Nirriċiklaw l-iskart organiku

Kulma narmu għandu użu: anke ż-żibel hu utli. Is-separazzjoni tal-iskart, illum, hi parti essenzjali mir-rutina tal-ħajja tagħna. Nisseparaw il-karta, il-ħġieg, il-metall u l-plastic. Dan huwa kollu materjal li jista’ jerġa’ jintuża’. Ifisser ukoll li jkun hemm bżonn ferm inqas enerġija biex ikun hemm produzzjoni ta’ iktar karta, ħġieġ, metalli u plastic mill-prodotti li nirriċiklaw. Dawn flok ma jintremew fil-miżbla jibqgħu jiċċirkulaw fl-ekonomija. Dab hu l-bażi tal-ekonomija ċirkulari. Hu l-futur.

Nirriċiklaw ukoll l-apparat elettriku u elettroniku. It-TV, il-fridge, ir-radju, il–komputer jew il-laptop. Flok ma jintremew, illum il-ġurnata jżarmawhom biċċa biċċa u l-partijiet kollha tagħhom jerġgħu jagħmlu użu minnhom. Uħud minn dan l-apparat ikollu materjali rari: hu iktar utli għal kulħadd li minflok dawn ma jintremew jiġu utilizzati mill-ġdid.

Nirriċikaw ukoll il-batteriji għax meta dawn jintremew fil-miżbliet, biż-żmien, iniġġsu kull m’hemm u jagħmlu ħsara kbira ambjentali.

Tlett snin ilu l-Wasteserve tat bidu għal proġett pilota li ffoka fuq is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku. Kien proġett limitat għal numru żgħir ta’ lokalitajiet imma bl-intenzjoni li jqiegħed il-pedamenti biex is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku tkun prattika li tinfirex mal-pajjiż kollu. Dan fil-fatt ser jibda jseħħ minn nhar l-Erbgħa 31 t’Ottubru.

Dan l-iskart organiku jammonta għal madwar 50% tal-iskart li sal-lum inpoġġu fil-borża s-sewda li tinġabar minn wara l-bibien ta’ djarna. L-iskart organiku ser jibda jinġabar għalih f’borza bajda. F’kull residenza qed jitqassmu boroż bojod u bins apposta u ġie spjegat lilhom x’għandhom jagħmlu biex ikun jista’ jinġabar l-iskart organiku li huma jiġġeneraw.

Fil-borza l-bajda tal-iskart organiku tista’ titfa’ l-fdailjiet tal-ikel, nej jew imsajjar, ħaxix, ħut u frott, qxur tal-frott u tal-ħaxix, ħobż, teabags u kafè midħun, qxur tal-bajd, paper napkins u karti maħmuġin, weraq u fjuri. Lista twila ħafna.

L-iskart organiku fil-borża l-bajda jinġabar minn wara l-bibien tad-djar tagħna u jittieħed fl-impjant ta’ Sant Antnin f’Marsaskala fejn wara li issir verifika li fil-fatt fil-borża hemm biss skart organiku jitqiegħed f’apparat imsejjaħ waste digester fejn dan l-iskart jiddikomponi u minnu jinġabar gass li iktar tard jinħaraq biex jipproduċi l-elettriku. Minbarra l-elettriku tkun ukoll prodotta sħana li permezz tagħha, fost oħrajn, ser jissaħħan is-swimming pool tal-Fondazzjoni Inspire f’Marsaskala liema swimming pool jintuża bħala parti mill-għajnuna terrapewtika lill-komunità b’diżabilità. Dak li jibqa’, imbagħad, jintuża bħala compost. Għax fil-fatt, mill-iskart organiku, ma jintrema xejn.

Għalhekk huwa importanti li nirriċiklaw. Għax dak li, sal-lum, kull wieħed minna jarmi għandu użu. Meta nirriċiklaw nevitaw jew innaqqsu ħafna ħsara ambjentali u nagħtu kontribut biex ilkoll ngħixu ħajja aħjar.

Ir-riżultati li nkisbu mill-proġett pilota dwar is-separazzjoni tal-iskart organiku li inbeda tlett snin ilu għad m’humiex magħrufa pubblikament. Dan jeħtieġ li jsir biex ikun possibli li jsir skrutinju pubbliku adegwat. Kulħadd japprezza l-preparazzjoni estensiva biex ikun assigurat li fl-aħħar t’Ottubru l-ġbir tal-parti organika tal-iskart li niġġeneraw jimxi sewwa. Imma hemm bżonn li jkun hemm iktar informazzjoni dwar dak li sar s’issa.

Ippubblikat f’Illum: il-Ħadd 7 t’Ottubru 2018

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Recycling our organic waste

Everything we throw away has value: all our rubbish can be put to good use. Today, waste separation is an essential part of our daily chores – or it should be. We already separate paper, glass, metal and plastics from our waste. Instead of going to landfill, these resources are recirculated in the economy by being used again and again: as many times as is technically possible. This is a basic building block of the circular economy that is in the process of being established. It is the future.

We also recycle electric and electronic waste. Instead of being thrown away, televisions, refrigerators, radios, computers and laptops are disassembled with most parts being reused. The circular economy should ensure, over time, that more manufactured products are made of parts that are fully reusable. This will regenerate the constituent parts of these products when their useful life comes to an end. Most electronic goods contain rare metals that we need to preserve for future use and recycling ensures that what nature has provided is put to good use.

Three years ago, Wasteserve launched a pilot project focusing on the separation of organic waste. Limited to a small number of localities, this pilot project sought to lay the foundations for a nation-wide exercise aimed at separating organic waste and this nation-wide exercise is due to be launched on Wednesday 31 October.

