“A national cultural shift towards waste disposal driven by forward-thinking legislation is key to the success of Malta’s future waste management structure”, Richard Bilocca, CEO of WasteServ told The Malta Business Weekly.
“We are simultaneously trying to undo decades of damage, and the hard facts which state Malta as a very poor performer in Europe for using landfills as we strive towards building our new state of the art ECOHIVE site.” Bilocca added, that the fact government has invested over half a billion in Malta’s new waste management plant tells you the scale of the problem we have to resolve. What’s more, this isn’t just a plan; this is actually happening, and we are full of courage because the solution is within reach.
Bilocca stated Malta’s situation is dire compared to the rest of Europe, however now the green light has been given for the new ECOHIVE plant, over 90% of waste going to landfill, will be scaled down to 10%.
Speaking to this newspaper he said, “these figures sound ambitious, but the new ECOHIVE, will turn Malta’s waste into energy, high quality recyclables and agricultural grade compost, without polluting the environment.”
Malta will finally be in a position to stop its predominant reliance on landfilling and to aggressively turn waste into precious resources, be it energy, or productive agricultural resources.
He said that, we are aiming to have the waste-to-energy plant in place ahead of what was originally planned, and current landfill sites within the existing footprint will be used to their full potential. The facilities will be situated at Magħtab to centralise WasteServ’s operations, increasing efficiency and minimising any adverse environmental impacts of said operations.
“Right now, a huge amount of logistics is required to co-ordinate between our plants across Malta.”
The local ECOHIVE investment incorporates a much-needed waste-to-energy plant that will significantly limit landfilling volumes. There will also be a new plant for the management of dry recyclables, a plant to treat organic waste to extract energy and produce compost for use in agriculture, as well as the replacement of the clinical and abattoir waste incinerator. Bilocca notes these will work together in harmony with one another due to their proposed proximity.
“Areas previously used by WasteServ, including Wied Fulija in Żurrieq, Qortin in Gozo and St. Antnin in Marsascala, which add up to 170,000sq.m will be given back to the public in the form of green areas.
Speaking about the success of recently implemented changes such as glass collection Bilocca said, “we can always expect resistance to change, during the first-month glass retrieval was low. Then each subsequent month collections more than doubled from the previous. I can say the change was a resounding success”. As of 1 September, last year, glass mixed with other materials such as plastic bags, cardboard boxes and other waste items is no longer accepted. This is being done to ensure high quality while maximising the reuse potential of the recycling material.
When asked if any additional changes may hit households across Malta, Bilocca replied, “It’s most likely we will introduce separating cardboard and paper waste next from other recyclables, just like many other countries in Europe”
Bilocca concluded it was now WasteServ’s active role to match the environmental ambition of Maltese society’s future and implement the ambitious project in the shortest possible timeframes and at the highest possible standards.