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Record performance signals progress in Malta’s Waste Management

Record performance signals progress in Malta’s Waste Management

European Commissioner for the Environment Virginijus Sinkevičius welcomed the work being carried out by Malta to “break from past trends” in the waste management sector, taking the necessary steps to move toward the EU’s 2035 waste targets. 

Together with Environment Minister Miriam Dalli and WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca, the Environment Commissioner toured the country’s waste management infrastructure during his visit to Malta this week.  

“It is impressive to see how Malta is breaking from past trends in waste management through massive investment and courageous policy changes to move fast toward the 2035 EU targets. I am fully aware of Malta’s past struggles in this sector and I am convinced that the right strategy if supported with a major culture shift in waste management by all players, will give the required results,” the EU Commissioner stated. 

The Commissioner observed measures being taken to consolidate Malta’s waste management system through the implementation of the ECOHIVE strategy, which is based on the circular economy concept. The delegation could see the difference between the old Magħtab landfill and the ongoing work on the new strategy, highlighting Malta’s current efforts to move away from landfilling and transform waste streams into valuable resources. 

Minister Miriam Dalli said that “We are working to reverse a trend which has seen the country consistently ranked lowest across all scoreboards since joining the EU. With the strategy we embarked on, encouraging results are being seen. In fact, over the past two years, WasteServ achieved record outputs in terms of the number of recyclables returned to the economy. This includes a significant increase in plastic recycling performance, more than tripling Malta’s previous performance.”  

Additionally, impressive quick gains have also been registered in separately collected organic waste, with a solid increase of over 25% which is resulting in higher renewable energy production. Increases have been registered across all waste streams, and the industrial sector has seen exponential growth in separated waste that previously went to landfill, with wood increasing by 72% and mattresses by 600%. 

Minister Miriam Dalli explained that whilst these achievements are highly encouraging, they serve as a departing point for Malta’s more ambitious targets.  

Major works are currently underway to prepare the infrastructure for the future. Excavation works for the waste-to-energy plant, its bunker, and the seawater cooling pumping station are nearing completion.  

On the other hand, the competitive dialogue procedure to select the technology provider and operator for the waste-to-energy facility is in its final stages. Once operational, this plant will divert over 190,000 tonnes of non-recyclable material from landfills and convert it into green energy, meeting around 4.5% of Malta’s total energy needs. The designs, tender material, and necessary studies for a new organic processing plant are almost complete and should enable Malta to have another state-of-the-art facility capable of converting 74,000 tonnes of organic waste into compost and renewable energy in the coming years.  

Groundworks have also begun for a skip management facility that will divert an additional 47,000 tonnes from landfill. 

WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca also highlighted how WasteServ’s employees are fully motivated to deliver Malta’s ambition in waste management and how the investment put forward by the government and recent policy upgrades are proving to be a major game changer. 

Commissioner Sinkevičius also toured the rehabilitated Wied Fulija landfill, seeing how the country is not only working tirelessly towards reaching its future targets​ but is also working on fixing past mistakes. Wied Fulija, once a major environmental problem in southern Malta, has now become a public park and a biodiversity hotspot, offering families a chance to enjoy nature’s beauty. 

“It’s an excellent place for our nature restoration projects, to see how a landfill, dirty and polluting, was turned into a nice place where you can come, have a brisk walk and enjoy the beautiful seas surrounding Malta. This is an example of nature restoration working in practice,” the Commissioner concluded. 

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