Updated Saturday am

At least 50 people are expected to be taken to court in October after being caught on camera committing over 100 illegal dumping-related offences at Żebbuġ bring-in sites in a span of 10 weeks, Times of Malta is informed.

Waste management service provider GreenPak Malta teamed up with the local council and the Cleansing Department earlier this summer and installed CCTV cameras at two of the eight bring-in sites in Żebbuġ.

The three entities have also been working closely with the police, who analysed the footage to identify the perpetrators.

The footage, some of which can be seen in the video above, shows individuals driving up to the sites in Eugenio Borg and Adeodata Gatt streets and dumping all sorts of waste next to the recycling bins.

The material left there included cardboard boxes, bags full of rubbish, metal bed-frames, construction debris and even animal carcasses. Some of the people were seen dumping waste on more than one occasion.

Hopefully, the penalties would match the crime

Though it was aware of the rampant abuse at such sites, especially in Żebbuġ, the GreenPak team viewing the CCTV footage was “shocked” to realise that so many people chose the sites to relieve themselves when nature called. In one case, a man could be seen defecating near the skips, and in another two men walk up to the site to urinate.

Speaking to this newspaper about the pilot project – which has been in the works since last year after the service provider was flooded with complaints about the abuse – GreenPak CEO Mario Schembri said that unless effective action was taken against those dumping illegally, the problem would not go away.

“We’re in a situation where these people are being justified in their actions.

“They dump illegally and, within a few hours, the area is cleaned up. That’s a great service to have, but these people would not realise that what they are doing is wrong,” Mr Schembri said.

Pressing charges against those caught illegally dumping waste would, therefore, be a game-changer because it would finally be made clear that such a practice had serious consequences, he noted.

“Through these arraignments we would like to send out a clear message that people cannot go on getting away with such things and that action is being taken. Hopefully, the penalties would match the crime,” Mr Schembri added.

Talks with other local councils to install CCTV systems at various sites are already well underway, he said. Mr Schembri felt he had to point out that the perpetrators were caught over quite a short period of time.

Asked why GreenPak was striving to eradicate the problem despite littering not falling directly within its remit, Mr Schembri said it was useless encouraging people to recycle but not addressing the issue of illegal dumping.

“We are also resisting the pressure from residents and councils to immediately clean up the area because that is not good at all. We will not be addressing the issue by simply clearing up the area but not taking any action,” he added.

Mr Schembri said the problem of widespread littering boiled down to people not being aware such behaviour was wrong and that was because of lax enforcement. “The real issue lies in the fact that these people are not being penalised. That is the problem and it’s high time we start naming and shaming,” he said.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us