The construction industry is a major generator of construction and demolition waste, which constitutes the largest fraction of solid waste generated in Malta. However, much of this waste can be recycled, salvaged and reused and if disposed of, it should be done responsibly.
However, the treatment of such waste and its disposal continues to occur in the countryside. The Majjistral Park, a Natura 2000 site, has had illegal dumps in the past years, accumulating 2,615 cubic metres of waste. This amount of waste has been estimated in advance of a clean-up initiative organised by the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate change as well as its respective entities – Wasteserv, ERA and the Parks Directorate, which is expected to restore the area known as Għajn Żnuber.
Construction waste arises from refurbishment, renovation, construction, demolition of buildings, civil infrastructure, road planning and maintenance. From all types of construction, inert waste is created along with other waste, such as electrical sockets, wires and drainage pipes.
Small quantities of C&D waste generated by small home refurbishment projects can be taken to one of the Civic Amenity sites. These can be found in Mrieħel, Ħal Far, Luqa, Ta’ Qali, Magħtab and Xewkija.
Construction waste in large quantities or from large-scale projects cannot be disposed of at these sites but should be taken to permitted quarries through the engagement of a permitted waste carrier. This rehabilitates quarries and contributes to an increase in available land space.
Disposal continues to occur in the countryside
Through research initiatives by the University of Malta, the manufacturing of reconstituted stone is in the process of being commercialised. This process was illustrated during a meeting on the circular economy, organised by the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change as part of the Sustainable Development Week 2018. Professor Buhagiar explained how C&D waste is a secondary raw material which can be reprocessed into recycling building material which supersedes that of natural globigerina limestone.
This initiative follows the circular economy principles and opens scope for the ministry to explore the potential opportunities and challenges with this and similar projects, alongside the expertise of the Resource Recovery and Recycling Council. The council will assess circular initiatives and promote the creation of markets for secondary raw materials, while also addressing the generation of construction waste.
It is possible to minimise this waste through alternative initiatives such as websites and social media, which can promote the selling of reusable or recyclable commodities.
Old tiles, marble, wooden doors, windows and even garigors can be removed and resold, prior to demolishing a property. An on-site set-up to separate waste on location would prevent disposal of recyclable and valuable material.
While many C&D materials are often reused or recycled, others may contain hazardous substances which could be harmful to health, if it is not managed correctly. Any waste which contains asbestos, tar, flammable or toxic chemicals must be disposed of separately.
There is also a revival in refurbishing and retaining old items that are found when one is emptying old properties. This can be achieved through upcycling old furniture, which can be revived by using some paint.
Numerous cottage businesses are also arising, offering the service of reviving old furniture, which promotes renovation as opposed to demolition.
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