A fine for taking out the wrong rubbish bag will only be considered as a “last measure”, this newspaper has learnt, despite waste remaining uncollected in the streets of some localities under the new collection scheme.

The Environment and Resources Authority was asked about how the new fines will be enforced but details still remain vague.

Under the new recycling scheme that came into force earlier this month, households must separate their waste and place organic material in white bags while using the black bags for mixed waste. Items that are recyclable, such as paper, plastic and metals, will be collected separately.

Each locality has a schedule laying down which bags are to be taken out on which day. According to the new regulations, anyone caught taking out the wrong garbage bag shall be liable to a fine.

ERA hopes the public cooperates with this scheme in the best interest of safeguarding the environment

While at present the authorities are only issuing warnings to those caught taking out the wrong bag, as from next month, people caught red-handed will start being fined.

Read: New recycling rules are 'the best' ever,' says Environment Minister

Despite this, it remains unclear how the fines will be dished out, with the ERA stating only that the fines can be issued by LESA officers, police officers and ERA officers and that they will only be issued as a last measure.

“The information period ends on November 30 and those found in contravention to these regulations after this date will be fined a penalty ranging between €150 and €500.

“Nonetheless, ERA hopes that the public cooperates with this scheme in the best interest of safeguarding the environment. Fines will only be considered as a last measure,” an ERA spokesman told The Sunday Times of Malta.

Read: Waste collection mess leaves St Paul's Bay residents fuming

Asked for an explanation on how people taking out their rubbish will be monitored, the spokesman for the authority said the fines will be issued “against persons seen to be contravening these regulations”. But it did not explain the procedures that the officers will be following in order to do so.

ERA officers, the spokesman said, were visiting residential areas across various localities to check the type of bag being taken out for collection and “talking to those households that are found to be in default”.

In recent weeks, concerns have been raised about how the new scheme has been planned, as it has led to some confusion and waste bags being left behind in the street after collection time.

Several mayors as well as the Local Councils Association have spoken out against the scheme, with the association saying it is not happy with the way organic waste bin distribution has been handled, blaming the authorities for what they say was a lack of planning.

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