Local waste management and recycling firm has put itself at the center of solving Malta’s waste management problem
The small island nation of Malta holds the six-month rotating EU presidency at a time when it is one of the fastest growing economies in the Euro area. GDP growth reached 4 percent last year, well above the EU regional average, and is forecasted to come in at a relatively satisfactory 3.7 percent this year.
But over the past decade, continued economic and population growth in the bloc’s smallest member has put immense pressure on waste management, and the island has a bit of catching up to do with other members on environmental control measures to address its growing waste problem. This is particularly pertinent for a country with a thriving tourism industry that relies heavily on its image of a land of beauty.
In a report released in the beginning of February, the EU warns that Malta needs to speed up the implementation of the Union’s waste management requirements, as extremely high volumes of waste are going to landfill while recycling rates remain very low.
But stark warnings from Brussels alone will not be enough to fix the problem. What also needs to change is the Maltese mindset on recycling, according to David Borg, chairman of local waste management and recycling firm WasteServ.
“Changing the mentality is not easy,” he says. But WasteServ is making significant efforts to educate people on recycling and waste management.
“Education is at the very core of WasteServ’s endeavors, so it is important that we have a clear path for communication. Our ultimate aim is to encourage people to make waste management an integral lifestyle practice, and we believe that our objectives will help us to get our message across in a strong and defined manner.”
Tonio Montebello, CEO of the WasteServ
Aside from educating, WasteServ has completed more than 100 million euros worth of waste management projects over the past three years, aimed at organizing, managing and operating integrated systems for waste management including minimisation, collection, transport, sorting, reuse, utilistation, recycling, treatment and disposal of solid and hazardous waste. The company also coordinates the export of waste to destinations outside the Maltese islands.
“We’ve built a 52-million-euro plant in Maghtab,” Mr. Borg adds. “It will take around two years to maximise this potential, but with this plant, we hope that we can process all waste generated in Malta.”
While the waste industry may be less glamorous than the tourism or tech industries, Mr. Borg is passionate about the business he is in. He sees waste management as one that impacts all sectors and overall economic growth, and thus should be given appropriate level attention – be it by businesses, policymakers or the general public.
“The waste industry is as big as the gaming industry and film industry put together. Why shouldn’t it have its deserved place of importance? I’m in love with the industry,” he says.
“Growth can be sustained, be it financial growth, industrial growth or touristic growth. If you manage your essentials well. When I mean essentials, it is solid waste, water waste, electricity waste. Manage your waste well, manage your essentials well, and you have all that is required to sustain your growth.”