With landfills expected to reach full capacity within the next two years, the Cabinet was discussing new ways to deal with the rising tide of rubbish, government sources said.

Alternatives to incineration are being considered as solutions to the waste management crisis, the Times of Malta has learnt.

Ways of “turning waste to energy”, including cutting-edge thermal heating technology, are the main options being weighed.

“Waste recovery technology has come a long way in recent years, and there are alternatives to burning it in an incinerator. These are solutions that don’t have the same negative impact on the environment and civilian health,” the sources said.

Maltese homes produce 25 per cent more garbage than national estimates predicted.

A new report on Malta’s domestic waste shows that homes produce a whopping 136,523 tonnes of black bags every year – enough to fill 27 Gozo Channel ferries to the rafters - significantly higher than the 109,000 tonnes that experts believe we should be producing.

The solutions don’t have the same negative impact on civilian health

The island is now ranked sixth among the EU countries that generate the most waste per inhabitant.

Experts working on the government’s new waste management plan said the country’s reliance on landfilling had been allowed to go on for “far too long”.

Nearly 90 per cent of all waste is sent to landfills, with just eight per cent being recycled.

“There needs to be a mentality shift, and the government needs to put its weight behind this if people are going to change the way they think about waste,” they said.

To meet its green targets, Malta will have to landfill no more than 55,000 tons annually, less than 40 per cent of the current amount

The Cabinet is reviewing a plan for a “big push” towards recycling and waste separation.

Joe Attard, the CEO of waste separation firm Green MT, said that Malta was miles away from meeting its 2020 targets on landfilling.

“By 2020, which is around the corner, we should have halved the amount of garbage we were landfilling in 1995.

“That is going to be impossible,” he said.

To meet its green targets, Malta will have to landfill no more than 55,000 tons annually, less than 40 per cent of the current amount.

Mr Attard has for a long time been calling for a focus on waste separation, which he feels has been forgotten by the authorities.

He said that residents and companies were not being encouraged to separate waste and doing so depended exclusively on their benevolence.

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