Green gaps in the Budget

The green gaps in the Budget speech cannot be patched up with the millions of euros spread in the pockets of both those in need as well as those who are well off.

Edward Scicluna’s Budget speech last Monday was far too long. Yet in its over 100 pages it missed addressing a number of environmental issues on which different government spokespersons pontificate throughout the rest of the year: confirming that they just pay lip-service to the issues.

The lack of good environmental governance has considerable economic and social impact as is evident to one and all.

While the Budget proposals strengthen the social safety net, it is to be underlined that quality of life is not measured solely in terms of financial metrics. Throwing euros at problems does not lead to any solutions.

The budget speech correctly emphasises the necessity of waste recycling. Unfortunately, the Minister for Finance did not explain how this effort should be integrated into a circular economy, even though the Environment Minister repeatedly boasts of how supposedly the move towards a circular economy is a priority for government. In the entire speech, the circular economy is not mentioned once. Nor does the Economic Survey dwell on the matter or even faintly refer to the matter.

This raises the suspicion that government has lost the plot and does not have any policy ideas on such an important aspect of the economy with its social, economic and environmental effects.

The Budget speech emphasises the energy generation potential from waste incineration which requires large volumes of waste in order to be viable. But the budget speech is silent on how this fits in with the stated commitment to actually reduce the volume of waste.

The government is trying to square the circle; on the one hand it wants to reduce waste but on the other hand it needs more and more waste to make its huge incinerator viable.
The Budget speech also gives the impression that it addresses important aspects which impact the quality of life when in fact offers only half-baked and token solutions.

Among them is the point on water policy. The speech mentions incentives to encourage repairs of existing wells but then it avoids altogether a real and focused effort to address the acute issue of dwellings built without water cisterns, with the consequence that water ends up in the public sewers or flooding our streets.

Developers are let of the hook even when roads are flooded and sewers are overflowing, not to mention the sheer waste of perfectly good water.

The same can be said of the supposed solutions to traffic congestion. The Budget speech refers to the financial incentives available to encourage the use of alternative modes of transport, but here again it ignores the roots of the problem. The government spending of millions of euros for the development of the road infrastructure will only increase traffic congestion, thereby squeezing users of alternative means of transport off the roads.

It is useless to incentivize the purchase of bicycles and pedelecs when there is no investment in adequate infrastructure to ensure that people can commute safely using these important alternative means of transport, which actually help to decrease congestion in our roads.

Over one year ago the Prime Minister had taken a leaf from Alternattiva Demokratika’s electoral manifesto and declared that the government will determine a cut-off date by which new cars will need to be electrically driven or possibly of a hybrid nature.

This declaration had heralded the issue of electrification of transport on our roads addressing two major issues: the quality of air and the contribution of transport emissions to climate change. This, once implemented, would be a substantial contribution to the decarbonisation of the Maltese economy. We are none the wiser on government plans after listening to or reading the budget speech.

Clearly financial parameters are not the only indicators of our quality of life. The green gaps in the budget speech need plugging at the soonest.

published in The Sunday Times of Malta : Sunday 28 October 2018

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L-Inċinerazzjoni: l-prezz akkumulat tal-inkompetenza

Il-Ministru Josè Herrera, f’isem il-Gvern, għadu kif ippubblika r-rapport intitolat Technical Report on the setting up of a Waste to Energy Facility in Malta. Qabel ma ntalab dan ir-rapport, il-Gvern kien diġá ħa d-deċiżjoni politika favur l-inċinerazzjoni. Fil-fatt, fid-daħla għar-rapport il-Ministru Herrera jgħid li din id-deċiżjoni kuraġġjuża (bold decision) ittieħdet mill-Gvern f’Lulju 2017.

Jiġifieri r-rapport ma jweġibx il-mistoqsija dwar jekk għandniex immorru għall-inċinerazzjoni: jiffoka dwar kif dan jista’ u għandu jsir.

Ma hemm l-ebda dubju li teżisti t-teknoloġija li tagħmilha possibli li l-impatti tal-inċinerazzjoni jkunu l-minimu possibli . Il-punt, imma, mhux dwar jekk l-inċinerazzjoni hiex possibli li ssir imma jekk hix l-għażla meħtieġa. Fl-opinjoni tiegħi mhix għażla addattata, imma l-alternattivi għaliha jeħtieġu ż-żmien biex ikunu żviluppati. Sfortunatament nafu li tul is-snin ma kien hemm l-ebda volontá politika biex dawn l-alternattivi jkunu żviluppati u jitħallew jaħdmu sewwa.

