Malta’s Economic Vision 2021-2031
Pillar 4 - The Environment

Let’s not call waste, waste anymore!

It’s no secret that waste in Malta is, to put it frankly, a massive problem. During 2019, municipal waste generation increased by 7.3 per cent over the previous year to a total of 349,576 tonnes (source: NSO statistics news release 197/2020)! Shocking right?

During Malta’s Economic Vision 2021-2031 conference, when discussing The Environment, a particular focus was given towards the need to define better systems in improving waste management. This vision included initiatives such as adopting what is called a circulatory approach rather than a linear one. This basically means making the best use of our resources rather than throwing them away.

Our CEO, Ing. Mario Schembri was invited as a panellist for this conference and he rightly pointed out that although exciting that the environment is seen as a driver for the economy, and although the idea of adopting a circulatory system is in theory a correct approach – no vision can be made possible or put to action unless there is a change in people’s mind set.

Simply put, Mr Schembri says that “if we stop calling waste, waste, that alone is already a step into changing how people perceive what waste actually is”. Changing the definition of waste in this way could in turn change people’s mindset which in turn will change their behaviour.

Sacrifice and Discipline

It is crucial that people start making more sacrifices and putting in more effort on how waste is handled. Currently, waste is seen as the “end of a pipeline”, says Mr. Schembri. He goes on explaining that “if we take a look at nature, and as any biologist will tell you, nothing actually ever goes to waste. Everything in nature has a repurpose – the end ‘waste’ of one process is the ingredient to another process. Nothing is lost or wasted.” If we see waste in this light then our mind set quickly becomes redirected as to how we should actually be handling our waste on a daily basis, in our home, at our work place, in our schools and so forth.

During a study conducted by Mr Schembri and his team, where he was asked to consult on how many bins are needed on the Comino island - the answer was in fact zero! Why? It is far easier, more cost effective and better for the environment if visitors to Comino simply take back with them whatever they have not consumed after their stay. Here we can understand how a change in perspective, small and simple as it may be, can ultimately lead to a big change.

Small steps in changing your mindset!

Let’s look at waste management as a marriage between the physical side and mental side of things. The physical side being the systems provided to accommodate people’s behaviour: rubbish bins, recycling plants, waste collection etc. and the mental side being people’s mindset, sacrifice and discipline. Only then, if we have both sides working hand-in-hand, will we able to make Malta’s vision in safeguarding the environment a reality.
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