Waste separation efforts yield record 20,000 tonnes of recyclable waste

WasteServ hails 2023 as its best year in two decades with waste separation efforts yielding positive results • Black bag waste reduced by 23%, organic waste up 35%

Environment Minister Miriam Dalli (centre) and WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca (right) said 2023 was the agency's best year in two decades with more recyclable waste being recovered
Environment Minister Miriam Dalli (centre) and WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca (right) said 2023 was the agency's best year in two decades with more recyclable waste being recovered

WasteServ processed and returned more than 20,000 tonnes of recyclable waste for reuse in the economy last year, Environment Minister Miriam Dalli said on Monday.

This is the highest amount of recyclable waste ever processed, she added when speaking at the Multi-Material Recovery Facility in Ħal Far.

Dalli said the achievement came on the back of a 23% reduction in the generation of mixed waste by households. This represents the lowest amount of black garbage bag waste received by WasteServ in the last 20 years.

The frequency of the door-to-door collection of black bags was reduced to twice a week last year from three times a week in a bid to encourage households to separate waste.

Dalli said these results mark WasteServ’s “most successful year” since its inception in 2002. “They affirm Malta’s encouraging progress in the implementation of its long-term plans towards sustainable waste management,” the minister said.

The numbers presented by WasteServ show that the agency processed and exported to international markets 8,199 tonnes of paper and cardboard; 2,206 tonnes of various metals; 7,411 tonnes of glass; 1,422 tonnes of different types of plastics; 142 tonnes of wood; 350 tonnes of gypsum; and 297 tonnes of foam.

WasteServ also experienced a 35% increase in organic waste received from households and the commercial sector last year when compared to 2022. This waste was converted into 4.1 million units of energy, powering 570 homes for a year.

Dalli acknowledged the contribution of the public’s waste separation efforts. “Such positive results can only be attributed to a collective effort – individuals, families, businesses, government entities, voluntary associations, and many others – who are understanding the importance of reducing and recycling waste to protect the environment and the future of our country.”

Malta must reach the target of reducing the landfilling of waste to 10% by 2035. Apart from efforts to recover recyclable waste for eventual re-use, WasteServ is in the process of building an incinerator to significantly reduce the volume of waste that ends up in the landfill.

WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca saidt the 2023 results can be attributed to the opening of two new facilities in the past year. The first one, located at the ECOHIVE Complex in Magħtab, involved a €4 million investment in a recyclable waste processing plant that started operations in March. The other investment was the €22 million development in Ħal Far that processed various streams of waste recovered through the bring-in sites.

“We also have several ongoing projects, including a new automated glass sorting line scheduled to be operational by mid-2024, and as part of the ECOHIVE Strategy, a skip management facility that will process bulky waste from open-topped skips, as well as a new organic waste processing facility to replace the current one,” Bilocca said.

He added that work on the incinerator is progressing with the plant’s excavation works having been completed last year.