Clean streets a pipe dream? Rubbish.

Pilot project for cleaner streets through designated rubbish bag collection sites to be launched in Rabat shortly.

Very few of us, if any, disagree that plastic rubbish bags on pavements are a nuisance and an inconvenience. No matter how diligently they are placed, or how timely and responsible people have the potential to be, it only takes a gust of wind or a wondering cat or rodent for this practice to turn into a mess. Several times, they block the way for puschairs and wheelchairs.

Seeking to alleviate the ongoing concerns about this situation, a pilot project is set to commence in Rabat shortly – the relevant authorities are aiming for a March start date.

Local Councils Association President, Mario Fava, revealed this to The Journal, explaining that it all began during a waste management consultation during which the Association proposed the establishment of rubbish bag collection points. These would be designated sites where rubbish bags can be gathered. The objective is to encourage people to habitually dispose of their waste in these locations, eliminating bags strewn across streets and pavements.

Pilot project in Għar Barka, Rabat

To facilitate this, a pilot project has been planned for a handful of streets in Rabat, in an area known as Ghar Barka. These specific streets will have a site for depositing rubbish bags, approximately 150/200 metres away from them.

To maintain aesthetics, the site will be carefully enclosed. Access to the site will require a card or mobile app. Once inside, individuals will deposit bags into color-coded containers. The frequency of access depends on the type of bag. For example, black bags can be deposited up to twice a week, which reflects how frequently it is collected under the normal waste collection system. The containers will also relay information to the local council, aiding in targeted educational campaigns based on observed habits.

Despite this new system, residents will still be able to place bags on pavements, but over time the Local Councils Association hopes that this practice will be discouraged. The new initiative is aimed at providing a solution for those with unconventional schedules, ensuring a designated place for bag disposal. Examples are people who work night shifts, or people who own short-let apartments and have specific cleaning schedules when bins need to be taken out.

Keeping our environment litter-free

The strategy prioritises densely populated areas like housing estates, since it aims to avoid littering pavements, encouraging people to keep their immediate evironment clean. However, Mario Fava makes it clear that each locality requires a tailored study before such sites are installed.

Physically, these site resemble an organised, well-fenced area. The tender for Rabat (Malta) was recently awarded, and the project, managed by the local council, will be executed by the winning contractor.

Bins, equipped with monitoring systems, would provide data to the council, and the contractor will handle bin emptying. Further consultations on this project will involve local councils, bin collectors and residents, with an emphasis on education.

Each site is budgeted at approximately €30,000-€40,000 euros, and while currently at street level in Rabat, future implementations might explore underground options.

There isn’t a universal fix or an easy solution to any problem, but the collaborative efforts of different stakeholders on such a project are certainly a positive step forward.

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