A private operator was engaged by the government to remove recyclable waste bags piling up in Gozo due to a dispute between local councils and a service provider, Times of Malta was told.

The social media was full of footage and images of the mounds of grey bags filled with recyclables by the roadside. Residents in Xlendi said large bins meant for recyclable waste at the entrance of the popular seaside village were overflowing with grey bags and waste spilling onto the pavement.

Read: Gozo's recycling clash leads to piles of roadside garbage

The Environment and Resources Authority contracted a private firm to collect the waste in a number of Gozitan localities as a stop gap solution, the Times of Malta is informed.

The Sunday Times of Malta reported last month that more than half of Gozo could soon end up in a mess without the proper collection of recyclable waste.

Some local councils are refusing to pay an extra premium for the service provider to empty and clean the bring-in sites in their localities.

Local councils are refusing to pay a premium for the service provider

Green MT, a subsidiary of the Chamber of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (GRTU), had informed seven councils in Gozo and one in Malta they would need to start paying for the service as from September 1.

Government ministries held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation and, as an interim measure, decided to hire a private firm to collect the bags.

Through a Facebook post, Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana pointing her finger at the contractor.

The environment watchdog has written to Green MT, urging it to continue providing the service to the councils, however, the company is resisting and the competent tribunal is not due to start hearing the case before November. It, therefore, appears an early solution is unlikely.

Green MT claimed that its rival, GreenPak, had saved “hundreds of thousands of euros” when local councils forked out public funds and paid waste collectors between July 2013 and November 2017.

In reaction, GreenPak reserved the right to take legal action on the allegation.