The wind blows plastic waste from Magħtab towards the sea

Updated at 2:24 p.m. with comments from green NGOs

Plastic bags and other waste from the Magħtab landfill were filmed blowing out to sea and into the surrounding natural land.

On Thursday morning, Times of Malta videographer Jonathan Borg captured a large amount of plastic bags blown away by Force 7 winds.

Some were captured in the surrounding scrubland, others ended up in tree branches while others were swept out to the Mediterranean Sea.

The high winds sent plastic bags flying all over the coast. Video: Jonathan Borg

Scientists say the plastic can take over 400 years to decompose and is incredibly damaging to marine life. It can also end up in the food chain because microplastics are eaten by plankton, themselves eaten by fish, which end up on our plates.

The Meteorological Bureau issued an orange weather warning for Thursday, urging caution in the face of very strong winds which are expected to reach gale force at certain times of the day. Winds are south to southeast at force 7 to force 8, becoming strong south to southwest then veering to a moderate to fairly strong northwest overnight.

The weather alert is valid until 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

In January, the Planning Authority approved plans to build a €160 million waste-to-energy plant, which is expected to be able to process 40% of all waste in Malta.

When the government first announced the project in 2019, it estimated that the site would be operational by 2023. Dubbed the ECOHIVE complex, the site will also include a new recycling facility and a biological treatment plant.

A National Audit Office report found that in 2019 Malta only recycled one percent of its plastic waste, with the majority, 58 percent, ending up in landfill.

According to its long-term waste management plans, Malta aims to recycle at least 55% of household waste by 2025, rising to 60% by 2030 and up to 65% by 2035.

“Malta has a very poor record when it comes to waste management. Not only are we failing to meet our European targets, we are not even properly managing the Magħtab waste ‘management’ site,” said Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar coordinator Astrid Vella. Malta weather.

“Although Magħtab is considered ‘just a dump’, it actually covers an ecologically significant site and adjoins a Bronze Age burial site, with the highly scheduled Victoria Lines nearby, all of which will be affected.”

She added that the failure of the waste to be properly contained has very serious implications, she continued, as the area between Gozo and il-Qaliet is a highly protected marine area.

“Letting dust and plastic waste flow into the sea has huge negative implications for marine life, even beyond our shores. Running turtle protection programs and then allowing that to happen is deplorable.

A spokesperson for Moviment Graffitti said that when the government launched its long-term waste management plan, the NGO was concerned that these plans might not be sufficient due to a lack of preparation .

“Unfortunately, it looks like we were right,” she said. “While we understand the economic realities behind waste management, we would like to emphasize that it is also important to remember the economic, social and human costs behind the destruction of nature through the production of waste, such as what we have seen today. This alone should be enough to justify the necessary change in waste management.

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Bryce K. Locke