Ms Mary Gaerty – Managing Director of Green Skip Services
Mr Richard Bilocca – CEO at WasteServ
Mr Neil Agius – Athlete and Environmentalist at Wave of Change Malta
This webinar was part of the online event “Shaping Malta’s Future: The New Norm” which was held in July 2020.
During the pandemic health considerations took precedence over anything else, and this led to an exponential increase in single-use products, in an effort to reduce and control contamination. However, this is not sustainable in the long-term, and the authorities are still focusing on encouraging people to move away from single-use products.
The guest speakers expressed concern that people’s mentality towards waste management is a big hurdle in Malta. Ms Gaerty noted that while people’s cooperation in disposing of waste responsibly started to increase, some people still fail to cooperate. There seems to be a misconception that waste separated in households, eventually gets mixed up by those responsible for treating it. Mr Bilocca remarked that this may be the result of a failure in explaining to people what actually happens in practice.
The pandemic contributed towards people’s appreciation of open spaces and the natural environment. However, Mr Agius pointed out that we were quick to revert to our old ways once the number of cases started to drop. He went on to say that it is evident that, “the planet can survive without us. The planet does not need us, we need the planet.” He said that it is important that we learn to co-exist with the planet without causing it harm. In order to achieve this, we need to find the right balance. Unfortunately, this could only be achieved by introducing hefty fines and restrictions at first, until the public learns to appreciate nature by seeing it thrive.
The panellists were in consensus that education is key in overcoming these problems. It is not enough just to tell people to separate their waste, but it is vital to explain the purpose of waste separation. Doing so, would serve as an inspiration for them to make changes to their everyday life, making the public realise that “there is a very small effort that would make a big difference.”, said Mr Bilocca. Campaigns such as ‘Sort it Out’ and ‘Saving our Blue’ proved to be successful, but still, more needs to be done to alert the public about the services offered such as the bulk refuse collection. There needs to be greater advertising of the services available, to make sure that people do not litter irresponsibly.
Mr. Bilocca expressed that the way forward is by educating people to view waste as a valuable resource, and by convincing them that there are benefits to be reaped from responsible waste disposal. He enthusiastically expressed that Malta is in for a major overhaul when it comes to waste management. In fact, high investment is being undertaken to introduce infrastructure such as the ‘Waste to Energy’ Plant. This plant would contribute towards treating waste as a resource, by generating sustainable energy from such waste.
Another resourceful way of using organic waste is by pasteurising the resulting compost through heat and giving it back to the agricultural sector. These projects, combined with increased educational campaigns, will contribute to a cleaner and more sterile way of treating our waste, given that everyone puts in their effort.