Organic waste accounts for approximately 50 per cent of the waste we dispose of every day in the black bag which is collected on a door-to-door basis all over the Maltese islands. Appropriate bins and white bags are now being distributed to all households, together with information on how the collection of organic waste will take place. In the white bag for organic waste we should place food left-overs, raw or cooked, as well as used teabags, used paper napkins and similar items.

Organic waste in the white bag will be collected from our doorsteps and will be taken to  the Sant Antnin Waste Treatment Plant at Marsaskala. Here, after being checked, it will be placed in a waste digester where it decomposes and produces methane gas which is utilised to produce electricity. Other important by-products produced from organic waste are heat and compost. I am informed that, during the pilot project, the heat produced was used to heat up the water in the swimming pool of the Inspire Foundation at Marsaskala which swimming pool is utilised for therapeutic swimming.

Our organic waste is, in fact, a very useful resource – and clearly shows why it is important to recycle. All our waste can be put to good use. When we recycle we avoid, or reduce, negative environmental impacts and contribute towards a better quality of life for everyone.

The results of the pilot project on organic waste, initiated three years ago, are not available for public scrutiny. We undoubtedly welcome the extensive preparations in hand to ensure that, come 31 October, the collection of the organic part of our waste proceeds as planned. However, more information is required regarding the actual results achieved so far.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 7 October 2018

Inċineratur? Le grazzi.

 

L-iskart hu riżors li għandna nutilizzawh flok ma narmuh. Biex nilħqu dan l-iskop irridu nibdlu l-attitudni tagħna u minn ekonomija lineari naqilbu għal waħda ċirkulari. L-istrateġija dwar l-iskart tistabilixxi s-sena 2050 biex sa dakinhar jintlaħaq l-oġġettiv ta’ skart zero fil-miżbliet. Biex dan l-oġġettiv ikun jista’ jintlaħaq hemm diversi għodda amministrattivi.

F’ekonomija lineari aħna nużaw (jew nikkonsmaw) prodott u wara li l-ħajja utli ta’ dan il-prodott tiġi fi tmiemha narmuh. L-ekonomija ċirkulari taħdem b’mod differenti b’mod li l-prodott użat (jew il-partijiet li jiffurmawh) jibqa’ jeżisti wara li jtemm il-ħajja utli tiegħu u dan billi jintuża biex jinħoloq prodott ġdid.

Hu possibli li nimmiraw għal tnaqqis fil-ġenerazzjoni tal-iskart (waste minimisation). Dan isir billi meta l-prodott ikun iddisinjat, min joħolqu iqis sewwa l-iskart li dan il-prodott jiġġenera matul il-perjodu kollu li jkun qed jiġi użat. Permezz ta’ eko-diżinn il-prodott jissaffa minn dawk l-elementi tiegħu li ma jkunux neċessarji u b’hekk jonqsu id-diffikultajiet li jkun riċiklat.

Nistgħu nnaqqsu l-iskart li niġġeneraw billi nassiguraw li nixtru biss dak li għandna bżonn u li dan nagħmluh fi kwantitajiet addattati għall-ħtiġijiet tagħna. Nistgħu, pereżempju nużaw prodotti fi qies kbir flok kwantita ferm ikbar tal-istess prodott f’qies iżgħar. Bħala riżultat ta’ dan aħna jirnexxielna nnaqqsu l-iskart li niġġeneraw u dan billi narmu numru inqas ta’ kontenituri jew pakkjeġġar.

L-iskart li xorta jkun iġġenerat minkejja politika li tfittex li tnaqqsu jista’ jkun irriċiklat. Fil-fatt nirriċiklaw il-karta, l-metall, il-plastik u l-ħġieġ. Nirriċiklaw ukoll l-apparat elettriku u elettroniku. F’xi lokalitajiet beda ukoll ir-riċiklaġġ tal-iskart organiku li niġġeneraw.

Sfortunatament madwar 12% biss tal-iskart li niġġeneraw hu rriċiklat, ferm inqas milli qed jirnexxilhom iwettqu l-parti l-kbira ta’ pajjiżi oħra. Dan hu falliment fl-implimentazzjoni tal-istrateġija dwar l-iskart. Biex jgħatti dan il-falliment, il-Ministru għall-Ambjent, għan-nom tal-Gvern, qed jipproponi li nibdew naħarqu l-iskart li niġġeneraw f’inċineratur. Il-mira hi li jinħaraq 40% tal-iskart tal-gżejjer Maltin. Il-Gvern qed jipproponi li flok ma nibgħatu l-iskart dan naħarquh f’inċineratur biex nevitaw il-ħtieġa ta’ iktar art għal iktar miżbliet.

L-inċinerazzjoni ma tinkoraġix lin-nies biex jagħtu kaz ta’ dak li jikkunsmaw. L-inċinerazzjoni tinkoraġixxi soċjetà li tarmi u twassal il-messaġġ li hemm ħaddieħor li qed jieħu ħsieb jerfa’ l-problemi li noħolqu bil-konsum tagħna.

Qed jinfurmawna li bl-inċinerazzjoni ser niġġeneraw l-enerġija mill-iskart. Studju li ġie ikkummissjonat mill-NGO internazzjonali Zero Waste Europe intitolat The Potential Contribution of Waste Management to a Low Carbon Economy jindika li meta nirriċiklaw l-iskart niffrankaw bil-bosta iktar enerġija milli tista’ tkun iġġenerata meta jinħaraq l-istess skart. Allura fejn hu l-benefiċċju ambjentali?

