Every person in Malta generated 618kg of garbage in 2022, over 100kg more than other Europeans, bringing the country’s total up to just over 2.6 million tonnes according to recently published national and EU data.

This is 4.4% higher than the total waste generated in the previous year, but it remains far lower than the lockdown year of 2020, when a staggering 3.5 million tonnes of waste were produced.

On average, each person in Malta generated the equivalent of five full aeroplane suitcases more waste than their European counterparts in 2022.

Authorities say things have improved dramatically since then, following  new national waste collection schedule and the introduction of fines for not separating waste correctly. 

Data published separately indicates that in 2023, the amount of black bag (landfill) waste fell by 23 per cent, organic waste was up 35 per cent and recycling waste up roughly 11 per cent. 

That reversed a years-long trend that saw grey bag recyclables, glass and organic waste all dropping year-on-year between 2019 and 2022. 

Industrial and construction waste up

Data published by Wasteserv Malta Ltd. on Tuesday shows that the quantity of hazardous waste such as batteries, paints, oils and electronic equipment generated in 2022 was up by over 2,600 tonnes, while non-hazardous waste shot up by over 100,000 tonnes between 2021 and 2022.

The amount of industrial waste, such as construction waste, solvents and metallic waste all increased significantly in 2022. Likewise, the amount of waste from households swelled to over 232,000 tonnes, the highest level since 2019.

618kg of waste per person

Recent Eurostat data reveals that Maltese people generated some 618 kilogrammes of municipal waste per capita in 2022.

This is over 100kg more than the EU-wide average of 513kg. Only seven EU countries generated more waste per person than Malta.

While Malta’s per-person average increased slightly since 2021 (from 611kg to 618kg), it remains lower than at any other level since 2013, when just 602kg of waste per person was generated.

However, Malta also appears to be propping up the European table when it comes to recyclable waste, with just 75kg of waste being recycled per person in 2022, far lower than the EU average of 249kg. Only Romania, at 36kg of waster recycled per person, recorded lower levels.

Correction February 14, 2024: A previous version misstated the total volume of water in billions, rather than millions.

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