Il-Pjan għall-Immaniġjar tal-Iskart tal-gżejjer Maltin kien aġġornat fl-2014: dakinhar kien żviluppat pjan biex jitwettaq fuq medda ta’ sitt snin. Dan il-pjan tal-2014 jidentifika l-mod kif għandna nimmaniġjaw l-iskart li niġġeneraw. Fil-fatt jemfasizza li t-triq li għandna nimxu fiha hi dik li nieħdu ħsieb tar-riżorsi. Dan ifisser li l-pajjiż għandu jiffoka biex jirkupra r-riżorsi u mhux jiddistruġġihom biex jiġġenera l-enerġija minnhom. Għandna nżommu f’moħħna li l-enerġija meħtieġa biex dawn ir-riżorsi jinħadmu tiżboq bil-kbir l-enerġija ġġenerata meta dawn jinħarqu. Dan hu dokumentat fi studji li saru u jkunu aġġornati kontinwament.

Meta neżaminaw dan il-pjan li kien approvat mill-amministrazzjoni preżenti, imkien ma nsibu emfasi fuq l-inċinerazzjoni. Pjuttost li hemm emfasi fuq is-separazzjoni tal-iskart, r-riċiklaġġ u diversi miri dwar dan li jridu jintlaħqu. Flimkien ma dan hemm il-mira identifikata mill-Gvern li sas-sena 2050 l-ebda skart ma jintrema iktar fil-miżbliet. Is-sena 2050 hi s-sena ta’ skart żero.

Il-mistoqsija waħidha tiġi: x’mar ħażin bejn l-2014 (meta tfassal il-pjan u ġew identifikati l-miri) u l-2017 meta ittieħdet id-deċiżjoni favur l-inċinerazzjoni? It-tweġiba ċara hi li l-Wasteserve ma kienitx kapaċi tilħaq il-miri u bħala riżultat ta’ dan marret għas-soluzzjoni l-faċli: l-inċinerazzjoni. X’utilitá hemm li nippubblikaw dawn l-istrateġiji jekk ma l-ewwel diffikultá inwarrbuhom u narmuhom?

Id-“deċiżjoni kuraġġuża” li jirreferi għaliha l-Ministru Herrera, l-inċinerazzjoni, hi riżultat ta’ ippjanar imgerfex, ippjanar mil-lum għal-ghada. Hu ovvju li l-ispażju għall-miżbliet huwa limitat. Imma s-soluzzjonijiet prattiċi u realistiċi, imfassla b’mod ċar fil-Pjan għall-Immaniġjar tal-Iskart ġew injorati tul is-snin. L-għażla reali, la kienet u l-anqas ma hi, bejn iktar miżbliet u l-inċinerazzjoni, imma dwar kemm aħna kapaċi nilħqu l-miri tagħna stess dwar ir-riċiklaġġ u t-tnaqqis tal-iskart. Meta l-pjan dwar l-immaniġjar tal-iskart kien imfassal kien meqjus bħala l-għodda addattata biex nimmaniġjaw ir-riżorsi. Dan kollu in konsistenza mal-politika tal-Unjoni Ewropea dwar l-iskart, ir-riżorsi, l-ekonomija ċirkulari u dokumenti politiċi oħra tal-Kummissjoni Ewropea.

Mir-rapport tekniku li ppubblika l-Ministru Josè Herrera hu ċar li flimkien mal-inċinerazzjoni ser ikun hemm bżonn ukoll ta’ “kampanja aggressiva biex ikunu indirizzati l-miri ta’ riċiklaġġ stabiliti fid-Direttivi diversi tal-UE kif ukoll fil-Pjan għall-Imanigġjar tal-iskart tal-Gżejjer Maltin.” Din hi konferma bil-miktub li l-inċinerazzjoni hi l-prezz li rridu nħallsu għall-inkompetenza akkumulata fl-immaniġjar tal-iskart fil-gżejjer tagħna.

Imma minn dak li smajna fil-Parlament matul il-ġimgħa li għaddiet jidher li tul is-snin, il-Ministeru tal-Ambjent iktar kien interessat fl-impiegi ġġenerati mill-Wasteserve milli li jkunu onorati l-miri tar-riċiklaġġ. L-emails li ġemmgħet il-Wasteserve qieshom jindikaw li dan hu l-iktar importanti fost il-ħidmiet tagħha!

