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