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Waste management resolution at Council of Europe

Waste production is predicted to double by 2025, according to a resolution presented yesterday to the 13th plenary session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

The resolution, presented by Malta Local Councils Association vice-president Joseph Borg, notes that local and regional authorities are being confronted with major problems regarding landfilling and the management of municipal waste.

Waste disposal methods are not coping with the increased loads, and the amount of biodegradable waste is growing, the resolution points out, showing that Malta is not alone with regard to waste management problems. In fact, it is doing better than certain EU countries and most Eastern European states.

Entitled Local And Regional Waste Management And The Siting Of Landfills, the resolution was prepared by Mr Borg, who is the rapporteur of the Sustainable Development Committee of the congress, and by Valerio Prignachi, and deals with the consequences that waste management has on Europe's future socio-economic development.

"Waste generation is inevitably linked to economic activity, meaning that as Europe's economy grows, so will its waste problem," Mr Borg pointed out.

The resolution highlights the lack of data on waste management, and the awareness of the negative effects of bad policies.

It proposes a series of measures for tackling waste management challenges, including public awareness campaigns on the importance of waste reduction, recycling and selective collection; the development of a more responsible conduct among goods manufacturers; the protection of the public in connection with the siting of landfills; the imposition of penalties for the poor management and maintenance of existing sites; and the encouragement of desirable practices, such as waste prevention, minimisation and recovery. A solid waste management crisis exists in many parts of Europe as a result of the inability to site new landfills to replace the consumed capacity of existing ones. The situation in a place like Malta, with its limited surface area and dense population, imposes even wider challenges, Mr Borg wrote.

The resolution points out that local and regional authorities, often responsible for landfill sitings, should obtain financial and technical support from governments. It recommends that those living in the vicinity of landfills should be eligible to some form of assistance, including financial, or, possibly, relocation.

While landfilling is considered the lowest-ranking waste management option, it remains the dominant method used in Europe because it is the easiest and because of the public's reluctance to accept incineration as a safe treatment and disposal option, the resolution finds.

The resolution will now be sent to the Council of Ministers to determine whether action should be taken on it.

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