The holistic policy regarding single-use plastics that the Environment and Resources Authority is currently preparing will deal with plastic used in feasts and festivities, Environment Minister Jose Herrera confirmed with The Malta Independent.
The firing of plastic confetti during the Summer Carnival in Marsascala this year raised many eyebrows, and caused concern among environmentalists, given that said confetti ended up in the bay itself. This was not an isolated incident, environmentalist and founder of the group Malta Clean up Cami Appelgren had told this newsroom, while also highlighting balloon releases as another environmental issue, given that the balloons most likely end up in the sea.
Recently, a necropsy on a dead leatherback turtle noted that the animal had been severely weakened by ingestion of plastic material which was found in the intestines, showing the damage to marine life plastic litter creates. The turtle had died from pneumonia that developed into a generalised inflammation.
The Malta Independent asked Herrera about plastic use during feasts and mass festivities. The Minister stressed that "without any doubt, we need to look at these aspects differently, and we need to regulate and legislate. Early this summer I directed ERA to prepare a holistic policy for single use plastic, and I also indicated to ERA to include plastic used in feasts and festivities, including plastic confetti."
"It is not on to use plastic confetti," he said.
"Hopefully in the coming months I will have the holistic policy in hand with the relative legislation drafted for me to take to Cabinet.
"I am also seriously addressing plastic bottles which are a major contributor to plastic waste, especially in the oceans. A council will be appointed by law to supervise the bottle refund stream and other recyclable waste streams in the coming days. The incinerator will tackle 35-40% of waste, he said, adding that he wants to recycle the rest and minimise landfilling as much as possible. To do this, he said, he has to introduce different waste streams, the most important of which is the bottle refund scheme.
The minister asked specifically about balloon releases, said that it is also being considered and was on the Terms of Reference he had sent to ERA.
Last May, government asked the Environment and Resources Authority to draw up a strategy and legal framework to effectively address the use of single-use plastic.
"European Commission statistics show that single use plastic is used once for five minutes, but takes 500 years to disintegrate. Malta is following this issue closely, and over the past weeks a number of initiatives were announced aimed at reducing, recycling or reusing plastic," a government statement had read at the time.
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