Waste Management, together with land use and tourism, have been major campaigns for Friends of the Earth Malta throughout the years, extending as far back as 1993.
In the early 90s, Friends of the Earth Malta ran a campaign to promote alternatives to plastic shopping bags, where we distributed informational material and free calico shopping bags in three major supermarkets. In addition, the organisation had supported one leading supermarket in introducing a plastic, reusable and collapsible shopping box that would save 9 regular plastic shopping bags.
Other activities around this time included the promotion of home composting as a mitigation measure against Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), lobbying for increased recycling targets, a campaign to retain refillable soft drink bottles in view of Malta’s accession to the European Union, and also providing insights for Malta’s first ever Waste Management Strategy.
As part of our continued work, Friends of the Earth Malta continues to lobby and raise public awareness, with the aim of establishing concrete waste management policies that promote sustainability, resource use reduction, recycling, and composting.
With a surface area of 316 km2 and a population of over 420,000 individuals, Malta is the most densely populated country in the European Union. Factoring in the ever-increasing number of tourists visiting the Maltese Islands annually (1.8 Million in 2015, projected to pass 2 Million in 2016), the country’s resources are steadily becoming strained.
Around 22% of the Maltese Islands are urbanised, making overdevelopment a pressing environmental issue that has been a consistent cause of loss of biodiversity, natural landscapes, and agricultural land.
In recent years, the property market has boomed significantly, so the demand for used and virgin land is also increasing. With the 2011 census indicating over 70,000 vacant properties, there is much cause for concern over land use for development.
Friends of the Earth Malta campaigns against needless development that is destroying out environmental and cultural heritage, the country’s tourism potential, and its adverse impact on public health. We believe that current development patterns constitute a case of gross environmental injustice against today’s citizens, and is totally against the rights of future generations that should be able to enjoy Malta’s very limited open space.
Malta is a very dry country. Apart from the being the most water poor country in the EU, it is listed as one of the top ten water poorest countries in the world alongside the likes of Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. With groundwater being the only source of potable freshwater in the Maltese Islands, over-extraction is severely depleting this limited resource.
We believe that the extraction of groundwater should be heavily regulated to curb illegal practices, especially when it comes to agriculture, the use in industry (including beverage companies), commercial establishments, and privately owned swimming pools.
Considering that the Reverse Osmosis plants already consume a large percentage of our electricity (and contribute to GHG emissions), an imminent water crisis would put additional burden on the energy sector and the public. Friends of the Earth Malta will continue to campaign for legal and just water use practices in the Maltese Islands.