Last Updated on Thursday, 25 November, 2021 at 12:53 pm by Andre Camilleri
Ing. Mario Schembri is the CEO of GreenPak Cooperative Society Ltd and a leading expert in waste management with over 20 years’ experience in the field
Let’s paint the ideal scenario – a resident takes out the garbage, a short while later the truck passes and all ends there. One would think that the logistics to collecting garbage was as simple as that, however, it is not.
If we dig a little deeper and visit the scenario where the ideal time to take out the garbage is just before the respective waste collector passes in front of your door, we have the most ideal and perfect scene. The bag obstructs the pavement for the least possible time, does not fall prey to the odd roaming animal who may tear the bag looking for food, avoids smells, leaks and unsanitary issues, while also does not serve as a visible eye-sore in the streets we reside in.
What happens though if one misses the allocated collection time? If you miss the time slot by just a whisker, then the garbage is left on the street and you are stuck with the unwanted garbage you just got rid of. In certain cases, such as glass collection this would mean being left with your unwanted waste for an entire month. Worse yet, if the waste in question is organic waste, this is turned into mulch causing horrific smells and potential unsanitary leaks.
Therefore, the safe default is to bring out the garbage bag as early as possible on the day of collection so as to avoid holding on to it for longer than desired periods.
Unfortunate for some, one could also come across a scenario where law unabiding citizens carelessly throw their unwanted waste in front of another property other than their own. It should be pointed out that leaving garbage in front of someone else’s property is a littering offence and leads to hefty fines. Even though there has been an increase in fines lately, let’s face it, there are still those citizens who choose to do otherwise, and take their chance to weasel out of the right way.
Fortunately, in most cases there are law-abiding citizens who refrain from erroneous disposal activities and take out their garbage bag to its correct place, early on the designated day. This is what most residents aim for and everyone should follow suit. Following such a simple habit would help streamline waste collection and significantly contribute to keeping our streets clean and safe from unnecessary hazards.
However, as with anything in life, what appears simple at face value becomes convoluted as we investigate the details. Another scenario we must consider is the logistics that the refuse collection vehicle (RCV) takes. The RCV starts at one end of the town early in the morning and as it follows a zigzag route through the whole locality and comes across all sorts of obstacles, not all garbage collections occur first thing in the morning, even if that is the official designated collection time. The time needed for collection (typically just a few hours) is directly proportional to the traffic the RCV meets, despite the fact that in larger towns multiple vehicles are deployed. Another factor to consider is that, once filled, the RCV needs to travel to the nearest waste facility to unload waste and return to resume the service. During this time a garbage bag is patiently waiting to be collected be it in sweltering heat or torrential rain.
Hopefully by now you get a rough idea of how the garbage bag left in front of your doorstep magically disappears. Seeing these complexities, one may argue that the best time for all to take out the garbage bag simply does not exist. However, with a measure of sensibility and mindfulness, all of us as residents, can make a real difference.
A good waste collection service is one that serves the needs of all the public and not only those that conveniently fit into the desired routine. For example, one needs to consider the public who needs to rest at different times of the day or those who simply cannot hold on to the garbage for an extended period due to lack of space in their apartments.
Recently the Local Councils Association proposed the setting up of appropriate waste collection points that can be accessed by the public 24/7. While such proposals provide their own set of challenges, they do merit further and expedient consideration than a 10-year timeframe mentioned in public discourse.
As we are working towards a better system and improving our habits as residents of our respective localities, we must keep in mind that a good waste collection service is one that serves the needs of all the public.