Fabian Demicoli

Waste separation recovery from 41 Local Councils grinding to a halt

 Unless an agreement is reached with Government Authorities in respect to excess of Packaging Waste recovered by Schemes in 2010, then the recovery of separated waste will stop with immediate effect. A meeting is being held for all contractors operating in 41 Local Councils in Malta and Gozo, tomorrow Saturday 9th April to discuss this matter and related decisions are be taken. Most contractors have pending payments in 2010 and these can only be settled if the excess tonnage recovered by Schemes is sold to non current members of Authorised Waste Packaging Schemes.


Green MT, GRTU's fully owned subsidiary, has over the last six months written to those concerned with this issue, including The Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi. Just because Government is no longer responsible through Waste serv to recover the Grey Bag from all these localities, does not mean that unsustainable operations can continue as long as it is the private sector being burdened by these responsabilities.

MEPA, the Competent Authority responsible to make sure that enough enforcement is made so that producers of packaging are members of Authorised Schemes has not effectively stood its ground. Only 1700 producers are registered with MEPA and only 670 are today paying to Schemes. So over 1000 still need to pay up for their obligations in 2010 and also over 2300 still need to register both with MEPA and also with a Scheme and become a paying member.

There is no more time. Contractors will not work any more without getting paid for their services. Although a solution is visible we need to make sure that it is effectively put in place in the shortest time possible. It is no longer acceptable that an importer of shoes is a paying member to a Scheme and another equally responsible under law shoe importer, is not. This country needs a fair and level playing field in all business sectors.

GRTU has from the very begining emphasised this situation. The length of time taken to decide has taken its toll on all operating contractors. Whilst Government wakes up and decides to increase fuels on a monthly basis, then it takes ages to decide on other matters which month after month continue to provide a sheer burden to these operators. This must stop.

Those who have the remit to decide, mostly politicians, should decide or else move on to more subtle quarters. Some jobs are unfortunately what they are. Some decisions are not always met with clapping hands and this is one of them. Those who are not ready to decide should then choose other jobs.

Later today a meeting is being held to enter into the technicalities of a solution to this issue. There should not be any corners. No delays in implementing towards a level playing field. Contractors meet tomorrow and in the absence of a concrete deal with Government Authroities on this issue, they will stand up to be counted. If there is no agreement, then tomorrow's meeting will give a 48 hour notice of industrial action.

We are of course aware that we are not far away. A solution is not out of this world. We must make sure once and for all that Schemes in this sector work according to European extended polluter pays principle under sustainability too.

Local Councils account for over 75% of our recovery targets. They are a financial burden to Schemes. There are a large part of our expense. The demands by the communities are extensive, and rightly so. They do their best to obtain from Schemes what they cannot finance on their own. We find no objection to such requests as long as Govern holds to its commitments too. Government  had in the past committed itself with the Association of Local Councils that if an Authorised Scheme falters in  its operations, then the Government through Waste serv will take over once again. We are not going in that diection. That direction is now a part of history. If Government takes us there, we will stand up to be counted at the European Commission level. We will leave no stone unturned to tell Europe the truth about waste separation in Malta.

Once again we feel we are very close to a mechanism that will set the ball rolling towards sustainable operations and also creating a fairer level playing field in all sectors of the economy.

Lets work together to avoid a mini Naples next week!

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