The last decade has seen Maltese society becoming more aware of the need for the separation of domestic waste. Whilst the kerbside collection of the recycling bag, Bring-in and Civic Amenity sites has set us on the path to reaching our recycling targets. The recently launched organic waste pilot project is another step towards separating our waste into different fractions to ensure its sustainable management.
Although encouraging, recent figures show that there are still many individuals who have not yet stepped onto the recycling ladder. It is never too late to start, and the appeal to those who have not started to recycle is to recognize the importance of their contribution. A good place to start is going back to basics – and waste is no exception. It begins with a prevention call to reduce the generation of waste in order to lessen the magnitude of collection, treatment and disposal efforts required. Knowing that we are all consumers, the hierarchy advocates consideration to reusing items that may no longer serve their purpose.
Whether it is by upcycling them, donating them or even assisting their separate collection through specific local council initiatives, we would be ensuring that we extend the lifetime of that product and avoid it short-circuiting to become waste. Knowing fair well that consumption leads to the need for disposal, the third hierarchical step appeals to us to separate our waste in order to assist the national recycling efforts that are in place. The separate collection of organic waste is destined to satisfy the fourth hierarchical waste management option, that of the recovery of energy.
Disposal should be the solution of last resort and is in fact at the bottom of the hierarchy as it is the least preferred option. Disposal implies the taking up of landfill space and the creation of pressures for new landfill space in a country where land space is at a premium and where most potential locations are close to urban development. Malta has developed an infrastructure that permits us to commit to the waste hierarchy and to propel us to adhering to the higher ranked options for the management of our waste.
In making our personal choices we need to continue to think of ways of decreasing that portion of our consumption which, intentionally or not, ends up as waste. Buying loose fruit and vegetables will go a long way to reducing the amount of packaging generated and discarded. Throwing something into the bin is always the easier option but when temptation strikes, stop and think. Ask yourself whether you can reuse that object differently, or whether you can give it to someone who may make better use of it.
Specific collections for glass and textiles are organized by some local councils and most also offer a free bulky refuse collection service for larger items. Be proactive and use the infrastructure provided to you for free and yes, you will make a difference. Future generations who may include your children and grandchildren are counting on you. Do your bit!
For more tips and creative ways to reduce and manage your household waste more efficiently visit www.dontwastewaste.gov.mt