Fabian Demicoli

Green light for Waste management

 One very difficult issue that GRTU, as the true representative of Maltese enterprise, had to face over the last decade, was  the implementation of the EU waste management directives. A small country like Malta who's economy highly depends on tourism and an essential part of the infrastructure for us Maltese and all visitors is a healthy environment is how to successfully operate the polluter pays principle.

 

 

Effectively the importer and the producer is at law the "polluter" as he is directly responsible for the importation of most materials that end up in the waste stream. Waste simply does no materialise from nowhere.

Whether it is packaging waste, electrical or electronic waste or any other waste material the basic truth remains that when a product or a material is no longer in use it is thrown out with the rest of the waste stream. Somebody must be made responsible for its collection and for its eventual processing as recycled material, reusable material or whatever, the cost has to be born by somebody. Whichever way you look at it the cost ends at the door of the citizen, either as a consumer or as a tax payer. Traditionally Government handled all waste which means the tax payer had to pay for all the expense. Today most materials are captured and the cost is included in the service or product placed on the market and at the end of the road it is the consumer who pays.

Under EU regulations our Government has to meet specific targets. On waste collection, recycling and reuse and adopt specific policies to ensure this is done.

GRTU is the one national organisation that rather than talk, preach and expect others to do has instead shouldered  the responsibility on behalf of Maltese enterprises to carry the tremendous burden of organizing a National Waste Management Compliance Scheme so that, by economies of scale and central cooperative management, we reduce the cost for waste management compliance that would otherwise bear heavily on each entrepreneur.

GRTU, who's members come primarily from small enterprise and a large ratio of whom are retailers, ensured that the burdens would not fall on retailers but would rather be part of the whole burden of importation and production. This essentially entailed a massive organisation to collect recyclable waste on a door-to-door basis from all of the Maltese and Gozitan territory. Through the GRTU's 100% subsidiary Green MT this exercise now covers 70% of Malta and Gozo and the scheme managed by GRTU is responsible for 78% of the recyclable waste taken to the national waste facility at Sant` Antnin.

This is a scheme that makes us all extremely proud. The Maltese commercial sector represented primarily by GRTU is not only providing jobs for up to 78% of the Maltese labour force and substantially contributing to Malta's GDP but this sector is now also the major contributor to Malta's National Waste Management compliance

The serious problem that arose over these last years was one of enforcement. While a substantial number of enterprises belonged to Green MT or its competitor GreenPak, and these entrepreneurs carried the burden of financially supporting the 2 schemes that specialise in waste management compliance, many other entrepreneurs preferred to disregard all and to plod on in spite of the serious dis-leveled competitive market structure to which they were contributing.

MEPA, the national regulator on this issue remained practically aloof and failed to provide an effective enforcement that ensured that all polluters paid their due contribution to the schemes. Now MEPA came bang into action and importers and producers who had been evading their responsibility on this matter are being forced to comply. The issue facing business representatives is either to act responsibly and accept that the best way forward is for the responsibility to be shared by all, thus minimising the cost per entity or to ignore and allow the persistence of a state where the honest pay and the dishonest just evade.

GRTU has opted for the correct way forward and is in fact providing all the support necessary to entrepreneurs and business owners in general to help them come in line and comply with the waste management regulations

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