The total generation of solid waste in Malta during 2021 amounted to 2.5 million tonnes, which is 29.8 per cent less in comparison to the previous year. Hazardous waste increased by 1.5 per cent or 634 tonnes, while non-hazardous waste decreased by 30.1 per cent. The major contributor to this decrease was non-hazardous mineral waste that went down by 35.6 per cent or 1.1 million tonnes. On the other hand, non-hazardous secondary waste that is generated from the mechanical treatment and sorting of waste increased by 32.2 per cent, or 22,374 tonnes (Table 1).
In 2021 waste treatment totalled 2.4 million tonnes, decreasing by 30.4 per cent or 1.0 million tonnes over 2020. All treatment categories showed decreases except for energy recovery that increased from 43 tonnes in 2020 to 13,822 tonnes in 2021. The highest decline was for backfilling that went down by almost 1.0 million tonnes or 55.4 per cent. Recycling also went down by 52,641 tonnes, or 4.0 per cent. The decreases that were associated with disposal at sea, landfilling, and incineration amounted to 24,560 tonnes, 10,711 tonnes and 358 tonnes, respectively (Table 2).
Most of the decreases in waste treatment can be attributed to mineral waste. In fact, the declines in backfilling and disposal at sea are totally attributable to mineral waste, while the decline in the recycling of mineral amounted to 55,985 tonnes (Table 6).
During 2021, the waste input into the Tal-Kus (Gozo) waste transfer station increased by 7.0 per cent or 1,167 tonnes. An increase of 153.3 per cent or 20,211 tonnes was also registered for the waste input at the Sant’ Antnin Waste Treatment Plant while the input that was recorded for the Malta North Mechanical-Biological Treatment Plant decreased by 2.3 per cent or 1,732 tonnes. Additionally, decreases of 2.9 per cent or 8,824 tonnes and 7.8 per cent or 467 tonnes were also noted for waste that was disposed at the Għallis landfill and at the Marsa Thermal Treatment Facility, respectively (Tables 3 to 5).
Separate collection of waste
In 2021, the separate collection of waste fractions experienced a decline in all modes except for civic amenity sites where amounts increased by 4.9 per cent or 1,818 tonnes. With regard to door-to-door collections, decreases of 12.5, 8.1 and 3.5 per cent were recorded in the organic waste, glass, and the grey/green bag waste collection respectively. Similarly, a drop of 5.5 per cent was recorded for bring-in sites (Table 7)
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1. Data which is presented in this News Release has been sourced from the administrative records of the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA), Transport Malta and WasteServ Malta Ltd.
2. Revisions have been made to 2020 data due to updated figures that were made available by data providers. In this release, 2021 data should be considered as provisional.
3. Waste generation figures shown in Table 1 are derived from records kept by the relevant entities about the waste inputs into waste management facilities. In this process, double counting for inter-facility transfers is eliminated, except for waste that is generated as a result of waste treatment processes (secondary waste).
4. Table 2 comprises a breakdown of waste that was treated in Malta and waste that was sent for treatment in other countries into six waste treatment categories. These are based upon the categories that are used for the reporting of the Waste Statistics Regulation to Eurostat. Waste that is held in temporary storage does not form part of these categories.
5. Waste items in Tables 1 and 3 to 6, are classified according to the Statistical European Waste Classification (EWC-Stat. Version 4) which can be accessed at: https://metadata.nso.gov.mt/classifications/European%20Waste%20Catalogue.pdf
This classification has been published in the Waste Statistics Regulation 2150/2002 (WStatR) and is asubstance-oriented nomenclature used to report waste generation and treatment data to Eurostat. Countries such as Malta, that collect data according to the European Waste Catalogue, can convert the data into EWC-Stat waste categories by means of the table of equivalence which is published in Annex 3 of the WStatR.
6. Discrepancies in the data that is published in this news release and the data that are available on the Eurostat website occur since data for all waste categories reported in this news release are in wet weight. For Eurostat reporting, sludges and dredging spoils are reported in dry weight. Differences may also result due to updates in the source data.
