Only 10 per cent of waste in 2020 was recycled, Energy Minister Miriam Dalli has said.

The low recycling rate raises serious questions about Malta's ability to meet its EU-stipulated target of recycling at least 55% of its municipal waste by 2025. 

Dalli gave a breakdown of Malta’s recycling rate of municipal waste – rubbish generated by households – in response to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Darren Carabott on Tuesday.

Out of the 331,142 tonnes of waste produced in 2020, a meagre 527 tonnes (0.2 per cent) was recycled locally while 34,824 tonnes (10.5 per cent) was exported to be recycled abroad.

That year saw a decrease in national waste by 19,800 tonnes from 2019, lowering the average person’s annual waste generation by three kilograms per person.

From the total municipal waste, 273,673 tonnes was treated and sent to landfills – a slight decrease from 2019.

However, according to Waterserv, Malta registered a 30 per cent increase in waste recycling between 2020 and 2021.

This upward trend is expected to be maintained in the coming years, Waterserv says.  

Ambitious targets

Malta consistently lags behind international targets for recycling. Under the EU targets, at least 55% of municipal waste must be recycled by 2025, rising to 60% by 2030. 

The island already missed its 2020 target of recycling 50% of municipal waste two years ago. 

Last year, a government document warned that Malta will dump 40 per cent more waste in landfills by 2030 if nothing is done to tackle the ever-increasing flow of domestic rubbish.

It intends to remedy the situation through a multi-million investment in waste treatment facilities at Magħtab.

Separately, a nationwide beverage container recycling scheme was rolled out earlier this month.  

The scheme, run by a group of Malta’s main beverage producers, asks the public to deposit bottles and cans in special recycling machines dotted across the country and went live on November 14.

The waste will then be processed, packaged, and shipped abroad for recycling.  

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