The Maltese Government needs to do much more when it comes to waste management, Nationalist MEP Francis Zammit Dimech said. One cannot pretend to collect waste from a beach and erect a white flag and solve the issue, he added,
Following an official reply received from the European Commission to a question he had raised on the controversial White Flag initiative, Zammit Dimech welcome the fact that no EU funds have been used on the white flag initiative as confirmed by the Commission. “I also welcome the initiatives taken by the Commission for its strategy on plastics in the European Union. At the European Parliament we have taken a clear position against the use of single-use plastic calling for single-use cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers to be banned from 2021.”
Meanwhile according to data published by Eurostat, record recycling rates have been recorded across the EU.
Zammit Dimech recalled how other small islands in the Mediterranean had become or are in the process of becoming free form single-use plastics, case in point islands which are few kilometres from our shores such as Pantelleria and Lampedusa. Zammit Dimech said that this requires a culture change. He recalled how the government had launched the EU funded fruit and vegetables scheme not only late but was to date still distributing fruit and vegetables in single-use plastic containers. He said that as an island Malta was duty bound to do more after all it was estimated by the European Commission that 80% of marine litter is plastics. One should keep in mind that the sea is an important resources on which one of our crucial economic sectors – tourism – also depends. He recalled how the EPP group had created an EU wide campaign called plogging to collect waste which had also reached our shores.
Zammit Dimech added that last week’s storm has brought to our shores thousands of pieces of plastic and big efforts are needed to tackle this global challenge and that he would contribute with further clean-up initiatives. He added that whilst the government had set up Ambjent Malta and increased Marine Protected Areas, which were both positive measures, such areas were short of being paper parks as management of such sites was still scant. He added that irrespective of assurances given, challenges with slime were still being noted and thus the government had to step up its efforts.
The government is not giving due priority to the environment and is failing on key issues including when it comes to waste management. Malta stands last when it comes to recycling at a rate of 7%, far away from the 2020 target of 50%. Zammit Dimech recalled how as Minister for the Environment he had worked on the introduction of the Sant Antnin composting plant, implemented a sewage master plan that improved seawater quality and introduced the solid waste management strategy that addressed marine dumping and also sought to convert dumps into parks. He noted how wasn’t it to PN local councillors in Xaghra, the government would have started to use the landfill at Tal-Qortin again.
Furthermore Malta air quality is among the worse in Europe (forth from last) and is getting worse due to traffic and lack of action from the government. Referring to the storm, Zammit Dimech said that several businesses and constituents had informed him how PV panels had been blown away or damaged. In this regard, the government should ensure to assist as much as possible through EU funds and ensure that Malta’s Europe 2020 target of 10% in production of alternative energy is reached.
Original article found on The Malta Independent