Fabian Demicoli

Unauthorized Waste Sorting Plant

 GRTU commends the Malta Environment and Planning Authority for issuing an Enforcement Order to the operator of an unpermitted waste sorting depot that had sprouted up in Zabbar. MEPA are well aware that there are other waste sorting depots as far as Gozo that also need such an enforcement notice. 

How can a forty foot vehicle be transporting baled cardboard from Gozo to Malta at the deep of night when there are no authorized facilities of the sort in Gozo? At least not permitted by MEPA!

MEPA is well aware that a holder of a waste broker permit does not entitle one to operate a Waste Management Facility. MEPA should now delve deeper to see what volumes were deposited at that unpermitted facility and who brought these volumes of recyclable waste material to this facility. And MEPA should investigate who were the waste brokers who bought the material for export from this unpermitted site. Or was it the same offender who was responsible for exporting the said material? If so,this teaches us all a lesson. Such operators should not have vertical permits, i.e. a permit as a waste carrier, a permit as a Waste Broker and also a permit as a Waste Management Facility (the last permit was available for another site and not this site)

And if as stated, the offender does have a license and permit to handle waste, then this permit should be revoked now. In this sector like many others Malta does not need untrustworthy operators and the message by MEPA should be loud and clear. No permits to offenders in this sector. Payment of penalties is not enough in such instances.

Operators who are duly operating in this sector or who wish to take up these operations in the future should be well aware of their destiny should they decide to operate in a clandestine manner. MEPA knows sufficiently well that many of the problems it has to face are self-inflicted as a result of incompetent enforcement. MEPA's tolerance standards are far too high for serious environment protection and this is particularly through in waste management.

Malta's Waste Management Strategy, both policy and implementation, is at its infancy stage and GRTU accepts that MEPA should not tolerate rogue traders to be a part of these operations. MEPA is there to make sure that policy and strategy in relation to Environmental Issues are followed and adhered to and GRTU will support every inch of the way all its efforts in this direction. GRTU has led in both the setting up of a strategy in the recovery of recyclable waste through the setting up of Green MT, a fully owned subsidiary which has over the last five years enticed the business community to comply to their environmental obligations in respect to Packaging Waste Regulations.

Five years later, GRTU stands tall knowing that in the last three years of Green MT's operation, 38,000 tons of separated waste was collected from Malta and Gozo, instead of being landfilled.

MEPA should now continue its efforts both on other illegal waste sorting depots situated in a number of places in Malta and Gozo, including behind closed garage doors, and issue enforcement notices. A Waste Management Facility, being what it is should have an operational permit from Day 1. This is imperative. MEPA cannot allow the sprouting up of a black economy in this sector. There are permitted facilities, waste management facilities, who have spent thousands of Euros to make sure that their facilities are operating according to the requirements of their environmental permit. MEPA cannot drive these operators out of business because it allows a black market economy to bolster. And this is not an issue of auditing, for MEPA audits permits issued only and these have none. So allowing such operations to sprout is adding insult to injury.

It is no small task but we are sure that with commitment, and the continued discussion and dissemination of information with stakeholders who have existing permits, MEPA Enforcement Directorate can stand up and be counted.

In order to help MEPA achieve this aim, GRTU strongly urges Government to set up the Monitoring Enforcement Committee in relation to Producer Responsibility as stated in its Budget document of 2011. The setting up of this Committee is already three years late. GRTU hopes this renewed call will now not fall on deaf ears. 

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