restoration and regeneration of waste, rather than disposal.

Jose Herrera said the challenges Malta faced as a small island required it to shift to a circular economy, of which a mandatory recycling programme was an important pillar.

“Malta faces a number of environmental challenges which include the scarcity of natural raw materials, the generation of waste and the reality that we do not engage enough in sustainable waste management,” he told a conference this morning. 

The country’s dependence on imports means that influence on manufacturing processes is limited.

“However, the pressure we can do collectively, as importers and consumers, should not be discounted,” Herrera said.

According to engineer Marc Muscat, advisor to the minister, a circular economy is based on three key principles.

At its centre is designing ways and products that are capable of being reused. Secondly, it introduces a distinction between consumable and durable components within products. Within the circular economy consumables are mostly made up of biological ingredients that are non-toxic and could even be beneficial to the environment.

A third pillar is the energy needed to fuel this economy should be renewable.

"A way to push forward includes a mandatory recycling system enforced through fines for non-compliance... along with the organic bag project," Muscat said.

He noted that organic waste bags were distributed to all households so that they could separate organic waste, which until now makes up 50% of litter disposed in black bags.

The Environment Minister said that in the coming weeks the Second National Plan on Green Public Procurement will be launched for public consultation.

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