[WATCH] Higher landfilling charges for mixed waste produced by businesses

Higher landfill charges will apply from 1 January for mixed waste • Tariffs for separated recyclable and organic waste will remain the same • Households not impacted by tariff changes

Separated waste waiting to be exported at the Għallis facility operated by Wasteserv
Separated waste waiting to be exported at the Għallis facility operated by Wasteserv

Tariffs to dump mixed waste at the Għallis landfill will be increasing gradually over five years in a move targeting errant commercial enterprises.

Rates for mixed waste currently charged at €20 per tonne will increase by €20 per tonne every year starting from 1 January 2023. The rates will increase until they reach €120 per tonne in 2027.

The change in rates will have no impact on domestic consumers.

Environment Minister Miriam Dalli said the move is intended to encourage private enterprise to separate waste at source.

“The new landfill charges will be introduced gradually and will eventually bring us on par with other European countries. Those who separate waste will be rewarded because their fees will be lower,” Dalli said.

She added that government was working towards its 2050 target to have zero waste going to the landfill by having all of it processed, reused or turned into energy.

The minister said mandatory separation of waste is the next step and measures in this regard will be announced in the coming weeks.

Wastesev CEO Richard Bilocca said door-to-door waste collection, the bulky refuse service offered by local councils and the bring-in sites operated by Wasteserv will remain free of charge. He said households have responded well to waste separation campaigns, having reduced the wrong waste present in grey bags from 35% to 20% in just a year.

Bilocca added that the tariff reform targets the problem areas in Malta’s waste treatment efforts.

“The revised gate fees are intended to encourage commercial entities to differentiate their waste because it pays them to do so,” he said, emphasising that the existing rates for recyclable and organic waste will remain at existing levels.

Bilocca said that around 40% of the black bag waste is organic and most of this comes from commercial outlets.

Wasteserv will also introduce differentiated gate fees for various other materials, including flat glass, tyres, textiles, wood, mattresses, jablo and gypsum. These materials will be treated for reuse at a new materials recovery centre in Ħal Far.

The new rates for these individual waste streams cover the cost to treat these materials and were a condition of EU funding for the Ħal Far plant.

Bilocca said Wasteserv’s intention is not to make money out of these higher rates but the company has to recover the cost of treating waste.

“Wasteserv is losing money the moment mixed waste reaches its gate because of the existing low tariffs. By increasing the cost of mixed waste, it makes more financial sense for private operators to separate waste at source,” he said.

Bilocca said that wood that is disposed of at Għallis with other waste, currently incurs a €20 per tonne fee. From 1 January, mixed waste will incur a charge of €40 per tonne but if the commercial establishment pulls out the wood and deposits it separately, the cost will be €30 per tonne.

“We need to reduce mixed waste if we are to transition away from landfills, which nobody wants,” Bilocca said.

Malta’s dumping fees are the lowest in Europe, a situation that does not encourage operators to differentiate their waste.

Asked about the possibility that higher landfill rates will lead to more illegal dumping, minister Miriam Dalli insisted the situation existed even today. “Illegal dumping happens even today with very low gate fees but the decision to increase these fees must not be seen in isolation and we will strengthen enforcement to penalise illegal dumping.”