Scarcity of waste disposal sites could hike up building costs, developers warn

Contractors are facing a steep rise in costs for waste disposal as quarry operators enjoy a captive market with few sites in high demand

Quarry sites used for the disposal of construction waste are in short supply
Quarry sites used for the disposal of construction waste are in short supply

The Malta Developers Association has warned of a serious scarcity in adequate facilities for the disposal of construction waste. 

“Very little space is now available,” the MDA said, complaining of little remaining unfilled quarries whose operators enjoy a captive market in which demand heavily exceeds supply. 

A sudden price hike in construction waste disposal this week was also the source of great concern in the property market, with developers warning this would contribute to higher property prices. 

The concerns were raised after the owners of a Siggiewi quarry informed contractors of new prices for the dumping of construction and demolition waste. The price to dump construction waste will increase to €12 per tonne from €7 per tonne and that for demolition waste will go up to €15 per tonne from €10 per tonne. 

A company spokesperson justified the price hike by saying that the growing economy could absorb such costs and a board decision was taken last week to increase the fees. 

But Malta Developer’s Association (MDA) President Sandro Chetcuti said that such price hikes worry his association. “The rise in prices has an effect on consumers as someone must absorb the cost, but what worries me the most is the impact that might be felt in affordable housing,” Chetcuti said.  

Chetcuti said the association was currently communicating with Environment Minister Jose Herrera, over a possible strategy that could be adopted in relation to construction waste. 

“The situation has hit all contractors who cannot find a solution to the problem and face a steep rise in costs for waste disposal,” the MDA said Friday. “Apart from the fact that this increase in costs will be reflected in an increase in building costs, the situation will soon lead to a serious scarcity of disposal sites.” 

Meanwhile applicants for permits to use their property for construction waste disposal have been facing excessive bureaucratic procedures lasting many months. 

“Acceptable solutions are not easily forthcoming. A possible solution would be identifying an area of the sea where land reclamation is acceptable from an environmental point of view so that construction waste would be utilised for this purpose.” 

MaltaToday visited the site of the Siggiewi quarry owned by Tuminvest and V&C Contractors on Wednesday morning and spoke to operators waiting their turn to dump construction waste. 

A skip hire operator said that small companies such as the one he owns would feel the pinch of higher fees. He said that before he used to charge €50 per skip, but the recent surge in demolition waste disposal prices, has forced him to raise his price to €120. 

“We are the ones feeling the full impact of the increase in prices, before I used to rent nine skips a day, now a good day would be if I rent four,” he said. 

Another operator said that another quarry licenced to take in demolition and construction waste was expected to increase its fees as well next week. 

The Siggiewi quarry is situated just 400 metres from the UNESCO world heritage sites of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra. It was decommissioned in 1994 but a permit issued by the Environment and Resource Authority (ERA) last August, allowed for the crushing of stone for backfilling purposes. 

“The crusher is only allowed on-site as a means to reduce the size of stones accepted at this quarry, specifically for the restoration of the quarry,” ERA had said while defending the issued permit.