Freeze your organic waste to avoid odours, Wasteserv CEO suggests

Xtra on TVM | Fixing Malta’s waste problem: From freezing organic waste bags at home to getting the army out onto the streets

Wasteserv CEO Richard Bilocca
Wasteserv CEO Richard Bilocca

People complaining about bad odours from the organic waste bag at home can freeze it until the next collection day, Wasteserv CEO Richard Bilocca said.

The unorthodox suggestion was made during TVM’s Xtra on Monday when Bilocca was answering a question about complaints that organic waste creates bad odours, especially in summer.

“Today, the organic bag is collected three times a week, and the black bag twice a week. Throwing the organic waste away with the black bag is not a solution. A small suggestion, to avoid the problem of bad odours, is to freeze the [organic] bag when it is full to be taken out on the correct day. This does not create any problems for us [Wasteserv],” Bilocca said.

The Wasteserv CEO said Malta is one of the countries that generates the most mixed waste, adding that 20% of black bag waste from residences was organic waste that could have easily been separated.

Bilocca said the numbers were worse for the commercial sector with 30% of black bag waste being organic waste.

 “The amount of waste going into our landfill accounts for more than 80%, and we’re aiming to reduce this to only 10%,” Bilocca explained, adding greater emphasis is being made on waste separation.
However, not everything was gloom and doom, he added. “Despite the increase in population the black bag tonnage decreased by 10%,” Bilocca said.

During the programme four mayors also spoke about the waste problem afflicting their localities.

Get the army out

Sliema mayor John Pillow
Sliema mayor John Pillow

The presence of the army on the streets, operating covertly, is necessary to establish a strong enforcement mechanism for waste management, Sliema Mayor John Pillow said.

"This is the level of seriousness the situation has reached. People are urging us to take immediate action," Pillow said.

He explained that LESA, currently responsible for waste enforcement, lack the necessary human resources. Therefore, he believes it is time to involve other disciplinary forces to assist.

Three other guests, St Paul’s Bay mayor Alfred Grima, St Julian’s mayor Guido Dalli and Swieqi mayor Noel Muscat agreed that waste management has become a problem that is so severe it requires drastic and immediate solutions.

The mayors recalled how, for some time, certain councils were in charge of green wardens, but even this practice was discontinued.

"The local council should maintain a dedicated team of individuals, and said team should be directed by the council as per their requirements, encompassing enforcement duties," concurred all four guests.

Swieqi Mayor Noel Muscat argued that the waste problem arises from short-let apartments.

“Residents are cooperative. Can you imagine that they desire their localities to remain in such a state of filth?" he asked.

A few years ago, the Swieqi local council had proposed that each apartment building have its administrator registered with the local council.

This would allow local councils to directly contact the administrator if recurring problems in the same spot on the same street continue to occur.

"For seven and a half years, we've consistently asserted... I humbly convey that this stands as our sole solution," Muscat expressed.

On the other hand, Pillow suggested that every family have its unique barcode printed on its garbage bags.

This would make it easier for enforcement entities to identify the culprits, whether the issue is waste on the streets or improper waste separation.