Black rubbish bags to be substituted by transparent ones

Recycling of paper, metal, glass and bio-waste to become mandatory

Legal amendments to waste regulations foresee the introduction of a yet-to-be established cut-off date for substituting the black bag for mixed waste with a transparent one.

This change is intended to improve enforcement in a sector in which Malta lags far behind EU targets, recycling less then 20% of its household waste far less than the mandatory 50%.

Another legal notice issued for public consultation will make it mandatory on everyone to separate paper, metal, glass, bio-waste and any other waste stream to be determined by the government in the future.

Households who fail to separate their waste will be first warned on the first reprimand and then will be liable to a €25 fine on the second infringement and will be fined €50 for every subsequent contravention. Businesses will be liable to a maximum fine of €150 from the third contravention onwards.

This obligation to separate waste will apply to everyone, including households, businesses and government buildings, regardless of whether waste is generated at home, at work, or in public places.  As regards waste generated in public places (at beaches, walking in the streets, etc), this new obligation will apply where relevant bins for the separate collection are so available to the public.

This means that disposing these materials in the mixed waste bag will be illegal.

But enforcement is currently difficult in view of the dumping of mixed waste in to the black bag.  It remains unclear how government officials will be able to identify the ownership of mixed-use bags containing the wrong material.

The proposal is in line with a long-term waste management plan issued by the environment ministry in 2020 according to which waste bags should be standardized with see-through material that will enable swifter enforcement action for those monitoring waste separation.

The plan also foresaw a higher cost on black bags, to ensure that businesses and households that embark upon separation at source will bear a lower cost of waste management than those who are more careless. But to avoid any hardship on low-income families, the plan the distribution of a number of free bags to households.