Malta is officially the dirtiest man of Europe thanks to its dismal record in the recycling of municipal waste.
A European Commission report has found that Malta is among the four worst recyclers In Europe. The report says that in 2016 Malta, Romania, Greece and Cyprus recycled less than 20% of their total waste.
The municipal waste recycling rate (including composting) reported by Malta to Eurostat was 7 %, while the landfill rate was 83 %. This is by far the worst rate in Europe with Romania second worst on 13%.
“Based on an analysis of existing and firmly planned policies in the area of waste management, Malta is considered to be at risk of missing the 2020 target of 50 % preparation for re-use/recycling of municipal waste,” the early warning report said.
Malta still faces serious difficulties in its implementation of EU waste law, mainly due to lack of infrastructure and collection systems for recyclables and bio-waste.
The report says that progress is also hampered by the lack of coordination between different administrative levels and insufficient capacity at the local level, and more generally by a lack of incentives (including economic instruments) to prevent waste and improve recycling.
Moreover, the extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging in Malta, along with its monitoring and enforcement, have been somewhat ineffective.
Among the suggestions put forward in its report, the European Commission proposed the amendment of the Local Councils Act on responsibility for waste and recycling.
This, the Commission said, should clarify the role of the waste agancy Wasteserv and other stakeholders in household waste collection systems, including packaging and bio-waste.
The European Commission suggested to make local councils responsible for the collection of all household waste, including residual, recycling and organic waste.
Local councils should also be required to report data on household waste and recycling, as well as any commercial or other waste streams they manage.
“This would allow poor performers to be identified more easily for better targeted actions. It would also enable underperforming councils to be held to account,” the Commission said.
In recent weeks, government’s plans to make waste recycling compulsory ran into trouble after the legal notice had to be rewritten as the initial draft left out several localities.
Moreover, the distribution of small waste bins for organic waste also hit a snag as many people did not receive the bins and citizens had to wait in long queues in a number of local councils to pick up the baskets.