Are the Maltese disposing of waste properly, or are they only concerned with the situation inside their homes?

Despite the availability of various facilities for disposal of bulky refuse, many persons still get rid of their unwanted stuff illegally by dumping it is streets and areas where they are unlikely to be seen, like Imtaħleb and Baħrija. Popolin has analysed this problem, and although various attempts have been made to increase awareness about the damage caused and the expenses incurred through this behaviour, irresponsible persons still act this way.

Popolin spoke with Ramon Deguara, Director General of the Cleansing and Maintenance Division. Deguara told us that last year the division collected some 15,000 tons of illegally dumped waste, adding that related fines are very harsh and can go up to 10,000 euro or more. Asked for his views on the reason for this behaviour, Deguara said “I believe the people are not informed, otherwise why would they take the bother and the risk of illegal dumping when they can take the same waste to civic amenity sites for free? I can’t understand why they dump it in one place and not in another.” Deguara added that collection of waste material involves numerous resources, and at the end of the day, the Maltese and Gozitans foot the bill.

To better understand this behaviour we spoke with Dr Margaret Camilleri Fenech, a lecturer in environmental management. Dr Camilleri Fenech explained that waste produced in Malta is very high on a per capita basis. In fact, Malta produces the second highest amount of waste in the European Union. Dr Camilleri Fenech added that this is not only the result of an increase in population, but we are now seeing an increase in the amount of waste generated per capita, which means an increase in consumption and an increase in wastage as a result. Asked whether she believes there still exists an element whose only concern is about the situation inside their homes, Dr Camilleri Fenech confirmed this. On a positive note, however, she added that much work has been done to educate and create awareness on this subject, particularly where children are involved.

Dr Camilleri Fenech concluded by explaining the importance of Government also considering expenses in waste management created by industries when the Government considers the economy and GDP generated by various sectors including tourism and construction. In this manner, a much cleaner and more sustainable economy can be created.