Greens welcomes BCRS, say deposit should be higher if consumption did not decrease

ADPD said that the government should not leave the Sustainable Development Strategy 2050 on the back burner, and implement it as soon as possible

ADPD said it was time for government to implement its plans and strategies (Photo: ADPD)
ADPD said it was time for government to implement its plans and strategies (Photo: ADPD)

ADPD – The Green Party welcomed the Beverages Container Refund Scheme (BCRS) and said that if consumption did not decrease, the deposit, especially on plastic, should be higher.

During a Saturday press conference in Fleur-de-Lys, the Greens referred to the draft Sustainable Development Strategy 2050, which they said should not remain on the back burner like other strategies, and be implemented as soon as possible.

ADPD Secretary General Ralph Cassar emphasised that political discourse in Malta had become populist, with politicians aiming to preserve the status quo and resist change.

“But we are in a situation where even a government that seems to be electorally strong, still doesn't have the backbone to carry out the necessary reforms,” Cassar said.

He said that one of the areas in which the government peddled populist policies, was the “free reign” it gave to private cars.

“Although the sustainable development strategy seeks to address car dependency, on the other hand, the government constantly encourages traffic and cars, and invests very little in roads that discourage traffic and encourage alternative transport,” Cassar said.

He said that the government’s own transport strategy showed that half of the journeys made by private cars were of distances that take less than fifteen minutes.

Cassar said it was contradictory that the strategy mentions that the government was committed to funding the research necessary for Malta to reach a zero-carbon economy, but then having one of the lowest investment rates in research.

“In 2020 Malta spent 0.7% of the Gross Domestic Product [on research], when the EU average was 2.3%,” Cassar said.

He emphasised that it was time for effective measures on water conservation, including an enforcement measure against the illegal disposal of water from roofs into the sewers. Cassar argued that this water had to be collected or stored.

He called “risible” the 11.5% target of renewable energy by 2030. “This government, like its predecessors, has not yet understood the urgency of a drastic reduction in our dependence on interconnectors and gas.”

Cassar welcomed the beverage container deposit scheme and said that it contributes to the second objective of the strategic goal of the strategy.

“This system should discourage the use and excessive consumption, particularly of bottled water. There are far more sustainable alternatives to bottled water - whatever the material of the bottles.”

He said that the system should remain in place and if consumption does not decrease, the deposit, especially on plastic should increase.

“The effort required to redeem deposits and a high deposit are ideal economic tools to change consumer behaviour, and for producers to find other ways to serve their customers. The ultimate goal is the reduction in the consumption of products and use of material – whatever the packaging material,” Cassar said.

“We will wait and see how committed the government is to really reduce the use of resources and not give in to pressure and populism.”

ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that a number of goals in the strategy were clearly explained, such as those on climate, waste, purchasing with environmental criteria, air quality, biodiversity, learning for life, digitalization, and the need for educational assistance to migrant students, among others.

“But at the end of the day, nice words need to be translated into action. Government and Ministers however seem to be afraid to explain to people what needs to be done, even because of their own populist ‘do nothing’ rhetoric,” Cacopardo said.

He emphasised that land use was missing from the strategy, except for some general comments. “Land is a scarce resource for us and in several circumstances is misused, contrary to the public interest.”

He said that Environment Minister Miriam Dalli introduced the strategy by saying that it focused on existing deficiencies, but she did not consider the major deficiencies in land use important enough.

Cacopardo said that existing open spaces in Malta’s urban areas and villages were under continuous attack, including some large private gardens. “They are under siege by speculators who are constantly afforded the red carpet treatment by the government.”

He said that there was also very little reference to the importance of protecting agricultural land from speculators.

“Although Miriam Dalli boasts of expenditure of €700 million in open spaces, in the same breath large open spaces are constantly being lost, a result of the failure of land use planning.

With all these shortcomings, the value of the proposed strategy on sustainable development is limited. It would be more useful to redraft it,” Cacopardo concluded.