[WATCH] Plastic fruit and veg packaging can’t be reduced till contract expires, Herrera tells students

The Environment Minister told students during a Q&A that government would be looking to find a new way of packaging fruit and veg in school once the contract runs out

Environment-conscious students asked minister Herrera several questions, ranging from sustainability measures to education
Environment-conscious students asked minister Herrera several questions, ranging from sustainability measures to education

Environment Minister José Herrera told primary students on Thursday that the Maltese government would keep using single-use plastics to provide children fruit and vegetables under an EU-funded scheme because it was the best it could do.  

“We have a deal with the companies and so till the contract runs out, we will keep on using them. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best we could do,” Herrera responded to a question by a St Albert’s College in Valletta.

Earlier this year, the school had refused to participate in the scheme, because of its plastic packaging.

The minister was answering questions during a Q&A session organised by the NGO Young Reporters of the Environment. The session was attended by various students from primary and secondary schools around the country.  

During the session, the minister was asked questions regarding policies and actions pursued by the ministry.

READ MORE: Church school refuses free fruit and veg over packaging waste

The minister said that when the tender was issued at the time the healthy eating scheme was being introduced, there wasn’t such a strong awareness on the issue, and so at the time such packaging was deemed acceptable.

“I have also stepped in by removing plastic cutlery and straws from being distributed with the free fruit and vegetables,” Herrera added.

Other questions included the use of plastic bottles for water and soft-drinks, with the minister stating that during the summer of 2020, a bottle refund scheme would be introduced.

One of the students asked the minister on the government’s road-widening projects, with Herrera explaining the benefits of reducing bottle necks and the impact of a growing population.

“Life is about weighing the negatives and the positives. While we are nibbling away the natural landscape, when we reduce traveling times, we are reducing emissions,” he said.

Other questions from students asked about issues like education on environmental sustainability, taxation, the sea, and fines for illegal dumping.

The event also featured students who participated in international contests like the Litter Less Campaign and the Young Reporters for the Environment competition.

A total of 211 local projects were submitted, five of which placed first in their respective categories.

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