Municipal waste sent to local landfills in 2010 was cut by 10 per cent in just a year, according to figures published by Eurostat yesterday.

Malta is registering substantial progress in treating its waste and is producing less of it, though a number of other EU states are still performing better.

In 2010, Malta produced 591kg of waste per capita – still one of the highest in the EU – but almost 100kg per person less than in 2008.

However, the biggest improvement noticed from the new statistics is that while Malta used to dump all its waste in Magħtab, creating an artificial waste mountain, in 2010 it landfilled 86 per cent of all its municipal waste. This is an improvement of 14 per cent since EU accession in 2004 and an impressive 10 per cent in just a year when compared to 2009.

Instead, seven per cent of Malta’s waste was recycled and six per cent composted in 2010 while the rest was treated and sent to an engineered landfill.

Eurostat sources told The Times that while Malta still has a long way to go to reach the EU average in this area, the country has invested heavily in waste treatment facilities and the results are starting to show.

But the Maltese are still among the top producers of rubbish in the EU

Upon EU accession, Malta closed the Magħtab landfill and built a new engineered facility close by, while millions were invested through the support of EU funds in building new recycling facilities, particularly through the upgrade of the Sant’ Antnin facility in Marsascala. The island is also investing heavily in other waste-related projects, including the construction of a new incinerator, which will help Malta cut further the amount of waste sent to landfills – considered to be the worst form of waste treatment.

However, the EU figures also show Malta is lagging behind some more advanced some member states in this area, particularly the richest ones.

While in the EU as a whole, only 38 per cent of municipal waste is landfilled, in Germany, 45 per cent of waste is recycled while in Austria, 40 per cent is composted.

In general, in 2010 the EU recycled 25 per cent of all its waste, composted 15 per cent and incinerated 22 per cent.

On a per capita basis, an average EU citizen produced 502 kilos of municipal waste in 2010, 89 kilos less than an average Maltese citizen.

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