Hemm bżonn ninvestu sforz ferm ikbar fir-riċiklaġġ tal-iskart. Din l-industrija għandha l-potenzjal li tiżviluppa f’pilastru ewlieni tal-ekonomija l-ħadra b’kontribut sostanzjali lill-ekonomija inkluż bil-ħolqien ta’ numru ta’ impiegi. Il-proposta tal-Gvern favur l-inċineratur ser joħloq ostaklu sostanzjali biex dan l-element importanti tal-ekonomija ċirkulari ma jitħalliex jiżviluppa.

Ikun ferm iktar utli kieku flok ma jwaqqaf kumitati dwar deċiżjonijiet li jkun diġa ħa, l-Onorevoli Ministru tal-Ambjent jipprova jifhem ftit x’inhu mistenni minnu.

Il-ħruq tal-iskart permezz tal-inċinerazzjoni ser iservi biex ikompli jnaqqas l-impenn tal-ftit li qed jirriċiklaw. Hu meħtieġ li minflok ma naħarbu mill-problema tal-falliment tal-politika dwar l-immaniġġjar tal-iskart neżaminaw bir-reqqa ir-raġunijiet għal dan il-falliment.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum : 24 ta’ Settembru 2017

Incinerator? No thanks.

Waste is a resource which should be used instead of being thrown away. For this to be achieved, we need to change from a linear to a circular economy.

Malta’s waste management strategy identifies the year 2050 as the target for achieving zero waste going to landfill sites and in order to achieve this target, various policy tools are available.
In a linear economy, we use (or consume) a product and at the end of its useful life we throw it away. A circular economy functions differently in that at the end of its useful life, a product – or its constituent parts – remains in existence by being utilised to create another product.

Through waste minimisation, the waste we generate is reduced to the minimum possible. Life-cycle thinking is key to reducing waste throughout the useful life of a product and this is done when a product is still on the drawing board. Through the application of eco-design, the unnecessary constituent elements of a product are weeded out. In addition, these constituent elements are also examined to ensure that none of them impede eventual re-cycling at the end of the product’s useful life.

We can also minimise waste by ensuring that we purchase and use only that which is required in appropriate quantities. We can do this, for example, by using products in large sizes instead of similar multiple products in small sizes, which will result in less packaging being sent to waste.

The waste that is generated, notwithstanding a waste prevention policy, can be dealt with in various ways. The preferred option is to recycle it, that is to seek alternative uses. We recycle paper, metal, plastics and glass. We also recycle electric and electronic equipment. Recycling of the organic part of the waste we generate is also in hand in various localities.

Unfortunately only around 12 per cent of our waste is being recycled, substantially less than in other countries. This is a failure in implementing the objectives of the Waste Management Strategy. To cover up this failure, the Environment Minister, on behalf of the government, has proposed to embark on a process of incineration, targeting a maximum of 40 per cent of the waste generated in the Maltese Islands. The government is proposing that, instead of sending waste to landfill, it should be incinerated –  thus eliminating the problem of identifying more sites for landfills.

Incineration does not encourage citizens to care about what they consume. It encourages the throw-away society and sends the message that others will shoulder the problems created by our consumption.

We are being informed that incineration will generate energy from waste. A study commissioned by the international NGO Zero Waste Europe entitled The Potential Contribution of Waste Management to a Low Carbon Economy indicates that recycling of waste can save substantially much more energy that can be generated through the incineration of the same waste. So where is the environmental benefit of incineration?

More effort needs to be invested in the recycling of waste. The recycling industry has the potential of developing into a very robust pillar of the green economy, creating a number of green jobs. The government proposal in favour of incineration will be an insurmountable obstacle as a result of which this important element of the circular economy will not be allowed to develop.

Rather then setting up committees to consider half baked decisions, it would be more appropriate if the Honourable Minister for the Environment would attempt to master his brief.

Burning waste in an incinerator will further reduce the commitment of the few who are currently bothering to recycle. Instead of avoiding addressing the failure of implementing the waste management strategy, it would be more appropriate if the reasons for this failure are identified.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 24 September 2017

Our waste has good value

organic waste

 

Our waste can be put to good use, which is why we are encouraged to separate and recycle what we would otherwise throw away. Our waste contains plenty of useful resources which can be recovered and re-circulated in our economy and we separate paper, glass, metals and plastic, all of which can be reused.

We also recycle electric and electronic equipment such as televisions, radios, refrigerators,  PCs and laptops. Instead of being thrown away, disintegrating into a chemical soup in a landfill, this equipment will be dismantled into its component parts, most of which can be reused. Most  electronic equipment  nowadays makes use of some rare metal and it is in everybody’s interest that such resources are recycled.

Next Friday, 30 October, state waste management operator WasteServe, in conjunction with the five local councils of Mdina, Ħal-Għaxaq, Ta’ Xbiex, Bormla and Birkirkara will commence the separate collection of organic waste in Malta. This pilot project will run for a number of weeks during which separated organic waste will be collected twice weekly (on Mondays and Fridays) after which it will be extended to the rest of our localities.

The organic fraction of our waste may be as high as 52 per cent of the waste discarded by each household in the black garbage bags. This, apparently, is the most accurate estimate to date resulting from a National Statistics Office study carried out in 2012 entitled Household Waste Composition Survey. A more recent waste characterisation exercise, carried out by WasteServe itself in the localities participating in the pilot project, indicates that the size of the organic waste percentage varies in the different localities. This may be the result of different lifestyles, as a result of which we tend to have different patterns of behaviour that are even evident in our waste.

