Recent waste disposal regulations which fuelled controversy were “the best ever”, Environment Minister Jose Herrera insisted as he refuted criticism that they were riddled with mistakes.

He lashed out at Opposition shadow minister Jason Azzopardi for tabling an “irresponsible” motion to repeal this legal notice.

Dr Herrera made these remarks at a news conference in which he unveiled the Resource, Recovery and Recycling Agency, which will be headed by engineer Marc Muscat, who was the ministry’s consultant on the entity.

On Sunday, The Sunday Times of Malta reported that a legal notice published recently ahead of the launch of nationwide organic waste collection scheme had for some reason exempted most localities.

Consequently, these laws could not be enforced in all localities. Collection of organic waste from households is scheduled to start at the end of this month.

On Tuesday, the Opposition filed a parliamentary motion to repeal what it described as “amateurish” regulations, and called on the government to hold public consultations before presenting a new one.

Dr Azzopardi questioned whether Minister Herrera had read the regulations before they were published.

But Dr Herrera on Thursday refuted the claims and insisted there were no mistakes. He accused Times of Malta of being “disloyal” to the facts but acknowledged that the regulations would have to change for the scheme to be enforceable.

Dr Herrera remarked that the legal notice had been drafted by lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell, himself, and the Environment Resources Authority.

“This is a very good law and it has no defects whatsoever,” he insisted.

The minister also took issue with the motion filed by Dr Azzopardi, saying the Opposition wanted to repeal all the regulations rather than the section at the heart of the controversy.

During the news conference, the media was briefed on the role of the new agency which will, among other things, oversee the launch of the beverage container refund scheme.

Its overriding function will be to speed up Malta’s efforts to promote the circular economy - the term used to describe an economy geared towards reusing resources as much as possible and limiting waste disposal to a minimum.

Asked about a potential conflict of interest in view of the fact that the agency was led by the same person who was involved in its setting up, Dr Herrera insisted this was not the case.

He said that nobody on the island was better qualified for the post than Mr Muscat.

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