Thursday, 18 June 2009

Meeting with Dr. Chris Ciantar

I would like to dedicate some words to describe Dr. Ciantar, for those who never heard of this man. He is a close advisor to Hon. George Pullicino and a permanent secretary for the Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment. He’s the (1) “Director of Environment Policy and Initiatives within the Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment”; (2) he’s “engaged upon the SEA Audit Team by virtue of his ex-officio status” and (3) he “has been appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers in view of his integrity, professionalism and expertise” (Maltatoday letter on 13 August 2006). Quite a resume given by Emanuel Abela Director of information.

We met Dr. Ciantar to discuss the new incinerator plans, and I must admit that he was very generous to make time from his busy schedule for a small on-campus organization. The incinerator is planned to be build in Delimara, and Greenhouse was concerned that this strategy would provide a cheap and easy way to “take care” unrecyclable waste. This is what he had to say to us….

The aim of a functioning waste strategy is to recapture energy from recycled material. From the waste gathered:

(a) 60% is organic waste (50% of which is water);
(b) 20% is recyclable
(c) And the rest is unrecyclable material such as clothes.

Organic waste ideally goes for digestion; for example wet waste goes to Sant Antnin recycling plant for the digestion procedure. Home waste is more difficult to recycle, compared to bring in site and the usage of grey bags. However this discussion should revolve around the rejects from the waste system.

Exporting waste is very expensive and unwanted. Moreover it has a significant carbon footprint. A landfill solution would be unwise due to the lack of space and the environmental impact would be beyond us. Therefore the only remaining option is incineration. Will it affect the reuse/recycle strategy? According to Dr. Ciantar, no.

Obviously the health risks are not the intention of the government, however we need to keep in mind that the energy needed for the incinerator is technically already there and the chimney is also already there. The challenge is to respect the health directives. Pharmaceutical waste is at the moment being taken to Marsa, but the new technology in Delimara will not be equipped to burn such a waste.

However the question on what this unrecyclable material really entails remains unanswered.

The target for the 2020 is the WEEE directive, which binds Malta to prepare a waste management strategy for hazardous waste.

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