Bio-waste is addressed within a number of legal instruments. The Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) defines bio-waste as biodegradable garden and park waste, food and kitchen waste from households, offices, restaurants, wholesale, canteens, caterers and retail premises and comparable waste from food processing plants. The Landfill Regulations (S.L.549.29) go further and define biodegradable waste as any waste that is capable of undergoing anaerobic or aerobic decomposition, such as food and garden waste, and paper and paperboard.

Image describing what is bio-waste. Biodegradable garden & park waste + biodegradable food * kitchen waste.

The recently amended Directive 2008/98/EC addresses general waste management requirements, which also contain specific bio-waste related elements (new recycling targets for household waste, which can include bio-waste) and a mechanism allowing the setting of quality criteria for compost (end-of-waste criteria). It further provides that by 2023, Member States need to ensure that bio-waste is either separated and recycled at source, or is collected separately and not mixed with other types of waste.

The main negative environmental impact of bio-waste is the production of methane from such waste decomposing in landfills, which accounts for a portion of total greenhouse gas emissions. In order to minimise the negative impacts from bio-waste in landfills, the Landfill Regulations oblige the Maltese Islands to by 2020 reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) landfilled to 35% of total BMW generated in 2002.

Separate collection of the organic waste from households was introduced in 2015 as a pilot project in nine localities in Malta and the entire region of Gozo. It has since been introduced on a national scale since the last quarter of 2018. The frequency of kerbside collection per locality is set out in Schedule 3 of S.L.549.40 – the Abandonment, Dumping and Disposal of Waste in Streets and Public Places or Areas Regulations.