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Turning waste into wealth - Malta’s journey towards a cleaner, greener, future | Matthias Iannis Portelli

From doubters to dreamers, the Beverage Container Refund Scheme (BCRS) has defied expectations by recycling a whopping 100 million containers in just over seven months since its launch. This success story is a testament to the power of collective action and a greener vision for our island. However, while strides have been made, it’s clear we must reevaluate our approach to a nationwide waste collection system to truly elevate our communities and environments.

In our fair islands, while the waste collection system originally seemed like a good idea, it is clear that there are discrepancies. This has put a damper on our locality’s charm and beauty, affecting not only our mood but also the well-being of our inhabitants. The issues of uncollected garbage, pest problems, the stench of organic waste left in the sun, and the lack of cohesion in garbage disposal have become painfully evident, especially during the scorching summer heatwaves we experienced this year.

The excessive amount of rubbish on the streets outside of designated collection days is now a national emergency. Above all, it is because of these issues that our towns and cities' aesthetics are suffering. It’s disheartening to witness dirty streets, garbage scattered everywhere, the occasional pest or two, and persistent stench, especially during the summer days when the organic waste makes things worse. This also impacts our country’s image. Considering our reliance on the tourist industry, how can we effectively promote our country with all this clutter and disruptions that tarnish its beautiful image?

Malta is like a rough ore that desperately needs polishing to reveal its true beauty. It’s high time for action from the authorities to address these waste collection issues and restore the charm and cleanliness that define our beloved islands

Sliema Mayor John Pillow has already suggested several measures, and we at Volt would like to propose an additional, long-term solution. We believe that creating designated areas within our communities for underground refuse systems can help tackle this issue effectively for the long term.

Underground Refuse Bins

In our bustling towns and cities, the issue of waste management has reached a critical juncture. Overflowing dumpsters, unsightly trash heaps, and the constant struggle to keep our streets clean have become the norm. It’s time for a transformative solution: underground refuse bins.

Urbanisation is on the rise, and with it, the generation of municipal waste has soared to unprecedented heights. Traditional waste disposal methods are no longer adequate, leading to environmental pollution, health hazards, aesthetic depreciation, and an overall decline in the quality of urban life. The underground refuse bins are a game-changing solution to address the long-term waste problems faced by mass urban localities. Underground refuse bins offer a discreet, space-saving, and eco-friendly solution to these pressing challenges.

Although the initial investment may seem substantial, it should be viewed as an investment in a smarter, more sustainable future. These innovative systems reshape urban waste management, offering discreet and cost-effective solutions that significantly cut expenses by reducing collection frequency and maintenance requirements. Excelling in space efficiency, concealing waste in subterranean chambers to declutter our urban spaces. This, in turn, liberates precious surface areas for pedestrian zones while elevating aesthetics by concealing unsightly litter. These systems prioritise hygiene and odor control, effectively deterring pests and promoting healthier living environments. It’s out of sight, out of mind - this is the future waste collection, a brighter, more efficient tomorrow for us all.

What’s more, they contribute to the well-being and environmental sustainability of our communities by providing separate compartments for recycling and general waste, thereby reducing contamination and fostering sustainability practices. Lastly, they are automated collection systems, reducing both fuel consumption and emissions, making it an all rounded climate friendlier solution.

In its drive towards a circular economy, Europe mandates ambitious recycling and landfill reduction targets. By 2025, the EU-27 aims to have 55% of municipal waste and 65% of packaging waste ready for re-use or recycling. The time has come for us to play our part thoughtfully and energetically, spearheading this transformation in the Mediterranean. Through innovative waste collection and sustainable practices, we pave the way for a brighter, greener future.

Underground refuse bins represent a vital step in addressing long-term waste issues, promising cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable localities for generations to come - an idea worth digging into.