7. Totals for waste generation (Table 1) and treatment (Table 2) are not equal due to the storage of waste at certain waste treatment facilities. Moreover, Table 1 includes intentional double counting due to the inclusion of secondary waste generation from waste treatment activities.
8. Tables 1 and 2 comprise data from all waste management facilities and waste brokers that are permitted by ERA to operate in this sector. Comprehensive lists of these entities can be found on the ERA website as follows:
Waste management facilities: https://era.org.mt/topic/permitted-waste-management-facilities
Quarries permitted to accept inert waste: https://era.org.mt/topic/permitted-quarries
Waste brokers: https://era.org.mt/topic/list-of-authorised-waste-brokers
9. In Table 2, Recovery – Recycling taking place in Malta mainly comprises inert mineral waste. From 2017 onward small amounts of other materials were also recycled in Malta.
10. Waste generation and treatment data include estimates that are worked out by the NSO for the non-response of inert mineral waste treatment facilities and for mineral waste that is generated by softstone quarrying. The latter is estimated at 30 per cent of the total volume of quarried material.
● Inert mineral waste managed in quarry sites: Waste which mainly consists of stones, concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics from construction and demolition. It also includes clean geological material from excavation works.
● Dredging spoils: Mineral waste that originates from port maintenance activities and is made up of sediments excavated from the seabed.
● Bring-in sites: Collection depots for clean source-segregated recyclable materials. Four types of materials are collected: glass, metals, plastic and paper/cardboard.
● Civic amenity sites: Collection depots for the separate disposal of household bulky waste and recyclables. Up to 2021, there were six sites operated by WasteServ Malta Ltd.
● Door-to-door green/grey bag collection: Collection of mixed paper, metals and plastics from households on pre-determined weekdays that has been taking place since 2011. Waste which is collected in this manner is sorted by material type in waste treatment facilities.
● Door-to-door glass waste collection: Collection of glass waste from households usually held once or twice a month and that has been taking place since 2014.
● Door-to-door organic waste collection: Collection of organic waste from households on pre-determined weekdays. This collection started as a pilot project covering a limited number of localities in 2015 and was extended nation-wide as from the 31st October 2018.
● Recovery: Any operation the principal result of which is waste serving a useful purpose by replacing other materials which would otherwise have been used to fulfil a particular function, or waste being prepared to fulfil that function, in the plant or in the wider economy.
● Recycling: A subset of recovery and means any recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials, or substances whether for the original or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic material (e.g. composting, anaerobic digestion, etc.) but excludes the use as fuels and the use for backfilling operations.
● Backfilling: A recovery operation where waste is used in excavated areas (such as underground mines, gravel pits) for the purpose of slope reclamation or safety or for engineering purposes in landscaping and where the waste is substituting other non-waste materials which would have had to be used for the purpose.
● Energy recovery: A recovery operation that takes place whenever both the conditions and energy efficiency thresholds which are provided in the ‘Guidelines on the energy efficiency formula for incineration facilities’ related to the Waste Framework Directive are met.
● Disposal: Any operation which is not recovery even where the operation has as a secondary consequence the reclamation of substances or energy.
● Landfilling: The deposit of waste on landfills within the meaning of Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste. This includes landfills for inert waste, non-hazardous waste and hazardous waste above ground and landfills for the underground storage of waste.
● Incineration: A disposal operation where the main purpose of the incineration is the thermal treatment of waste in order to reduce the volume and the hazardousness of the waste, and to obtain an inert product that can be disposed of.
● Other disposal: Operations such as land treatment, deep injection, impoundment of waste and the release of waste into water bodies. These disposal methods can be used only for a limited range of waste types. In Malta, these operations are limited to disposal at sea at the official spoil ground located off the Grand Harbour area.
● Pre-treatment: Preparatory waste treatment operations that are necessary before final treatment (both for recovery and disposal) can take place. In Malta, these treatments comprise essentially waste sorting and mechanical-biological treatment.
12. More information relating to this news release may be accessed at:
Sources and methods
Classification: List of recovery and disposal operations (Annex I and Annex II of Directive 2008/98/EC)
13. Statistics in this news release should be interpreted in the context of the COVID-19 situation.
14. References to this news release are to be cited appropriately.
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