Ovvjament dejjem hemm l-inċinerazzjoni biex taħraq il-problemi akkumulati tal-iskart. Għax dik hi s-soluzzjoni l-faċli.

 

Ippubblikat f’Illum : Il-Ħadd 11 ta’ Marzu 2018

 

Incineration: the accumulated cost of incompetence

Minister Josè Herrera, on behalf of the government, has recently published the Technical Report on the setting up of a Waste to Energy facility in Malta. Prior to the commissioning of the report, the government had already taken the political decision that it should go for incineration.

In fact, Minister Herrera states in the introduction to the report that the “bold decision” was taken by government in July 2017.

As a consequence, the published report addresses the “how” and not the “if” question on incineration.

There is no doubt that the technology exists to ensure that the direct impacts of the incineration of waste are reduced to a minimum. The point at issue is, however, not on its possibility but on whether it is the desired option – and in my opinion it is not.  However, unfortunately the alternatives to incineration take time to be developed and there has been no political will over the years to implement the realistic identified alternatives.

The Waste Management Plan for the Maltese Islands was updated in 2014 and a six year roadmap was then plotted. This 2014 roadmap identified the preferred waste management options. The sub-title of this Waste Management Plan was “A Resource Management Approach”, which signifies that Malta’s waste management options should be focused on recovering resources from waste and not on destroying them to recover energy. It should be borne in mind that the energy required to manufacture the resources gobbled up by an incinerator is substantially more than that released when they are burned.

Going through this plan, approved by the current administration, one does not find any particular emphasis on incineration. Instead, there is an emphasis on waste separation, recycling and the identification of the related targets, to the extent that the year 2050 was identified by the government as a target by which to achieve zero waste to landfill.

The question to ask is: what went wrong between 2014 (when the targets were identified) and 2017 when the decision to go for incineration was taken? The clear, unequivocal answer is that Wasteserve was not capable of implementing its targets, and, as a result went for the easy solution: incineration. What is the use of publishing strategies of this sort if, when the first difficulties are encountered, they are dumped?

The “bold decision” referred to by Minister Herrera – the adoption of the incineration option – is the result of  management-by-crisis in the waste sector. Obviously, there is little available space for more landfills. However, the only practical and realistic options detailed in the Waste Management Plan were not followed adequately over the years.

The real choice was never between landfill or incineration but on whether we are capable of meeting our own recycling and waste reduction targets. When the waste management plan was drawn up it was viewed as a tool to achieve resource management. This is in line with various EU policies on waste, resource management, circular economy, and various other policy documents issued by the EU Commission.

It is clear from perusing the Technical Report published by Minister Josè Herrera that the incineration options being adopted must be “carried out in parallel with an aggressive campaign to address the targets for recycling, established in various EU Directives and the Waste Management Plan for the Maltese islands.” This is a written confirmation that the incineration option is the cost of an accumulated incompetence in the management of waste in our islands.

From what we have heard in Parliament during the past week it seems that, over the years, the Environment Ministry has been more interested in the employment posts generated by Wasteserve than in honouring recycling targets. The accumulated emails at Wasteserve seem to indicate that this is part of its mission statement!

Of course there is always incineration to burn our accumulated waste problems! It is an easy way out.

Published in the Malta Independent on Sunday : 11 March 2018

Karmenu Vella and the plastic tax

Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, is enthusiastic about the possibility of a plastic tax being introduced throughout the EU. In his view, this tax – if properly designed – could be one of a number of tools for delivering environmental objectives as well as providing budgetary income. Planet Earth is drowning in plastic.

Vella made these comments in an interview published on Euractive last week on the subject of the EU’s new plastics strategy.

We have been there before and maybe it is time to consider the matter once more in Malta. Some 10 years ago in Malta we had an environmental tax which was known as an “eco-contribution”. It was a valid proposal, badly designed and arrogantly implemented. The lessons learnt from that exercise could, if properly analysed, lead to the development of effective policy tools addressing the generation of waste in the Maltese islands. Policies should be well thought out and not developed as a result of panic – as is clearly the case with the current government incineration proposal.

Ten years ago, the eco-contribution tried to address the generation of plastic waste including “single-use plastic”. This is one of the primary targets of the EU plastics strategy published on the 16 January.

