'Reaching EU waste management targets'
Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco told Parliament yesterday that Malta was on the right track to reach EU waste management targets.
Introducing a discussion in Parliament on the Waste Management Strategy, Dr de Marco announced that two mechanical biological treatment plants would be built with an investment of €10 million. There would also be a plant at Siġġiewi for the treatment of manure.
He said the EU required member states to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste produced in 2002 to 50 per cent by 2013 and to 35 per cent by 2020. Policies to reach these targets were on the drawing board.
Malta was also required to reduce packaging waste. The directive provided measures to reuse and recycle. High rates of battery recycling had already been reached.
Earlier, Dr de Marco said that preventing and managing waste was at the heart of sustainable development. While human activity was based on consumption, waste was rarely addressed. Waste was either piled together or deposited in the sea. It should be collected in a way not to harm the environment.
Malta had to abide by 90 legislative instruments.
One EU directive required each member state to have a waste management plan, and the government based its actions on the principle of the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Sustainability was achieved when the necessary measures for the environment were adopted. Moreover, measures should be taken to avoid future problems. Polluters should pay, he said.
There were changes in the way of thinking and how one looked at the environment. Households, industries, local and central government should all be responsible in waste management. Solutions for environmental problems were not easy to implement: while everybody wanted to manage waste, nobody wanted a plant in their vicinity. Dr de Marco said that investments in such activities as recycling and bring-in sites campaigns, among others, had had a good impact. Malta was also using EU funds to reach its targets.
The Office of the Prime Minister was responsible for policy-making. It was also backed by Mepa, which was the environmental regulator. Policies were drafted to implement EU directives and other obligations.
Dr de Marco said the document questioned whether the legislative plan had performed well or needed changes or fine-tuning. The government was increasing personnel in the Environment Protection Directorate by 45 to strengthen its enforcement capabilities. Malta had good regulations on waste management, and these should result in sustainable development.
Mepa regulated waste storage facilities, which should have an operating licence. Every landfill should have an environmental permit, whose auditing was an integral part of the environmental monitoring.
This should also be carried out in dialogue with the industry.
This year, four new integrated pollution prevention and control (IPPC) permits had been issued and the Environmental Protection directorate was processing five others.
Quarries should also conform to EU standards; they could not keep operating in the way they had been to date.
De de Marco said waste had to be reduced to avoid the negative effects on the environment, such as harming the water table and producing the greenhouse effect.
As discussions on incinerating were always charged, the subject should be treated with great caution. Meanwhile, the various types of incineration technology and alternatives to incineration should also be considered. The strategy stated that the implementation of the waste management system should not put a financial burden on the government, and therefore it should operate through a full-cost-recovery basis. The government would continue to operate this sector until there was a private operator.
The environment sector offered opportunities of green jobs. Moreover, both individuals and the industrial sector should follow the RRR principles.
Concluding, Dr de Marco said that the government should keep taking the necessary action in this sector because success was measured when strategies were implemented on a national level.