It can never be stressed enough how the scourge of rubbish plaguing Malta’s streets and open spaces is a matter of dire concern, and one that impinges, perhaps more than any other matter, directly on residents’ visible quality of life.
Rubbish on the islands is omnipresent and all-pervasive, it is literally everywhere you look from city streets to village lanes, and from the countryside to the roadsides, and the closer one looks, the more one sees.
It is all well and good to send out armies of street sweepers to clean up after ourselves but, really and truly, what exactly will it take address the problem at the source: the polluters’ hands.
In what is an extremely positive move, the government yesterday laid out a new set of proposed rules and penalties for dumping, which should go some way toward reducing the garbage menace plaguing the country.
While what was unveiled yesterday is a positive step in the right direction, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Some years ago littering contraventions were coupled with steeper fines, but rubbish and plastic waste does not seem to have abated. It would be interesting to review the local wardens’ track record in dispensing littering fines on the spot, and to see how we could improve on those numbers drastically.
That is because while it is all well and good, fantastic actually, to crack down on those unscrupulous individuals dumping waste in valleys and anywhere else on the island where they think they can get away with it, it is also the small time contravener – the person who throws and empty packet out of their car window or who drops their wrappers onto the street without a second thought – that really adds up.
In the meantime, the environment ministry also said it would be reviewing its fruit and milk programme for schools so as to eliminate single-use plastics from the supply chain.
In fact, Malta could go a step further. Here is one way that Malta could truly be the best in Europe: being a small country, we are that much more agile, and change can be enacted quicker than other larger, more lumbering economies.
And with the plastic menace threatening the world’s oceans and seas in an unprecedented manner, we in Malta have an extra onus as we are right smack in the middle of the sea and our plastic waste is all the more likely to end up in the sea.
The European Union this week moved to ban many commonplace single use plastic items such as straws, cotton buds, cutlery, balloon sticks and drink stirrers. The plan, if approved by the bloc’s 28 member states, is expected avoid 3.4 million tonnes of carbon emissions, prevent damage to the environment that would cost the equivalent of €22 billion by 2030 and actually save consumers some €6.5 billion.
But we do not necessarily need to wait for the rest of the EU on this one, and Malta could be a real trendsetter if we were to implement that zero single-use plastic waste policy ourselves before being forced into it by the EU.
Original article found on The Malta Independent