From the start of this year until the 26th June 2019, The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) caught 117 people red-handed taking out domestic waste on the wrong days, or taking out their waste well before collection time. The largest amount of perpetrators were in Qawra and Buġibba (55), followed by Marsaskala (26).
Around 14 ERA officials do rounds around Malta and Gozo at least twice a week and issue administrative fines of €150 when people are caught red-handed. These rounds happen both during the day and at night, till the early hours of the morning. The Local Enforcement System Agency (LESA) are also responsible for enforcement on this matter and ERA’s role as regulator is different from the role of waste collection.
As of October last year, ERA officials started monitoring cities and towns spread across the north and the south of the island, including Gozo. During the first three months of conducting these exercises, ERA took on an educative role, explaining to people rather than issuing fines straight away. Officials explained to people caught red-handed on the importance of taking out the correct waste bin, on the right dates and timing as stipulated by the law.
ERA also intervenes when people dispose of their waste on the floor next to Bring-In Sites, rather than depositing their items in the correct bin. Fines are also administered to those who take out their waste more than four hours before waste is collected and those who take out their waste the night before. This applies to all types of waste, including restaurant waste and waste generated from shops, unless there are arrangements whereby the owners of these establishments have their own private collectors, collecting waste at reasonable timings. ERA has also come across cases whereby individuals are caught stealing organic waste bags, which is an illegal act.
As of January this year, ERA started issuing administrative fines. During January 2019, 13 fines were issued, followed by 32 in February 2019. It is imperative to understand that in order for fines to be administered, ERA must actually witness individuals in the act. Therefore these numbers only reflect the number of people who happened to be conducting wrongdoings at a specific time and place. Those being fined are both Maltese and foreigners, and all perpetrators may take matters to court rather than pay the administrative fines.
Director Mario Schembri, in charge of the Compliance and Enforcement Directorate within ERA, appealed to the public to adhere to the rules stipulated by law when it comes to separating and taking out their waste bags, as indicated by their respective Local Councils. He reminded the public that administrative fines cost €150 and if matters are taken to court, the expenses are likely to increase. Nevertheless, he added that the primary motivation for adhering to waste separation rules should be intrinsic, related to the duties and obligations of every citizen to ensure better environmental practices endorsed by this generation and future ones.