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Managing Packaging waste

Packaging waste consists primarily of paper, cardboard, textiles, metals, glass and
plastics making up a third of Malta’s total municipal solid waste produced in a year.
Way back in 2004, due to Malta’s accession into the EU, the European Directive on
packaging and waste (94/62EC) was enacted by Legal Notice 98 of 2004
[superseded by LN277/2006]. Basically, it contained a time frame for achieving
targets for recycling and recovery of packaging waste in Malta, where by the 31st
December, 2009 it was proposed that:

• 51% as a minimum and 65% as a maximum by weight of all packaging waste


resulting from packaging and packaging material put on the market be
recovered and
• 45% as a minimum and maximum by weight of all packaging waste resulting
from packaging and packaging material put on the market be recycled with a
minimum of 60% by weight for glass contained in packaging waste, 50% by
weight for metals contained in packaging waste, 15% by weight for plastics
contained in packaging waste, 65% by weight for paper and board contained
in packaging waste.

Clearly, this scenario was very unrealistic at that time so that on March 1 st, 2007 a
new Legal Notice 277 of 2006 was entered into force, containing a longer transition
period for attaining minimum packaging recycling targets in Malta.

Potential options that exist for Malta which are deemed possible and feasible to
reduce the amount of MSW going to landfill shall now be discussed.

Currently, when putting packed goods on the Maltese market the producer or
importer has to pay an amount of money as an eco-contribution to balance for the
negative environmental impact these products and their packaging might generate.
On its own, this should encourage reduction in packaging but exemptions from this
‘green tax’ can be allocated in cases where the company involved is able to collect
back a certain percentage of packaging waste it has generated. This recovered
waste can then be used for recycling purposes or to be treated at Sant’ Antnin Waste
Treatment Plant. On the other hand, companies producing excessive wastes related
to packaging could face heavy fines if they do not retrieve back a minimum amount of
what they put on the market.

By increasing the separate collection of packaging waste to be treated instead of


dumped in a landfill, would result in a prolonged lifetime of the current Gћallis
engineered landfill. This could be achieved by increasing the number of Bring-In-
Sites in Malta and Gozo, increasing the number of Civic-Amenity-Sites, promoting
kerb-side collection of dry recyclables (Recycle Tuesday) and if possible introducing
another day of the week, and intensifying campaigns to increase public awareness
of citizens and of public and commercial entities.

At the same time, the Sant’ Antnin Waste Treatment Plant should be operated at its
maximum capacity. If the need for another waste treatment plant should arise, a
possible and viable location is at the current Marsa Power Station which should be
closed down in a few years time. Marsa would be an excellent location provided that
it is more industrialized than Marsascala while being at a more centralized location.

In order to engage also the public, a system should be created in which it would be
mandatory to pay a small deposit of say 1€ when buying plastic bottles/containers or
cans for mineral water, soft drinks or beer. This sum of money would be returned to
the consumer when returning the empty bottle. Taking into consideration the majority
of the Maltese perception and mentality, this scheme should work brilliantly in
rendering anyone more aware of the environment by affecting him/her financially if
he/she does not comply. Besides, it is a system already in operation in a number of
European countries.