From linear to circular: protecting the environment, fostering growth

Malta has officially launched its strategy to address the global problem of Single Use Plastics (SUPs) through a strategic, tailor-made, rethink framework which is already addressing the SUP situation in Malta.

The Single-Use Plastic Products Strategy for Malta 2021-2030 – Rethink Plastic has just been launched by Minister Aaron Farrugia on Tuesday 7th December 2021 with the intention of giving a legal framework to the existing battle against SUPs. This ambitious plan – which goes well beyond European obligations – will address the three main challenges when dealing with SUP:

  1. being that they go against the circular economy model;
  2. they have low rates of recycling and recovery;
  3. that they tend to be disposed of inappropriately thus contributing to issues such as marine litter.

Developing this tailor-made strategy was no easy feat for the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA). With the Single-Use Plastic Directive as the backbone, ERA officials worked tirelessly to further improve on it and adapt the strategy to the Maltese scenario. To obtain this, thorough research, meetings with stakeholders, a public consultation including several public meetings lead to constructive discussions which created a bespoke strategy that will assure the greatest improvements in the SUP domain.

This strategy is only part of a yearlong battle against SUPs with ERA already prohibiting the local production and importation of certain SUPs from January 2021. This strategy now gives the Government a clear direction for the future with proposed goals and targets aimed at improving the local situation and further contributing to this global challenge.

 How will these measures be implemented?

An implementation plan is being devised through scientific assessments of each and every measure – a process that includes discussions with different competent authorities and/or stakeholders. 

However, the war against SUPs is not only the Government’s battle – co-operation amongst all the actors is pivotal in order to ensure successful implementation of this Strategy – we must all do our part.

Who else is in this battle?

1. Restaurants and kiosks (including take-away services)

This includes plastic straws, plastic plates, cutlery, etc. based on the SUPD:

    • more sustainable alternatives are available, and further considering that this ban applies at Union level, economic operators have already adapted their operations to such market restrictions. Hence, no major impacts of such economic operators are envisaged.

Pizza lid support, plastic toothpicks, plastic kebab sticks and lollipops sticks (sold separately):

    • No major impact on the operation of such economic operators is expected since more sustainable alternatives are widely available on the market.

Single-use plastic beverage cups are items extensively used by these establishments, which consumption should be reduced gradually.

2. Operators organising open-air events (e.g. weddings and similar events)

Might be slightly impacted as the release of plastic confetti and balloons in open air events shall be restricted.

    •  more sustainable alternatives are widely available on the market

3. Supermarkets / retailers

These establishments have the opportunity to adhere to voluntary schemes aiming at reducing plastic packaging. The aim of the Strategy in this regard, is to create a framework to move to a more circular economy and to facilitate the behavioural change in relation to SUPs.

In addition, the strategy prohibits the placing on the market of certain lightweight plastic carrier bags as from 2021 – reusable heavy-duty bag alternatives are widely available and their use is being encouraged.

4. Importers / Producers

A number of SUP products (e.g. plastic straws, plastic plates, cutlery, etc.) and products made of oxodegradable plastic are subject to market restriction – sustainable alternatives are widely available on the market.

Single-Use Plastic Products Strategy for Malta 2021-2030 – Rethink Plastic is an opportunity for Malta to excel once again and lead by example on an international level. Developing this strategy involved hard work and sacrifice – now it is time for us all to reciprocate – work together to continue this battle to win this war.

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