8 NGOs express concern over lack of information on new Wasteserv plant project

Updated 04:16 PM

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Eight NGOs are demanding for more detailed and technical information on the proposed new waste-to-energy system to be made public.

In a joint statement, Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Isles of the Left, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, Ramblers Malta and The Archaeological Society Malta said that they welcome the government’s plan to invest in new waste management facilities and start addressing Malta’s waste management problem but more information needs to be disclosed.

The NGOs explained that;

  • The incineration and thermal conversion do not qualify as renewable energy and it would be wrong to deceive the public into thinking that it does
  • The size of the waste-to-energy plant should be kept to a minimum so as to cater for waste which currently cannot be recycled
  • Apart from the required environmental impact assessment, a social impact assessment should also be carried out before any definitive decision to go ahead with this project is taken
  • Detailed studies about carbon dioxide and other potentially hazardous emissions are vital to understand how this waste management plant will impact the neighbouring towns and villages and must not be overlooked

The eight NGOs said that they are primarily concerned that a waste-to-energy system could potentially lead to excessive waste generation and that Maltese society as a whole needs to understand that we need to make a collective effort to start recycling more and implement practices that will help us minimise waste generation and reach our targets.

The NGOs said that in order to achieve this Malta needs to have a robust Waste Management Plan and that we cannot keep manufacturing, producing and recycling paper, plastics, metals and alloys indefinitely.

They also said that materials which cannot be reutilised or regenerated and thus do not fall within the circular economy, should be phased out and eventually banned.

“Although a waste-to-energy system is a decisive improvement over dumping waste in engineered landfills, we must realise that it should not be presented as the only possible solution” – said the NGOs.

They are also proposing further studies on the incinerator’s potential cooling system since warm water will be discharged into the sea in the Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq area.

According to the NGOs this will inevitably leave a negative impact on the marine environment in the process, including the protected seagrass, Posidonia meadows. Din l-Art Ħelwa, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Isles of the Left, Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, Moviment Graffitti, Ramblers Malta and The Archaeological Society Malta are of the opinion that the sacrifice of 83 tumoli – 9 hectares of arable land is still excessive and unnecessary for this kind of project.

The project involves a revamped waste management policy -Wasteserv

Wasteserv has welcomed the statement from the NGOs but has underlined a number of other aspects.

In reply to the NGOs statement, Wasteserv said that detailed studies are currently underway, and amongst various other fields, these cover air quality with laborious air dispersion assessments and models, and the required marine ecology studies.

The entity said that the new plant project cannot be seen in isolation. It has also clarified that the size of the plant has been determined after extensive studies which have taken into account past waste trends and EU waste-related targets.

The plant’s design is also being thought with operational flexibility in mind and its capacity is split into two lines that can be operated separately, said Wasteserv which also explained that the country needs to move away from predominant reliance on landfilling and agricultural land needs to be safeguarded. In line with agricultural sustainability, it was mentioned how one of the plants, the organic processing plant, will produce high-quality agricultural grade compost.

Wasteserv stated that the project involves a revamped waste management policy that will be launched in the coming months by the government.