Fabian Demicoli

Lack of Enforcement by MEPA and where it led to…..

Packaging
waste compliance – The lack of Enforcement by MEPA
Enforcement Directorate led by whoever was responsible prior to March 8th was
rampant. From January 2012 right up to the eve of this year's March Elections. It is not usual for GRTU to write
about the past, but this is one instance where we truly feel that Bona-Fide
importers, traders and manufacturers should know nothing less than the truth.

By the end of 2010, the two
Authorised schemes, Green MT & Greenpak (now Co op) had just over 400
producer members financially backing the schemes and duly registered with MEPA.
Green MT had 120 members who declared a market placement of 11,600 tons whilst
the remaining were Greenpak's members and placed just over 11,900 tons of
packaging waste in the market.

By mid 2010, Green MT had legally
complied to its obligations both under MEPA permit conditions and those imposed
by the Legal Notice 84 of 2010 (Eco Contribution Exemption Regulations).

Green MT was obliged to recover just
over 6000 tons of packaging waste whilst Greenpak recovered just over 6100
tons. Under instructions from Government, Green MT continued its logistical
operations across 41 local Councils (at the time) and recovered over 14,100
tons by the end of the calendar year.

Green MT entered into discussions
with Government and the Authorities to make sure that operation in the
subsequent years would be sustainable and an agreement would be reached over
excess tonnage collected in 2010.

After months of continued discussions
with all stakeholders, it was decided that MEPA issues a circular to all
defaulting producers (all those who were not members and neither self
compliant) to join a scheme by end May 2011 and in the process were liable for
fines and administrative penalties at Euro 100 per ton of market placement as
from January 01, 2010.

It was this circular that awakened
producers who flocked to join both Authorised Schemes and also signed
"Settlement Agreements" with MEPA. Scheme members by end of 2011 increased from
just over 400 to over 2600. MEPA issued over 1200 penalties amounting to
hundreds of thousands of Euros, many of which were paid. A number were
contested legally and we are informed are still pending to date.

Then all of a sudden, the Enforcement
which was so ably handled by the Compliance Unit was transferred to the
Enforcement Directorate.

From January 01, 2012, schemes and
Bona-Fide traders started an uphill struggle. All files relating to Enforcement
were forwarded to the Enforcement Directorate. They did not comprehend the
massive task that hit them overnight. We are informed that by June of 2012
employees were still taking the files out of the boxes they had been delivered
in. By the end of the year no enforcement took place. We are told a number of
penalties amounting to Euro 96,000 were prepared and never issued. We are told
they were awaiting legal advice.

In the meantime word spread around
that as an election vote catching gimmick no enforcement was taken seriously
and no penalties were issued at all. Suddenly there were traders and companies
who informed schemes that they were no longer importing and as thus requested
de-registration. So now members were on the decrease too.

To add insult to injury this shambles
of an Enforcement Directorate continued on the same path till the eve of the
election. Questions asked by Green MT in relation to data of defaulters, self
compliant, free riders, requested in mid 2012 were only answered on 7th March
at 5.08pm. Truly and disgustingly unbelievable.

For this reason alone, whoever led
this Enforcement Directorate should be sacked overnight for blatantly breaching
the Aarhaus Convention.

The mess resulting form lack of
Enforcement has led to unsustainable operations and the creation of a black
market economy in the sector, i.e. buying of recycling certificates which is
not the acceptable norm amongst other charades.

GRTU, who today still runs its own
subsidiary Green MT wants answers to this mess created by the Enforcement
Directorate since January 01, 2012.

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