Updated at 6pm with PN reaction

A ban on single use plastics, the end of free plastic bags at shops, and restrictions on other non-biodegradable products are among the green measures set to be implemented in the next few years.

Other incentives include the introduction of “packaging free” areas in supermarkets, and the controversial announced beverage container refund scheme

The proposed measures were announced at a press conference on Friday by Environment Minister José Herrera who unveiled the government’s single use plastic strategy.

The local strategy document, which is open for public feedback for the next six weeks, mirrors an EU policy adopted back in January.

Times of Malta first reported on plans for the policy last year. 

The PN said in a statement on Friday evening that it was committed to the phasing out of single-use plastic, and that this formed part of its manifesto for the European Parliament elections.

It also pointed out that a Labour minister had removed the eco-contribution originally introduced by the Nationalists 10 years ago as an environmentally-friendly measure.

How does the government plan to fight single use plastic? 

Eliminate single-use plastic products

• By 2021, a number of single use plastic items would be prohibited from the local market in view of the readily available and economically feasible alternatives available.

Encourage waste separation at source

• By 2022, all tourist accommodation establishments, including hotels, hostels, guesthouses as well as holiday premises and yacht marinas would have to provide guests with bins for the separate collection of plastic waste. 

Make it easier not to litter

• By 2020, the government planned to provide bins for the separate collection of plastic waste in coastal areas, camping sites, picnic areas and touristic zones.

Protect Maltese waters

• The use of fishing gear made from plastics and nylon should be progressively substituted to gear made from more sustainable material.

• By 2022, the use of polystyrene in fishing activities should be restricted and substituted by reusable plastic floats or other sustainable material.

• By 2024, an extended producer responsibility scheme should be established for fishing gear containing plastic and placed on the market.

Encourage the reduction of plastic carrier bags use, and increase use of reusable bags

• By 2022, all kinds of plastic carrier bags would not be distributed for free at points of sale.

If consumers required a bag, they would have to buy it.

This would encourage consumers to use reusable shopping bags. The excise duty imposed on such bags would also be increased. The move towards imposing an excise duty on plastic carrier bags  had first been introduced in the 2008-2013 PN administration.  

Ensure packaging-free areas in supermarkets

• By 2022, a voluntary scheme should be set up to encourage supermarkets to provide packaging-free areas from where customers would only be able to buy selected food products without plastic packaging. This would encourage consumers to move towards reusable containers, reducing plastic waste.

Separate collection for valuable waste streams

By 2022, a return or refillable system should be introduced, where consumers who returned or refilled containers used for washing preparations, and other personal care products, might benefit from a reward scheme.

No to harmful entertainment

• By 2020, the release of balloons and plastic confetti would not be allowed during public events to avoid having these items end in the marine environment.

Measures affecting smokers

• By 2022, producers of tobacco and tobacco products would have to finance the provision of ashtrays at beaches and beach resorts.

• From 2023, producers of tobacco products with filters and filters marketed for use in combination with tobacco products should at least cover  the cost of:

awareness raising measures;

the cleaning-up of litter; and

the collection of such waste discarded in the public collection system.

This might include the installation of bins for cigarette filters in common litter hotspots.

The entire list of proposed measures can be read in the pdf link below.