In 2013 it was estimated that every person in Malta generated some 570kg of waste. This is higher than the EU average of 481kg. Although across the EU the amount of waste each year tends to be on the decline, we are still clearly producing significant amounts.
While in many countries landfilling is substantially declining and recycling has been occurring over a long time period, unfortunately in Malta landfilling in 2013 was still the most common type of waste treatment method. With an estimated 88% of waste being landfilled Malta is in second place after Romania, where 97% of waste is landfilled. This is a substantial amount and should be reduced.
Malta is a small islands and we do not have enough place where to landfill such high amounts of waste. Although large improvements have been made over the last decade, where waste is not more dumped but engineered, landfilling is now used and where recycling has increased substantially, more can be done to reduce landfilling.
We talk about the 3 Rs. These are reduce, re-use and recycle. If we want to improve this situation we have to start reducing our consumption of products which generate excess waste by buying products which have less packaging material, such as fresh products like fruit and vegetables. We should also re-use certain products such as bags rather than buying new plastic bags each time we go shopping.
Finally we should start recycling more. Many materials we use can be recycled. One must make sure, however, that the waste to be recycled is not dirty. Additionally we should start separating waste which can be used for composting. Such waste would result in free fertilizers for farmers which is also organic, hence farmers will require less artificial fertilizers; this will not only improve farming from an environmental point of view, but also from an economic point of view since farmers typically obtain such compost free of charge.
A very important process for reducing waste is education. Unfortunately many people in Malta still do not separate their waste properly, or do not recycle at all. The general public should be more aware of waste and the problems it causes, and what can be done to reduce this problem. This can be done by advertisement campaigns, increasing bring-in-sites and creating public debates and seminars in order to raise awareness about waste and its disposal.
Pascal Aloisio (ADŻ Malta Green Youth Executive Member)