WasteServe has already organised a door-to-door information exercise explaining their role to residents of the five localities, who have also been supplied with white bags in which they are to collect organic waste, as well as suitably aerated bins in which to place these bags.

Organic waste, sometimes referred to as “green waste”, is organic material such as food and garden waste. It can also include animal and plant-based material and degradable carbon such as paper and cardboard.

The organic waste collected from our doorsteps will be delivered to the Sant Antnin Waste Treatment Plant at Marsascala where it is verified that the white bags contain only organic waste. It is then placed in a waste digester where, as a result of its decomposing in the absence of oxygen, it will produce the gas methane, which is collected and used to produce electricity.

In addition, the heat produced will be used to heat the therapeutic swimming pool at the neighbouring Inspire Foundation, a considerable help to the foundation’s clients. The remainder is then used as compost.

The organic waste pilot project thus has the potential to substantially reduce the  waste that currently ends up at the Magħtab landfill. In addition, when the methane resulting from its decomposition is used to produce electricity, we will also be reducing the emission of a greenhouse gas which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This will be an additional step in reducing Malta’s contribution to climate change.

These are the practical reasons why it is imperative that we recycle. We reduce our negative environmental impact and, as a result, create the conditions for a better quality of life for everyone.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 25 October 2015

Managing our waste

bring-in site

Malta’s waste management strategy establishes the attainment of a zero waste target by the year 2050. An ambitious target, but also an achievable one.  How will we get there in thirty five years time?

The waste management strategy was updated in January 2014 through the publication of a waste management plan aptly subtitled ‘A resource management approach’. It has a seven-year lifespan (2014-2020).

Waste is considered a resource which should be utilised instead of being thrown away.  For this to be achieved, we need to change gear and shift from a linear to a circular economy.

In the linear economy, we consume (or use) a product and at the end of its useful life we throw it away. On the other hand, the circular economy functions such that a product (or its constituent parts), at the end of its useful life, remains in existence by being utilised to create another product.

In line with the EU waste hierarchy, Malta’s waste management strategy rightly places waste prevention as a first step.

Waste prevention, or waste minimisation, signifies the reduction of generated waste to a minimum.  Life cycle thinking is key to reducing waste throughout the useful life of a product. This is done when a product is still being designed. Applying eco-design weeds out the unnecessary constituent elements of a product. In addition, these constituent elements are also examined, such that it is ensured that none of them impede the eventual recycling at the end of the product’s useful life.

We can also minimise waste by ensuring that we purchase and use only that which is required in appropriate quantities. We can do this, for example, by using products in large sizes instead of similar multiple products in small sizes, as a result sending less packaging to waste.

The next level of the waste hierarchy is the recycling of products at the end of their useful life. We already recycle glass, metal, paper and plastics but we need to substantially improve our recycling performance as a nation. We need to acknowledge that we had a very late start in recycling. The first attempts at recycling were carried out in the mid-1990s under the watch of then Parliamentary Secretary Stanley Zammit. Unfortunately, Dr Zammit received very little support in his endeavours. 2013 statistics indicate that in Malta only six per cent of domestic waste is recycled, with another five per cent being composted. This 11 per cent of Malta’s domestic waste, which does not go to landfill, is in striking contrast to that for Germany (65%), Slovenia (61%), Austria (59%), Belgium (55%) and many other countries.

Statistics for 2014 and 2015 may eventually show a slight improvement, but we still have quite a long way to go.

Wasteserv will shortly be commencing a pilot project to collect organic waste separately from domestic households. Organic waste can be converted into energy. It can also be used to produce compost. In addition, if the collection of organic waste is carried out successfully from all households, it may reduce the contents of the black garbage bag by as much as 50%, signifying a substantial reduction of domestic waste going to landfill. (If catering establishments were to take similar initiatives, the achievable results would be much more significant.)

A proper implementation of rules regulating the waste arising from electric and electronic equipment should hopefully be in place in the coming weeks when responsibility for this waste stream is definitely transferred to the private sector in terms of the extended producer responsibility specified in the EU’s WEEE Directive (WEEE meaning waste from electric and electronic equipment).

It is also essential to address the operation of scrap yards, which are an affront to Malta’s environmental obligations. They are mostly an eyesore, generally a blot on the landscape, as well as being the cause of negative environmental impacts.

Recycling scrap metal (and other materials) is an important economic activity which ensures that resources originally extracted from the earth are kept in use and not discarded as waste. Recycling activity, if properly managed, is an important economic activity which is environmentally friendly.

Managing properly the waste which we generate reduces our environmental impacts and improves our quality of life. In addition, the employment opportunities created are an important source of green jobs.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 20 September 2015

Waste Management politics

scrapyard

“We encourage waste separation in localities. However we recognise that this is not enough. As a country we still lag behind and have failed to reach targets on packaging waste as well as waste generated by electrical and electronic equipment.

It is essential to address the operation of scrapyards. These process waste which is subject to at least three Directives of the EU, namely the WEEE Directive, the End of Life Vehicles Directive and the Batteries Directive. The manner in which scrapyards have been permitted to operate signifies a total disregard of the principles and safeguards listed in the said Directives. The fact that after more than eight years of EU membership we are still discussing these issues signifies the low level of preparedness to shoulder environmental responsibilities resulting from EU adhesion.” (AD’s Electoral Manifesto, pages 89-90, March 2013)

The existence of operational scrapyards is an affront to Malta’s environmental obligations.

