Fabian Demicoli

Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulations. Quo Vadis?

Malta is a country that is not only encompassed by bureaucrats but also a country where political will leaves much to be desired. Or, let me put it in other words, politicians have different tongues which they utilise according to the event or nature of the event, whilst the administrator delivers what's in tangible black and white, albeit in the most bureaucratic of ways.

 

The European Directive in relation to Packaging and Packaging Waste has been in place for ages, locally transposed through Legal Notice 277 of 2006. And where are we really till now?

The Government of the day has lumped two authorised Waste Packaging Schemes, namely Green MT and GreenPak, with the responsibility of recovering waste recyclables from 68 Local Councils. The bait, or the carrot, was exemption for Eco Contribution payment.

Those few who to date have received a provisional exemption certificate from payment of Eco Contribution, namely 83 companies are contributing financially towards both of the authorised schemes. Meantime an additional 300 have also joined the schemes, mostly due to the fact that they today pay Eco Contribution, but look forward to being exempt shortly.

Shortly, we are told, is at the discretion of the "Approving Body". Companies who today have a provisional certificate of Exemption do not know whether they will be exempt next year or not. How can these companies Budget? Why should they live by the sword? We expect that the "Approving Body" in accordance with LN84 of 2010 extends (renews) the same certificate for another year, 2011.

Beyond this MEPA, the Competent Authority responsible for enforcing this legislation needs to stand and be counted. Why impose obligations on Authorised Schemes but fail to accordingly enforce the legislation? The ensuing result of this ludicrous situation is that Green MT, one of the Authorised Schemes, due to its responsibility in 41 Local Councils to collect packaging waste has exceeded by far its legal obligations.

We could have stopped all operators on October 1 2010, and still would have created our legal obligation. However, Local Council and their residents need to be provided with a service, schools too, commercial collections too, and last but least recovery from all bring-in-sites.

The lack of enforcement by MEPA, together with the costs of operation of WasteServ's MRF facility are definitely driving Green MT through a brick wall. We are counting the days.

In a few days time Green MT will hold the "Green Council Award" ceremony. We duly hope it will not be the first and last.

Government today thinks that because no payments are being forked for all these services by Government, then it sits pretty on the side line. Of course, during the inauguration of the Sant Antnin facility at M'Scala, the Government thanked one and all except Authorised Schemes. That of course was expected.

It was a pleasure to hear the Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs state that because we worked hard we avoided the circumstances that occurred in neighbouring Naples. We hope his words will remain an echo.

GRTU Malta Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises has stood tall. We took on the responsibility while others shrugged it overnight. We established Green MT. We pushed as best possible producers to uptake their responsibility. We worked long hard hours. We lingered on despite the bureaucratic and legal problems.

We have gone far in promoting Waste Separation from the initial logistics of the "grey bag" to so many initiatives and additional collections in so many localities. We will hold both MEPA and WasteServ responsible if all this crumbles. Time will tell!

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