Its title is very clear : A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy. Plastic is ubiquitous: it is present in all aspects of our economy and our daily lives. The plastics we use must be such that they can be re-used rather than thrown away. It is an important resource which can be put to good use rather than thrown away or incinerated.

It is for this purpose that the newly-published plastics strategy lays the foundations for a new plastics economy where “the design and production of plastics and plastic products fully respect reuse, repair and recycling needs and more sustainable materials are developed and promoted”.

A plastics economy would definitely not send “waste plastic” to the incinerator to be converted into energy. Even Malta’s latest version of the Waste Management Strategy, approved in 2014, emphasises that our approach to waste must be one based on the sustainable use of resources and, in line with the EU waste hierarchy, gives priority to recycling over incineration.

In fairness, it has to be said that our government’s advisors on incineration have already sounded the alarm. Apparently this has not, as yet, been understood – either by the government or by the Opposition. It would be pertinent to point out that the Special Assignment Report by Jaspers dated 23 February 2017 on a Waste to Energy (WtE) project in Malta specifically emphasises that “it would be difficult to justify a WtE facility that is not based on low waste growth and high recycling”.

Rather than talking about incineration, it is about time we discussed in detail the implementation of our Waste Management Strategy in order to identify why it has not to date succeeded in increasing Malta’s recycling rates. What initiatives need to be taken in order that the waste generated in Malta is minimised?

Malta’s waste management strategy, now complemented by the EU’s Plastic Strategy, is definitely a much better roadmap than the documentation encouraging incineration. And what about our commitments to encourage a “circular economy” : gone with the wind?

Karmenu Vella’s plastics tax is food for thought.

It is about time that Wasteserve is managed properly. As a first step, it should stick to its brief and seek to implement carefully the Waste Management Strategy, which establishes the year 2050 as the year when we should achieve a “Zero Waste Target”. This target will not be achieved through the use of incineration but through a policy encouraging waste minimisation as well as recycling.

This is not just a task for the Minister responsible for the Environment. The Minister responsible for the Development of the Economy also has a very important role to play in achieving a successful implementation of the Waste Management Strategy.

Unfortunately he is apparently completely absent.

Zero waste municipalities in Europe are continuously indicating that an 80 to 90 per cent recycling rate is achievable. The fact that Malta’s recycling rate is, at best, estimated at around 12 per cent, is a clear indication that there is room for substantial improvement – with or without Karmenu Vella’s plastics tax.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 28 January 2018

 

Zero waste : a 2050 target

Malta’s Waste Management Strategy for 2014-20 establishes the year 2050 as the one by which our society should achieve a zero waste target. In fact the first of four principles of Malta’s national waste policy is specifically: “to reduce waste and to prevent waste occurring, with a view to achieving a zero-waste society by 2050” (page 14 of Malta’s strategy).

It is pertinent to point out that the Zero Waste International Alliance has defined zero waste as follows: “Zero Waste is a goal that is both pragmatic and visionary, to guide people to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water, or air that may be a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

A Zero waste philosophy is thus a strategy and a set of practical tools seeking to eliminate waste and not just to manage it. The point at issue is how to go about reducing and eventually eliminating the waste that we generate.

This is basically a cultural change, waking up from our slumbers and realising that we live in a world where resources are finite. It is about time that we address our ecological deficit: from which there is no bale-out option.

There is one basic first step in the road towards zero waste which should be carefully planned and managed and this is a meticulous recycling strategy. Zero waste municipalities in Europe are continuously indicating that an 80 to 90 per cent recycling rate is achievable. The fact that Malta’s recycling rate is, at best, estimated at around 12 per cent, shows that there is room for substantial improvement: a seven-fold increase in Malta’s recycling rate.

How can this be brought about?

A first step would be to discard the apparently easy solutions which lead nowhere. Government’s proposed incineration policy, as a result of which 40 per cent of the waste generated will be burned, is a policy that seeks to manage waste and does away with the target of reducing and eventually eliminating its generation. The very fact that incineration is being proposed signifies a failure in the implementation of the waste management strategy just three years after its last revision, in 2014.

A second step would be to ensure consistency in waste policy. Malta’s Waste Management Strategy is aptly sub-titled ‘A Resource Management Approach’. By no stretch of the imagination can Malta’s proposed incineration policy be deemed to be consistent with such an approach. It is, in my view, just a panic reaction to the fact that there is no more space available for landfills.