In scrapyards one finds discarded vehicles and other objects made primarily of metal  beyond their useful life. There are a number of operational scrapyards in various areas in Malta.  A major one was closed by MEPA some years back in Birżebbuġa. This is now in the process of reopening as an up to standard End of Life Vehicle facility based in Ħal-Far. The relative planning and environmental applications have been processed by MEPA and Malta Enterprise and the facility should be operational in the not too distant future.  There are other scrapyards (large and small) in various parts of the island. They are mostly an eyesore, generally a blot on the landscape as well as being the cause of negative environmental impacts.

Recycling scrap metal (and other materials) is an important economic activity which ensures that resources originally  extracted from the earth are kept in use and not discarded as waste. Recycling activity if properly managed is an important economic activity which is environmentally friendly. Employment created in this type of activity is an important source of green jobs.

Vehicles and equipment beyond its useful life cannot be disposed of haphazardly. Three specific EU Directives,  namely the End of Life Vehicle Directive (ELV), the Batteries Directive and the Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) establish  the responsibilities of EU member states to regulate in detail these specific waste streams.  The objective is to recover metals and other materials which would otherwise go to waste. Their recovery should however be carried out in an environmental friendly manner.

Each and every part of a vehicle or a piece of equipment should be dismantled with particular care being given to the collection of fluids and gases. No such care is afforded in scrapyards.

Similarly it is to be pointed out that the electric and electronic waste directive (WEEE) is not being properly implemented in Malta. This is due to the fact that there is a conflict between the responsibilities spelt out in the Directive and the eco-contribution charged in Malta on electric, electronic and white goods.

The WEEE Directive spells out and applies the responsibility of producers for disposing of the electric and electornic waste generated by their products. It does so to encourage producers to put on the market products which are easily recoverable and which can be recycled without much difficulty and expense. The recovery from consumers of electric/electronic products and white goods beyond their useful life can be carried out an at expense which in terms of the WEEE Directive is to be added to the purchase price. But the situation in Malta is such that the cost of processing the waste generated by electric/electronic products and white goods is already quantified as an eco-contribution. This was fairplay when there was no WEEE Directve in operation. But now producers would have to pay twice for the same service. They pay an eco-contribution on placing the product on the market and then they must pay once more to honour their WEEE committments.

In view of the above the WEEE Directive has not yet been properly implemented in Malta.

It is about time that we get our house in order. The politics of waste is a very important matter which has not yet been given sufficient thought.  Except that is for the siting of waste management faciltiies, which seems to be the only waste issue which has interested the public in recent years.

The Issues Paper published recently by Minister Leo Brincat makes scant reference to the above. Maybe this is because it is a preliminary document preceeeding the actual Waste Management Plan for 2014-20.

A structured discussion on waste policy will certainly be of help. Having a multitiude of public consultation exercises by the different Ministries launched during the summer period is not  good practice. It is an old trick played by those who want to  nominally honour their obligations to consult.  Hopefully when the actual draft Waste Management  Plan 2014-20 is available for consultation we will have ample time to discuss.

published in The Times of Malta, Saturday August 31, 2013

WEEE Responsibility

times_of_malta196x703

published on 23 May 2009

by Carmel Cacopardo

_________________________________________________________

 bulb_52

The Nationalist Party’s and Alternattiva Demokratika’s 2008 electoral manifestos proposed the free distribution of energy-saving light bulbs in order to encourage energy conservation but with a difference!

Prior to that, in London, the then Labour mayor Ken Livingstone had, as part of the London Climate Change Action Plan in January 2008, launched a “light bulb amnesty” as a result of which each London household could exchange a traditional incandescent light bulb for an energy-e fficient one.

The public in Malta should be informed not only of the benefits but also as to the advisable precautions relative to the use of these energy-saving light bulbs or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

The use of CFLs, notwithstanding their price, saves about 75 per cent of electrical energy used for lighting purposes by traditional bulbs.

An educational campaign relative to breakages and disposal of CFLs is essential.

Damage to the CFL can release mercury dust to air. In other countries users have been advised that they are to vacate and ventilate rooms for about 15 minutes when CFL breakages occur. This is essential to avoid inhaling mercury dust. It is imperative that in homes and, in particular, in areas where children and the elderly and/or sick people gather, those in charge are aware as to the measures they should take. Advice is also called for as to the cleaning of the resulting breakages and the manner in which the damaged CFL is to be disposed of.

It is to be borne in mind that, due to their containing about four milligrams of mercury dust per light bulb, CFLs are subject to the provisions of the EU WEEE Directive (Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment). This directive has been transposed into Maltese legislation through Legal Notice 63 of 2007 but it is not yet being implemented.

The EU established the framework for dealing with hazardous waste resulting from electric and electronic equipment and applied thereto the principle of producer responsibility. This means that producers and distributors (irrespective of the selling technique used) are directly responsible for the handling of this type of waste.

The government has the role of a regulator, ensuring that EU legislation is adhered to within Maltese territory. Being an EU member in my view, at least, signifies this much in addition to harping on the availability of EU funds, which assist us in attaining objectives of a better quality of life. The WEEE Directive had to be implemented in various stages between 2004 and 2006 and the Maltese government was in breach of its provisions, so much so that the EU Commission had already initiated infringement procedures against Malta due to the delay in transposing it into Maltese law.

The recently-published update to the Maltese Waste Management Strategy for public consultation postponed once more consideration of the plans for the implementation of the WEEE Directive in Malta.

Within this context, the placing of over one million CFLs in one go on the market without having in place a waste management strategy for hazardous waste is surely not environmentally responsible. While addressing the issue of energy consumption, the government is creating an equally serious problem by encouraging the use of hazardous materials without having first ensured that the required waste management infrastructure is in place and functioning.

