the end of a journey – Joe Attard

Since 1995, local councils have been responsible for waste management in their locality. A duration of 27 years. It has been a remarkable journey and, despite ups and downs, there has never been a single day when service has not been provided at a town hall.

The business community, represented by the Authorized Schemes, GreenMt and GreenPak Coop, have been part of this journey since March 2010. Previously, the business community funded curbside recyclables collection in a smaller number of councils premises since July 2009. And before that, the “Recycle Tuesday” initiative was introduced by the government in April 2008.

All of this involved long hours of consultation with many stakeholders, mainly the Department of Local Government, MEPA, local councils, Chamber of SMEs, waste haulers and WasteServ Malta Ltd.

Consultations were also held with different sections of society. The administration at the time met with workers, university students, housewives, shift workers, educators and retirees. I vividly remember those meetings, a long process that eventually culminated in “The Recycling Tuesday” initiative.

The business community, together with the stakeholders and mainly the goodwill of each local council, brought about the change. The introduction of door-to-door gray or green bag collection has become the order of the day. Eventually, glass collection was also included in the program paid for by the business community.

The business community led by Schemes, Green Mt and GreenPak Coop has individual agreements with local councils every two years. Once again, local councils have played a major role in these deals and each council has made different demands, including the provision of free recycling bags, drop off sites, CCTV and education campaigns on cleaning the ‘environment. The local councils held firm and the negotiations were never easy, but we always came to an agreement.

It was a remarkable trip-Joe Attard

Later, the government led by WasteServ Malta Ltd introduced bio bag collection, again after a lengthy consultation process.

In recent years, door-to-door collection of organic waste has increased considerably, but again the first actor, local authorities, has played an important role in encouraging households to sort waste at source.

The business community applauds local councils and their residents for driving change in waste management. We must not forget to mention the collection of bulky items which has been the responsibility of the municipalities for many years and which went very well.

It was a remarkable journey, which allowed me to meet so many mayors, executive secretaries, elected officials, waste carriers, authorities and their representatives in so many ministries. I must also mention the events we have organized in many schools and the meetings with headteachers and principals who have supported us and local councils in sorting waste.

As Schemes, GreenMt, we thank you all for being part of this journey. You have all supported us over the past 13 years.

But, as they say, time has a knack for setting the parameters for change and with the introduction of regional councils in 2019, change is now on the horizon. Waste management will be the responsibility of regional councils by the end of 2022. The business community represented by Schemes, GreenMt and GreenPak Coop, looked forward to consultations and eventual agreement on the way forward. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

The government decided otherwise, and if as always the door to discussion remained open, Schemes had to apply for an arrest warrant after the government, through the Ministry of Local Government, launched an appeal for services based on six regional tenders. The cease and desist warrant was confirmed on an interim basis. After a full hearing, the courts ruled in favor of the government.

A new voyage began on August 23. It was the deadline for bidders to submit their bids for the provision of the collection of mixed waste, organic waste and recyclable waste from six regions, as established by law.

Each region’s tender document also left the possibility for regional councils to take charge of collections from recycling points and commercial entities.

Once again we thank the local councils and residents of Malta and Gozo for being part of this journey, and we hope this journey will improve in some way thanks to the regional councils with the support of all stakeholders through appropriate consultation at all times.

Joe Attard is CEO of Green Mt.

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