Waste management plan highlights need for new landfill

Draft waste management plan proposes new land fill and waste minimisation programme.

The Ghallis landfill will reach maximum capacity in around five years time.
The Ghallis landfill will reach maximum capacity in around five years time.

The identification of a new landfill is among the main goals set by the draft waste management plan, covering the 2013-20 period, environment minister Leo Brincat said.

Speaking during the launch of the consultation document Waste Management Plan for the Maltese Islands: A Resource Management Approach 2013 - 2020, Brincat revealed that the current lifespan at the Ghallis landfill does not exceed five years and a new landfill needs to be identified as soon as possible.

Brincat explained that the new landfill was a "realistic" project, especially since no concrete studies on the exportation of waste or thermal treatment were carried out by the government's waste agency WasteServ or the Malta Environment and Planning Authority.

He also said that past administrations were already considering this option should the need arise.

The new landfill which has yet to be identified should have a lifespan of 25 years and have the capacity to receive reject waste from the Sant Antnin Recyling Plant and other plants.

Good governance was key in maximizing Malta's limited space according to the plan.

Brincat added that the plan highlighted two other major priorities; increasing the efficiency and capacity at the Sant Antnin plan in Marsascala and the implementation of the waste minimisation programme.

Increasing the efficiency and the capacity of Sant Antnin would be achieved by addressing the plant's shortcomings, including design and operation limitations.

The environment minister noted that the waste minimisation programme was planned to commence in 2015 and this would include an increase in the collection of recyclable and organic waste from households and establishments.

The reform would lead to the collection of mixed waste to once a week and increasing the collection of recyclable waste such as glass, metal and plastic to twice or three times a week. The same would apply for organic waste, Brincat said.

Admitting that such a reform would not be popular, Brincat pointed out that this was the norm abroad and citizens needed to shoulder responsibility.

Among the main weaknesses of the current scenario of waste management, the draft plan highlights that Malta still has low recycling rates and too much mixed waste.

“Food waste already amounts to 22% of total waste and more than half of domestic waste generated. We need to address these statistics as soon as possible. It’s one of our priorities,” Brincat said.

Regards waste collection, the government is considering the “regionalization of waste management collection” in order to minimize collection costs.

This may lead to the modernization of the vehicle fleet by the private operator. The government is also considering waste collection by night in order to reduce possible disruptions to traffic.