The responsibility is not just the government’s. It has to be equally shouldered by producers and distributors who, unless they act fast, may eventually have to carry the can and pay the fines due for not assuming their producer responsibilities. Taxpayers’ monies should not be used to bail out those who have failed to shoulder their responsibilities.

Those who have advised local distributors that the management of hazardous waste is a government responsibility would do well to reconsider their position. This is an area the EU has assigned to the private sector, which must ensure that the impacts of all products it places on the market are addressed. In fact, the WEEE Directive, in addition to responsibility for today’s hazardous waste, also assigns to producers and distributors responsibility for historical waste, that is responsibility for WEEE waste generated prior to the implementation of the directive.

The point at issue is clearly the eco contribution payable on a number of electric and electronic products. Maltese business is correct in complaining that it has been shouldered with a double responsibility: responsibility for WEEE waste and simultaneous payment of eco contribution. This, however, does not exonerate businesses from putting in place a collection system for WEEE waste (including CFLs).

By failing to revisit the eco contribution regime, the government is obstructing business from moving on to shoulder its producer responsibilities. Further procrastination will not make matters any easier. It is in everybody’s interest that business conforms to its WEEE responsibilities and for that to happen the government must get out of the way.

Strateġija nejja

 l-orizzontippubblikat it-Tlieta 14 t’April 2009

minn Carmel Cacopardo

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Id-dokument li ppubblika l-Gvern li permezz tiegħu jipproponi li jaġġorna l-istrateġija dwar l-iskart jippre­żenta proposta nejja. Hi nejja għax filwaqt li fiha ingredjenti tajbin ma tasalx biex tfassal triq addattata biex l-iskart li niġġe­neraw fid-djar tagħna jonqos.

Il-proposta tqiegħed l-inċi­nerazzjoni fiċ-ċentru tal-ħidma biex ikun immaniġġjat l-iskart. Dan fil-fehma tiegħi hu żbaljat. Żbaljat mhux għax l-inċineraz­zjoni għandha tkun imwarrba. Xejn minn dan. Imma żbaljat għax biex l-inċinerazzjoni tkun għodda addattata trid tinkwadra ruħha fi strateġija li tagħti pri­jorità lil dik l-għodda ambjentali u fiskali li jħajru n-nies inaqqsu l-iskart li jipproduċu.

Kompożizzjoni

L-ewwel pass f’din it-triq kellu jkun li jkun eżaminat bir-reqqa minn x’hiex huwa magħmul l-iskart iġġenerat fid-djar. Id-dokument ippubblikat mill-Gvern ma jagħmel l-ebda referenza għal dan. Fil-fatt fir-rapport imħejji mill-Awstrijaċi dwar l-inċinerazzjoni, intitolat “Waste to Energy in Malta – Sce²nar²i²os for Implementation”, jirreferu għal stħarriġ li sar fl-1989 minn Vince Gauci, u studju ieħor tal-Uffiċċju Nazzjonali tal-Istatistika ta’ Mal²ta fl-2003. Ma jidher li hemm l-ebda informaz­zjoni iktar riċenti.

It-tip ta’ skart li niġġeneraw jinbidel biż-żmien skond l-użanzi li naddottaw u l-mod kif ngħixu. Pereżempju l-ammont ta’ plastik iġġenerat fl-iskart jidher li qiegħed jikber kontin­wament u wieħed mill-kontri­buturi għal dan hi d-dipendenza tagħna dejjem tiżdied fuq ikel ippakkjat fil-plastik. Dan huwa riżultat mhux biss tal-ħajja dej­jem iktar mgħaġġla imma ukoll tar-rwol dejjem jikber tas-supermarkets il-kbar fil-kummerċ ta’ oġġetti tal-ikel.

Ir-riċerka biex issostni l-aġġornament tal-politika dwar l-iskart f’Malta hi neċessarja, iżda hi nieqsa. Kif tista’ tfassal politika li twieġeb għall-ħtiġijiet tal-lum jekk il-qagħda attwali m’hix imkejla b’mod adekwat u frekwenti? F’pajjiżi oħra dan isir b’mod regolari u jindunaw b’dan il-mod b’affarijiet li jkunu qed jinbidlu minn kmieni b’mod li jkunu jistgħu jilqgħu għalihom.

Fir-Renju Unit kmieni fix-xahar ta’ Frar 2009, ġie ppub­blikat rapport mill-Local Government Association Ingliża, intitolat “War on Waste: Food Packaging Study Wave 3”. F’dan ir-rapport żie eżaminat is-sehem tas-Supermarket Chains kollha fl-Ingilterra għall-ġenerazzjoni tal-iskart. Wieħed mis-suġġe­rimenti li joħroġ minn riflessjoni dwar dan l-istudju huwa jekk l-ippakkjar tal-ikel, tant meħtieġ minħabba l-iġjene, ikunx iktar għaqli li jsir fi plastik biode­gradabbli. Plastik ta’ dan it-tip imbagħad ma jkollux bżonn ta’ inċineratur iżda jkun jista’ jiġi pproċessat flimkien mal-iskart organiku l-ieħor.

Jidher li l-Gvern f’Malta għad ma eżaminax din il-materja. Il-grupp ta’ strateġija dwar l-iskart lanqas biss jidher li xamm ir-relevanza tagħha għall-aġġorna­ment tal-istrateġija!

