SME Chamber

Government too lenient in Packaging Waste Regulations Enforcement – Is it election time?

It is of no use pointing fingers to
whoever is responsible for implementing a Waste Management Strategy if whoever
is responsible for environmental policy does not have the guts to legislate in
the right manner. Beyond legislation comes enforcement, which is inexistent in

Taking a close look at the Packaging
Producers Register (online 24/7 on MEPA's website) will show that 3195
importers, traders and businesses are registered with the Competent Authority,
out of which 2387 are members of either Green MT or Greenpak.

260 producers have deregistered, which
means that they no longer place packaging waste in the market and the remaining
548 are declaring that they are self compliant. Self Compliance means that
these producers are able to collect at source over 60% of their packaging
waste, somehow segregate it, have it collected by an authorized Waste carrier
who forwards it to an authorized waste management facility who in turn forwards
it to a waste broker for eventual export to obtain a final recycling

Whilst Schemes continue to face
reporting structures and internal audit procedures that are draconian in
nature, because they represent a substantial number of producers of course,
self compliance is never checked and no audit trail is forthcoming. Of course
the producer receives a letter giving him the parameters of self compliance,
but following that nothing is being done.

In the enforcement of packaging waste
regulations, only the two Authorized Schemes are chased to comply to their
obligations day in day out, whilst self compliant producers are allowed a
laissez faire attitude. Amongst these producers who declare themselves self
compliant are some of Malta's major importers and manufacturers whose products
finally end up at the consumer, the resulting packaging in the grey or green bag,
collected by the Schemes, which collection is paid for by the Schemes

Adding insult to injury, the policy
maker is reluctant to change the legislation so that those producers who place
packaging waste on the market directly to the consumers can only comply to the
legislation by being members of Authorized Schemes. And you know why, because
some of these producers are heavy weights and untouchables who make use of
every cent placed on the table by Malta Enterprise and also any ERDF funds, but
then fail to meet their environmental obligations as the need requires.


Minister Demarco is taking a back seat.
Time is tolling and probably Minister Demarco does not have the guts to issue a
legal notice enforcing on producers who place consumer packaging in the market to be members of Schemes but
Schemes are made to recover their packaging waste!

Instead, in a meeting GRTU had earlier
this week with the Minister Demarco, and the higher echelons of MEPA, they
opined for more enforcement and more ways to make sure that self compliant
members are actually self compliant.

Well, GRTU has a message for you, Mr
Minister…producers were promised a fair and level playing field, we were
promised enforcement, real enforcement, enforcement that produces results.
Schemes were promised to be a part of an Enforcement Monitoring Committee,
according to the last Budget speech. This has not transpired. In the last year
2012 we have had no enforcement to date, the Enforcement Directorate in respect
to Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations was nowhere to be seen. It has
faltered and faltered miserably to the detriment of Schemes. No penalties to
producers who have failed to oblige to Packaging regulations were issued in
2012. What actions will you take to awaken a dead Directorate? And will you
take it now with an election looming? GRTU surely hopes you deliver on your
words. GRTU will leave no stone unturned to make sure that what it has done for
the environment to date continues. We are proud of what we have done. We were
and still are environment stalwarts in Malta. Maybe you were not in the picture
then, but Schemes and the recovery of packaging waste and its setting up did
not come up overnight. It took long hard hours of work together with The
Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, Local Councils and the Local Councils
Association, the Department of Local Government, MHRA, the Malta Chamber of
Commerce and Industry, the then Federation of Industry, and last but not least
WasteSer, the National Waste Management Company. We had one problem then which
continues to date. MEPA always stood its ground. MEPA was always a different
Government, Government no 2 so as to say. Today it remains the same. The people
change but the concept lingers. It has ingrained itself too deep.

Another insult to Authorized Packaging
Schemes is the fact that another three applications for Authorized Packaging
Schemes have been placed with the Competent Authorities. Green MT and Greenpak
Co-op both recover from Local Councils the grey or green bag and also maintain
Bring in Sites in all 68 of the Local Councils in Malta and Gozo. If the
Authorities that be decide to issue one operating environmental permit without
obliging a competing Scheme to do the same, we will stop operations the next day. And we mean it.

The message is loud and clear.  If another Scheme is Authorized with no
obligation to recover from Local Councils, Government will be lumped overnight
with the expense of both Schemes current operations. A tune of nearly six million Euros annually….Ministry of Finance please

Our waste management strategy from a
policy point of view needs beefing up in many more ways than one, but of course
this is no easy time to take decisions. Decisions are not taken on the basis of
whether they would enhance our environment in a holistic manner, but on other
criteria known to one and all at this time.

GRTU has one message to Hon Minister
Demarco. There are times when one is faced with decisions to take and not every
decision taken will result in everyone clapping for you. This time around you
have let down 2387 decent
producers who are members to Authorized Schemes, and you have opted to please 548 SELF COMPLIANT producers .

But we are duty bound to inform our producer members that
your Ministry has failed in delivering the right parameters for a fair and
level playing field to date. Of course we all shoulder the responsibility for
the decisions we take…time will tell…and time has no mercy…

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