Maltese people were the second-highest generators of everyday rubbish in Europe in 2016, generating an average of 647kg per person per year, according to Eurostat.
The amount of municipal waste generated varied significantly across the EU Member States. Denmark (777 kg per person) generated the highest amount of waste in 2016, followed by Malta (647 kg per person), Cyprus (640 kg per person), Germany (626 kg per person) and Luxembourg (614 kg per person).
On the other hand, with 261 kg per person, Romania generated the lowest amount of waste, followed by Poland (307 kg per person), the Czech Republic (339 kg per person) and Slovakia (348 kg per person).
The average amount of municipal waste generated per person in 2016 amounted to 480 kg, down by 9 per cent compared with its peak of 527 kg per person in 2002, and roughly comparable to the 483 kg recorded in 2015.
The share of municipal waste recycled or composted in the EU has steadily increased over the time period, from 17 per cent in 1995 to 46 per cent in 2016. 47 per cent of all the waste generated in the EU was recycled or composted – 30 per cent of the waste was recycled, 27 per cent incinerated, 25 per cent landfilled and 17 per cent composted.
Across Member States, recycling and composting together accounted in 2016 for two-thirds of waste treatment in Germany (66 per cent), and for more than half in Austria (59 per cent), Belgium (54 per cent), the Netherlands (53 per cent) and Italy (51 per cent).
When it comes to recycling, the news is more encouraging. While figures released in Parliament seemed to indicate that exports of recycled waste were dropping, collection is doing better than ever, GreenPak said.
GreenPak CEO Mario Schembri explained that Government entity Wasteserv is responsible for managing recycled waste, not collecting it, and that, the cooperative last year recovered 22,136 tonnes of waste, a 25 per cent increase over 2016.
“It was particularly encouraging to note that in 2017 we collected 3,378 tonnes of plastic waste resulting in a nine per cent increase over 2016. This means we have managed to recover the equivalent of 57 per cent of the plastic packaging our business partners put on the market,” he said.
Reacting to the figures released in Parliament, Ing. Schembri said the drop in Wasteserv’s exportation figures could be a consequence of the large fire that engulfed most of the Sant’ Antnin waste treatment plant last year.
“I’m not alarmed by the rate of recycling in Malta. As a country there has been a marked improvement in people’s attitudes and behaviour, even though we could be moving at a quicker rate,” Mr Schembri said.
“As GreenPak we are committed to protecting the environment and we welcome Environment Minister Jose Herrera's recent announcement that the government is working on new laws to make recycling compulsory,” he added.
A previous version of this article stated that recycling figures were down. This article has been corrected and updated with the statement from GreenPak.