ERA approves new plant to convert organic waste to electricity, compost

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 December, 2023 at 10:39 pm by Andre Camilleri

The ERA Board has approved the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report analysing the development application PA 00993/23 (EA 00019/22) for a new plant to convert organic waste to electricity and compost, as part of WasteServ Malta’s ECOHIVE Complex, ERA said in a statement Thursday.

The EIA and ERA’s considerations about this project form part of the Planning Authority process to determine the development permit required to construct this new plant, which will contribute to the implementation of the country’s Long Term Waste Management Plan 2021-2030. 

Malta already processes all organic waste (white bag) separated by households and businesses and converts it into electricity through an existing WasteServ Malta plant. However, large quantities of organic waste are still being disposed of illegally in the black bag (for mixed, non-recyclable waste), ending up in landfills. In coming years, households and business will continue to increase the separation of organic waste through different measures and initiatives, including the enforcement of the mandatory waste separation regulations introduced earlier this year by ERA.

The new plant being proposed by WasteServ will be able to increase the processing of the planned increased quantities of separated organic waste, which will be converted to biogas, to be used as a sustainable fuel to generate electricity. As part of this process, the plant will also produce agricultural compost. This facility is expected to process around 74,300 tonnes of organic waste every year.

After studying the project’s impacts, ERA confirmed that the new plant will have a net environmental benefit, forming a fundamental component in Malta’s waste management strategy. Such processing plants are important as they sustain a drive towards waste minimisation at source and give preference to reuse and recycling over less sustainable options, including landfilling, thus helping to achieve the targets set by the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive by 2035.

During the Board hearing, it was noted that great improvements in waste separation and management performance have been registered in recent years, with 2023 marking the lowest annual quantity of black bag waste ever received by WasteServ in the last 21 years, despite a significant population increase. Infrastructural investments in new and more efficient facilities that can continue turning separated waste into a resource, such as the organic waste plant proposed by WasteServ, will maintain this positive trend in coming years.

The new plant will include an administration building, a weighing room, an energy building, a boiler, as well as fuel storage, mechanical pre-treatment, dewatering, post-treatment and wastewater treatment facilities.

In addition to the decision above, the ERA Board also approved another permit (IP 0005/20) for the variation and renewal of (IP 0004/12/B) a permit for an existing commercial waste processing facility. The new permit will allow Gasparell Baling Co. Ltd to conduct wire stripping operations in its facilities, in line with Best Available Techniques on waste treatment as required by EU law.

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