[WATCH] Government and industry agreement aims to collect and reuse 90% of containers

MOU signed between Resource, Recovery and Recycling Agency and an industry joint venture sets end 2019 as target date for launch of containers scheme

The MOU agreement being signed
The MOU agreement being signed

The government and a private industry have entered into an agreement aiming to launch a bottle collection and recycling scheme by this time next year.

The scheme has the target of leading to 90% of all bottles being collected and reused within four years that the project starts operating.

Following a Memorandum of Understanding signed today between the Resource, Recovery and Recycling Agency and the Beverage Container Refund Scheme joint venture, Environment Minister Jose Herrera said the agreement was possible because the entire industry had united behind the government to launch the scheme.

Malta is currently using around 200 million containers each year, much of which end up in the sea and eventually in our food chain, he said.

Herrera said the industry had understood that it was now time to start collecting and reusing plastic, glass and metal containers, and because of this the process has been made easier for the private sector to control the scheme, with government acting as a regulator.

The scheme will be financed by the operators involved for and will entail a €10 million investment, the minister said.

"We need to change our linear economy mentality into one using a circular type of model, which sees materials as resources - including those products which have been used," Herrera highlighted.

The Prime Minister said that having in place a bottle collection scheme had been one of the government's biggest dreams for the Malta of the future.

"It is in fact a major revolution in waste management, which will leave its positive effects on the decades still to come," Joseph Muscat said.

Since the entire industry was behind the project, he said that the government could go directly to the MOU signing phase without having to issue a call for tenders.

He noted that a country's waste problem increases as its economy grows, and that Malta's high growth rate had acted as an accelerant of the amount of waste generated. "This is the downside of our economic expansion."

Muscat pointed out that Malta currently only recycled around one in four containers. "With the scheme, we need to start collecting three of every four bottles, with only one remaining unaccounted for," he said.

He also said that, since the introduction of the organic waste collection scheme a few weeks ago, the country had already collected as much such waste as it had during the whole duration of last year.

"In six weeks we collected three tons of organic waste. This equals the total amount collected throughout 2017." 

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