The issue involved is very straightforward: can we deliver on our own target of a zero waste society by 2050? In planning to achieve this objective, each Minister has to be a Minister for the Environment, as each Ministry has a role in preventing or re-using the waste generated by the different economic activities. It is certainly a headache not only for Environment Minister José Herrera, but also for all the other Ministers, in particular Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Minister for the Economy Chris Cardona.

In analysing waste management strategy targets achieved to date, it is not only Wasteserve that should be in the dock. The Minister responsible for the Economy has a duty to give account as to what measures and initiatives are in hand to develop the circular economy. It is the point where the paths of environment policy and economic policy cross, and rhetoric has to give precedence to results achieved or in the pipeline to be achieved.

Likewise, it is about time the Tourism Ministry seriously addresses the waste generated by hotels, bars and restaurants. This is an area that has been neglected for several years and is creating considerable difficulties in various parts of the Maltese islands, especially those along the coastline.

It is about time we realised that the implementation of an environment policy is not to be restricted to the corridors of the Environment Ministry: it is an activity that should be carried out by each and every Ministry.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday: 26 November 2017

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

Il-Kunsilli Lokali : qed nagħtu kas tagħhom ?

 

Nhar is-Sibt kien ta’pjaċir għalija li nindirizza l-laqgha plenarja tal-Kunsilliera Lokali li tkun organizzata kull sena mill-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali. Din is-sena din il-laqgħa saret fil-Lukanda Corinthia ġewwa Ħ’Attard.

Osservajt illi fid-dokument konsultattiv tal-Istrateġija Nazzjonali dwar l-adattament għall-Impatti tal-Klima l-Kunsilli Lokali la jissemmew u l-anqas jidher li hemm rwol maħsub għalihom.

Meta nqiesu illi uħud mill-impatti tal-klima jolqtu direttament lill-lokalitajiet dan jistona. Ġibt l-eżempju tal-kapaċita tal-infrastruttura tat-toroq tagħna li tilqa’ għal bidla fl-intensita’ u l-frekwenza tax-xita.  Xi ħaġa li naraw b’għajnejna ta’ spiss, kull meta jkollna maltempata mhux tas-soltu kif kellna reċentement.

Għad hawn awtoritajiet u kummissjonijiet maħtura mill-Gvern li m’humiex konxji biżżejjed tar-rwol importanti li għandhom il-Kunsilli Lokali. Din il-Kummissjoni dwar il-Klima hi waħda minnhom.

F’Birżebbuġa per eżempju kellu jkun l-intervent tas-Segretarju Parlmentari Chris Said biex il-MEPA tieqaf min-negozjati  li kienet għaddejja mal-Port Ħieles dwar il-kundizzjonijiet ta’ permess ambjentali. Dan sar minħabba li dawn in-negozjati kienu għaddejjin mingħajr l-involviment tal-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Birżebbuġa. Issa li l-Kunsill ġie involut in-negozjati bdew mill-ġdid u qed jiġu ndirizzati issues li qabel mhux neċessarjament li kienu qed jitqiesu bl-istess profondita’.

Hemm iżda eżempji oħra li jixhdu illi mhux il-Kunsilli Lokali kollha huma impenjati bl-istess mod.

Meta l–MEPA ħarget il-permess għall-inċineratur tal-biċċerija il-Kunsilli Lokali tal-Marsa u r-Raħal Ġdid ġew mogħtija id-dritt li a spejjes tal-Wasteserve jistabilixxu sistema alternattva għall-monitoraġġ tal-arja fl-inħawi, kif ukoll d-dritt l jqabbdu espert li jgħinhom biex jifhmu l-informazzjoni li tkun ippubblikata dwar l-emissjonijiet. Il-parti relevanti tal-permess fil-fatt tgħid hekk :

”   1.3.2     Public access to emission data (most recent half hour average values and daily average values plus results from the most recent discontinuous measurements) shall be enabled via Internet.

1.3.3     The Marsa and Paola Local Councils may, jointly and in agreement with MEPA, establish an independent ambient air monitoring system covering particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides, as well as any other parameters that may be agreed with MEPA, at the expense of the permit holder.

1.3.4     The Marsa and Paola Local Councils may, in agreement with MEPA, jointly appoint an independent expert to assist in the interpretation of the emission data made publicly available pursuant to condition 1.3.2.”