Il-miri

Tajjeb li nistaqsu fejn irridu naslu? Hemm diversi miri li rridu nilħqu. Fuq quddiem nett għandna nimmiraw biex l-iskart jonqos. Qed issir ħafna ħidma biex l-iskart li jintrema jonqos, u l-frott dwar din il-ħidma qed jinkiseb bil-mod bl-għarfien dejjem iktar tan-nies tal-ħtieġa li nirriċiklaw. Imma li nirriċiklaw għalkemm huwa tajjeb mhuwiex biżżejjed.

Meta s-supermarkets joffru prezzijiet irħas dan jagħmluh għal diversi raġunijiet. Jixtru bil-kwantità u jagħfsu lill-pro­dutturi għall-prezzijiet orħos, kif ukoll inaqqsu kemm jifilħu x-xogħol bl-idejn. Meta jsir dan jonqsu konsiderevolment l-ispejjeż tagħhom. Huwa komdu ħafna li tieħu pakkett minn fuq l-ixkaffa jew mill-freezer tas-su²per²mar²ket u dritt għal ġot-‘trol²ley’ mingħajr ħtieġa ta’ kju biex jintiżen il-ġobon jew il-perżut! Parti mill-ispejjeż li s-supermarket jiffranka tispiċċa ġġorrhom is-sistema tal-immaniġġjar tal-iskart għax jiġi iġġenerat iktar skart tal-plastik. Dan nistgħu nevitawh b’żewġ modi. Fejn dan hu possibli nistgħu nużaw inqas plastik li jiġġenera l-ikel ippak­kjat billi nixtru iktar ikel frisk. Apparti li huwa iktar sustanzjuż jikkontribwixxi ukoll kemm għall-ġenerazzjoni ta’ inqas skart, kif ukoll biex tissaħħaħ l-industrija agrikola f’Malta.

Il-Gvern iżda jista’ jinsisti li l-ippakkjar jibda jsir fi plastik biodegradabbli. Hemm diversi miżuri li jista’ jieħu biex dan isir. Għax mhux sewwa li biex tas-supermarkets ikunu kompe­tittivi jitfgħu l-piż fuq is-servizzi pubbliċi li jridu jerfgħu piż addizzjonali ta’ skart iġġenerat li qiegħed dejjem jikber.

L-istrateġija aġġornata dan kollu ma tikkunsidrahx.

Skart elettriku u elettroniku

L-aġġornament tal-istrateġija tipposponi li tħares lejn l-iskart elettriku u elettroniku. Din hi materja li bħala pajjiż għandna obbligi x’nimplimentaw kif jirriżulta mid-Direttiva tal-Unjoni Ewropeja WEEE (Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment). Id-Direttiva WEEE titfa’ l-obbligu biex apparat elettriku jew elettroniku li spiċċa l-użu tiegħu jinġabar minn min jipproduċih jew l-aġenti tiegħu. Għalkemm l-avviż legali dwar dan ġie ppubblikat żmien ilu għad hawn ħafna tkaxkir tas-saqajn biex din id-direttiva tkun implimentata. Ir-raġuni għal dan hi ċara. Fil-waqt li l-Unjoni Ew­ropeja a bażi tal-prinċipju ta’ ‘pro­ducer responsibility’ tinsisti li min jipproduċi dan l-apparat għandu jerfa’ r-responsabbiltà kollha għall-iskart li jiġġenera, fl-istess ħin permezz tal-Liġi dwar l-Eko-Kontribuzzjoni, il-Gvern assuma din il-funzjoni huwa minflok is-settur privat. Għal dan l-iskop qed jiġbor l-eko-kontribuzzjoni biex jagħmel tajjeb għall-ispejjeż. Fil-mument li d-Direttiva WEEE tkun implimentata parti mill-Liġi tal-Eko-Kontribuzzjoni jkollha tispiċċa jew tkun riveduta minħabba li min ibiegħ inkella jkun suġġett għal spiża doppja – l-eko-kontribuzzjoni u l-ispiża biex jiġbor u jipproċessa l-iskart elettriku u elettroniku. Jidher li l-Gvern s’issa ma sabx soluz­zjo­ni. Allura jipposponi.

Sadanittant dan l-iskart m’hu­wiex se joqgħod jistenna li l-Gvern jiddeċiedi x’se jagħmel. Min irid jibdel friġġ jew televixin xorta “jeħles” mill-friġġ jew mit-televixin il-qadim. Uħud mill-friġġijiet il-qodma qed jinġabru bis-sistema tal-iskart goff im­ħaddma mill-kunsilli lokali. Oħrajn qed jinġabru minn tal-ħanut li jbiegħu friġġ ġdida. Imma bosta oħra qed isibu ruħhom fl-iscrapyards imxerrda mad-diversi partijiet ta’ Malta. Dawn l-iscrapyards li jekk organizzati sewwa jistgħu jkunu ta’ ġid u kontribut fl-istrateġija dwar l-iskart ma jissemmew imkien fid-dokument li l-Gvern ippubblika għad-diskussjoni!

Il-prijorità

L-istrateġija tiffoka fuq il-ġenerazzjoni tal-elettriku mill-iskart. Dan fih innifsu hu tajjeb. Imma kif tfassal l-aġġornament tal-istrateġija ma jagħti l-ebda importanza lill-istampa kollha. Qed tingħata l-impressjoni li billi jinħaraq parti mill-iskart se nsolvu ħafna problemi. Veru li se nnaqqsu r-rata li biha timtela l-miżbla. Veru ukoll li se niġġe­neraw madwar 3% tal-elettriku minn sorsi li kieku kienu jintre­mew. Dan hu tajjeb. Imma meta tiffoka b’daqstant qawwa fuq l-inċinerazzjoni bħala soluz­zjoni qiegħed jingħata l-messaġġ żbaljat li m’għadux iktar impor­tanti li nindirizzaw iżjed ħeġġa u inizjattivi biex jonqos il-ġene­razzjoni tal-iskart. Dan hu l-mes­saġġ li joħroġ meta d-dokument ippubblikat jonqos milli jittratta u jaġġorna l-mod kif nistgħu nnaq­qsu l-ġenerazzjoni tal-iskart.

