The government’s proposed waste-to-energy plant will be built in Magħtab and will process 40 per cent of all Malta’s waste, Environment Minister José Herrera announced on Wednesday.
The facility will cost between €120 million and €150 million and will be a public-private partnership. The process is expected to start next year and works are scheduled for completion by 2023.
Mr Herrera said the 5,000 square metre plant would process 114,000 tons of waste every year: all the waste that will be left over once the country reaches its recycling target of 60 per cent. To help in achieving this target, recycling at source will become mandatory with the introduction of new legislation.
The announcement accompanied the publication of a report commissioned by the government into the preferred technology and capacity of the new plant.
Mr Herrera said the technology chosen was moving grate combustion, which is used at the vast majority of similar plants worldwide.
Paul Frith, from the firm Frith Resource Management which compiled the report, said the facility would have a lower climate change impact than landfills.
He insisted there would be only a minimal impact on air quality - within industrial emissions limits - which was one of the major concerns raised by stakeholders on the government’s waste-to-energy committee. Globally, he added, similar plants had been installed in city centres without negative impacts.
Malta currently generates 647 kilograms of waste per person every year, above the EU above of 420 kilograms.
At this rate, the Għallis landfill is set to reach capacity within two years and the government will be using a hazardous material dump to take ordinary waste as a stop-gap until the new plant is built.
Only 15 per cent of waste is currently recycled and the 60 per cent target is not expected to be reached by 2023, when the plant will be operational.
Until then, the government is hoping to address the situation through new waste streams including the bottle return programme and new water treatment technology, apart from using hazardous material dumps.
Mr Herrera said the push to increase recycling will be driven by legal changes introducing penalties for households and businesses which did not separate their waste, and the setting-up of an enforcement unit within the Environment and Resources Authority to ensure compliance.
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