Huwa ċar mill-kritika li ssir għall-operazzjoni ta’ dan l-inċineratur illi dawn iż-żewġ Kunsilli Lokali għadhom m’humiex konxji minn dan id-dritt li għandhom u s’issa jidher li m’għamlux użu minnu.

Jidher illi hemm bżonn illi l-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali tgħin lil dawn il-Kunsilli Lokali u oħrajn bħalhom biex jiżviluppaw il-kapaċita tagħhom biex ikunu jistgħu jkunu ta’ servizz aħjar.

Strateġija nejja

 l-orizzontippubblikat it-Tlieta 14 t’April 2009

minn Carmel Cacopardo

___________________________________________________________________ 

 

 
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.

Żjara minn AD fl-inċineratur tal-Marsa

 marsa-incinerator

 

Dal-għodu delegazzjoni ta’ AD għamlet żjara fl-inċineratur tal-Marsa. L-istedina kienet saret mill-Ministru Pullicino waqt Bondi+ ta’ ħmistax ilu, nhar it-23 ta’ Frar 2009. L-istedina kont ilqajtha mill-ewwel.

 

Uffiċjali tal-Wastserv flimkien mat-tekniċi inkarigati ill-inċineratur tal-Marsa dawruna mal-faċilita u fissrulna l-mod kif dan jaħdem kif ukoll l-aġġustamenti li saru u li għad qed isiru fl-impjant.

 

L-inċineratur kien ippjanat biex jieħu skart iġġenerat mill-biċċerija. Imma iżjed tard l-idea ibidlet biex żdied ukoll skart kliniku kif ukoll skart industrijali.

 

L-ewwel mistoqsija : l-iskart kliniku jinkludi skart radjuattiv. It-tweġiba hi le. Imma fl-impjant hemm strumenti li bihom jista’ jiġi vverifikat jekk l-iskart kliniku jkunx jinkludi skart radjuattiv. Tweġiba : le. Imma huwa ppjanat li iktar tard ikun possibli li jsiru dawn il-verifiki qabel ma jiġi aċċettat l-iskart kliniku.

 

 

 

Qabel iż-żjara min-naħa ta’ AD għamilna l-verifiki neċessarji u rriżulta li lejn tmiem il-ġimgħa fuq is-sit elettroniku tal-Wasteserv kienu ippubblikati r-riżultati tal-emissjonijiet sa Jannar 2009. Il-mistoqsija tiġi waħedha : skond il-permess hemm l-obbligu ta’ pubblikazzjoni tal-emissjonijiet fi zmien tletin minuta. It-tweġiba : imma l-impjant għadu m’huwiex ikkummissjonat u allura l-obbligu ta’ pubblikazzjoni immedjata għad ma daħalx fis-seħħ. L-uffiċjali tal-Wasteserv ikomplu jispjegaw li r-riżultati jdumu ma jkunu ppubblikati minħabba li jkunu għand il-konsulenti Taljani għall-verifika u għand it-Taljani jdumu.

 

Min-naħa ta’ AD ma naqblux : il-permess ma jiddistingwix bejn jekk l-impjant huwiex ikkummissjonat jew le. Jirregola l-operat tiegħu il-ħin kollu.

 

F’isem AD hawnhekk għamilt suggeriment : li Wasteserve timpenja ruħha li tibda tnaqqas iż-żmien bejn meta jitkejjlu l-emissjonijiet u meta jkunu ppubblikati. Bħalissa dan iż-żmien hu twil (madwar 4 xhur) u jista’ jitnaqqas faċilment għal mhux iktar minn xahar. Wara kollox sa l-aħħar tas-sena, meta huwa ippjanat li jkun ikkummissjonat l-impjant ir-riżultati jridu jkunu ppubblikat mill-ewwel.

 

Tal-Wasteserv ma kienux konvinti li dan hu possibli u jsemmu elf raġuni : fuq quddiem nett it-Taljani li jdumu.

 

Imma dan jista’ jsir. Hu fl-interess ta’ kulħadd li jsir, l-ewwel u qabel kollox fl-interess tal-komunita. Il-konsulent tal-Wasteserv joħroġ ftit għonqu ukoll : jgħid li dak li qed titlob Alternattiva huwa possibli li jsir mingħajr wisq diffikulta.

  

 

Wara ż-żjara kellimna lill-istampa.