The mandatory separation of waste at source has always remained a myth because successive Governments have viewed this individual obligation as a vote loser in many ways. Why should the politician ask the individual resident to separate waste by obligation when the economy can easily afford the current landfilling fee. Why should we ask commercial entities to separate their waste when we have a booming economy and can easily afford the landfilling cost of what is being collected from their entities without any payment. Why should we enforce this scenario when as it is, the waste is land filled and soon enough a waste to energy plant will burn whatever is thrown at it?
Do we want the moaning and the groaning of the driving points system all over again and again? Not really, as politicians, they prefer not being pestered by phone calls from those who vote for them or prospective voters asking them to somehow help in cancelling a fine or a penalty for not separating waste or for not being responsible during driving.
The EU infringements seem to be very far away, as the EU slow regulatory framework would take ages to ever fine Malta an EU member state, for not reaching already set environmental targets. EU Governments would probably be keen to pay the fine instead of enforcing a regulatory regime. So the political picture is bright enough from this end. The Government and any Government to follow could start worrying ten years from now but by then we would have a waste to energy plant and we can all forget about mandatory waste separation. Mandatory waste separation at source comes before a waste to energy plant.
Despite the talk by all of our politicians, both sides, there is no further political will to make waste separation mandatory. We have unfortunately been lost in a war for votes even though one party has an advantage of anywhere between 75 to 100 thousand votes.. One would not expect to lose so many votes by making waste separation mandatory. It is the perception of a greedy politician who thinks that such legislation would create loss of votes.
I have a different opinion. A fast growing cosmopolitan Malta in the Mediterranean will in ten years from now be host to over 600k inhabitants daily. And Government can be truly proud of this. Any Government would be.. We will soon have industry sectors which we never dreamt of having at our shores. We have the brightest future any country could ever dream of. But with these dreams, we need to prepare ourselves for responsibilities and responsibilities towards our environment.
We are driving our economy towards more service orientated institutions that need upmarket answers to our current environmental problems. Whilst we should be proud of bringing home these new business initiatives, we need to be as proud to be called the cleanest and healthiest country not only in Europe but in the world.
A Government who has the will to legislate waste separation at source will increase its votes. A Government who takes it within its remit to take care of our environment for tomorrow’s generation will wake up after Election Day to find even more support if it walks the talk. A Government who legislates waste separation at source would be providing a first step towards the decrease of at least 70 percent of what goes to landfill today, mainly consisting of clean Recyclables and organic food waste. A Government who legislates waste separation at source today would be increasing the lifespan of our only engineered landfill. A Government who legislates waste separation at source will be helping each and everyone of us to a cleaner and healthier environment. . A Government that legislates waste separation at source will only be increasing his environmental credentials ten fold when they have always been at the lowest of ebbs.
We can of course opt for a carrot and a stick approach, ‘Tini u ntik’. Maybe we are waiting for a deposit return system for plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles, which system aims to change our environmental habits. . It is all in the hands of our members of Parliament and not only the Government on its own merits. The future for Malta in Waste Management does not rely only on a waste to energy plant of any type just to burn whatever we throw at it. The future lies with being able to decide now and not later, about obliging residents, individuals and commercial entities to do what all EU countries have made mandatory years ago and still continue to do so now…. Separating waste at source.