Il-messaġġ joħroġ iktar ċar meta jissemmew pajjiżi oħra bħala prova li l-inċinerazzjoni tista’ ssir b’suċċess. Ma jingħadx imma li uħud minn dawn il-pajjiżi għandhom suċċessi kbar fil-mod kif jindirizzaw l-iskart: kemm jipprovaw inaqqsu l-ammont iġġenerat kif ukoll jir­nexxilhom jirriċiklaw ħafna iktar skart milli wasalna għalih aħna bħala pajjiż. Xhieda ta’ dan hi l-istatistika komparattiva dwar l-iskart fl-Unjoni Ewropeja ippub­blikata riċentement.

L-istrateġija għandha tinħema iktar. Irid ikun ċar li l-prijorità tal-ħidma għandha tkun li l-iskart iġġenerat jonqos. Imma dan għandu jirrifletti ruħu f’inizjattivi li jwasslu biex din il-prijorità titwettaq.

Għalhekk il-proposta hi nejja għax teħtieġ ħafna iktar ħsieb. Jekk min ħa ħsieb ifassal l-aġ­ġornament tal-istrateġija dwar l-iskart ikun irid, m’għandi l-ebda dubju li bosta huma dawk li lesti jagħtu kontribut. Għax fuq l-iskop qed naqblu. Li jonqos hu li flimkien infasslu t-triq li biha nistgħu naslu.

Waste update : back to the drawing board

times_of_malta196x703

by Carmel Cacopardo

published on Saturday February 28, 2009

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The Solid Waste Management Strategy update published recently, identifies a zero waste scenario as a long-term aim. It refers to a number of studies commissioned and proceeds to a selective use of conclusions from the said studies, which are still under wraps.

A Situation Audit of the strategy was carried out in 2005. Yet, the only conclusion that has found its way into the proposed update is a statement on the practical non-existence of the interministerial committee set up to coordinate the strategy’s implementation across government. The full Situation Audit should see the light of day. The public has the right to be informed as to the manner in which targets were attained and the reasons as to why others were missed.

The update is incomplete; it postpones updating the strategy on hazardous waste, promising instead a Topic Paper in the future. The management of hazardous waste includes the implementation of the WEEE Directive (Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment), which is way behind schedule.

Producers and their representatives in terms of the WEEE Directive assume full responsibility for the waste generated by their products. Yet, the government, through the simultaneous application of the eco-contribution and the WEEE Directive, has placed them in a situation where they have to pay twice for the handling of electric and electronic waste: The payment of an eco-contribution and shouldering producer responsibility in terms of EU legislation. The result is that while, on paper, the WEEE Directive in Malta has been transposed, in practice its implementation is being obstructed. It is an area of responsibility that EU legislation assigns specifically to the private sector, yet the government is reluctant to lose a substantial chunk of eco-contribution revenues and is consequently applying the brakes.

The regulation of scrap yards does not feature in the update. They are required in order to recycle scrap metal. However, they should operate within a regulatory framework, in particular in conformity to the WEEE and the ELV (End of Life Vehicle) Directives. Recently, it was reported that, during testimony submitted in a planning appeal, concerning the enforcement order relative to the Ta’ Brolli scrap yard in Birzebbuga, it was revealed that part of its business originates from the custom of government departments and corporations!

Some scrap yards process scrap from disused refrigerators! Processing? They just crush them, as a result releasing refrigeration gases to air. These gases are CFCs (chloroflorocarbons), contributors to the depletion of the ozone layer. In a regulated environment in terms of the WEEE Directive, processing disused refrigerators for waste would include the careful collection of the CFCs as a first step. Instead, some Maltese scrap yards are contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer in contrast to the provisions of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which Malta has bound itself to observe and implement.

The proposal for an updated strategy encourages a policy favouring waste incineration. It proposes that the use of bio-digestion to convert waste to energy is complemented by a policy favouring incineration. Specifically, it proposes a waste to energy incinerator to be sited at Delimara next to the power station. This could also mean that on waste recovery sites (currently in operation or projected) the two technologies could co-exist.

Incineration is undoubtedly a waste management tool. In my opinion, it should however, only be used as the last option.

Relying on incineration to produce electricity would, on the plus side, reduce required landfill space and the fuel bill. It would still, however, contribute to the production of greenhouse gases and, hence, cannot be described as a source of clean energy. On the minus side, it negates the need to reduce waste generation and produces other possibly toxic emissions, which would vary dependent on the composition of the RDF (refuse derived fuel).

The regulation of these emissions is normally established through a permit issued by Mepa in terms of the EU Directive on Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control. The acceptability or otherwise of an incineration facility even as a tool of the last resort would in my view result from two points: The quality of emissions control imposed by Mepa through the conditions established in the IPPC permit, and the enforceability of these conditions.

If the manner in which the Marsa incinerator has operated in the past months is a reliable indicator on the workings of Mepa and Wasteserv, this is sufficient on its own to discard the incinerator option even as a tool of last resort.

These are just a few of the points indicating reasons as to why the proposed waste strategy update needs to go back to the drawing board. Together with the fact that a Strategic Environmental Assessment has not to date been carried out, this is clear evidence of its poor quality. Such a document cannot lead to a fruitful public discussion.