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Malta hosted the first Virtuous Circle event. In addition to the participation of ministers for Environment and Agriculture, and for European Affairs and Equality, representatives from the offices of the Minister of Finance and Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses actively participated.


The EU Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, emphasised the need to treat waste as a resource, stating that the profits and jobs from good waste management are not just for waste management companies, but for the wider ecosystem of SMEs that can build on the value of secondary materials and associated services. Malta should take swift action to improve its performance. The decisions on new infrastructure to treat waste should be based on the long-term perspective and consider the recycling targets Malta will have to meet beyond 2030 (up to 65%). Waste reduction opportunities are prevalent in our tourist sector, with possibilities to reduce single use items, from soaps to marmalade.

Minister José Herrera (Environment and Agriculture) underlined that good waste management has specific challenges for a small island, but taking a circular economy approach makes it more manageable; for example focusing on waste reduction, extended producer responsibility and separate collection.

International experts presented their experiences on three themes as follows:

1. Circular economy – making materials matter

  • Håkon Jentoft, EUROCITIES Coordinator Urban Agenda Partnership on CE “Regional approaches to generating circular economy jobs”
  • Joachim Quoden, EXPRA General Secretary “How extended producer responsibility will need to be implemented”.
  • David Rogers, WRAP Head of International Resource Management “Resource management approaches and strategies for food and biowaste”.

2. Getting the economics right for effective waste management

  • Mike Brown, Eunomia Managing Director “Lessons from the Early Warning Report”.
  • Vanya Veras, Municipal Waste Europe General Secretary “Challenges of small islands in waste management”.
  • Susana Frietas, Director, LIPOR, Lipor, Portugal, Separate collection.

3. Mobilising the right resources

  • Christian Schempp, EIB Senior Economist “Getting the right financial mix” & Jean Tilly, EIB/JASPERS Energy and Waste Division
  • Francesc Giro, Catalonian Waste Agency Director “Getting the economics right for private sector investment”

Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Helena Dalli, thanked the experts, both Maltese and international, for making the opportunities for circular economy in Malta so clear and expressed enthusiasm for following up on these opportunities, including through smart targeting of European funding.

Break-out Workshops were held on:

  1. There’s Money in Muck - What to do with Biowaste
  2. Extended producer responsibility and deposit schemes
  3. Separate collection and recycling
  4. Economic instruments – Economic incentives & citizens' involvement

Several conclusions were drawn in the final plenary about what makes strategies for moving towards more circular systems successful, including:

  • bringing together the main actors at all parts of the circles, from producers to recyclers, and from local authorities to service providers
  • setting clear objectives providing clarity and predictability for investors
  • incentivising moves towards more circular methods using economic instruments
  • identifying the material flows which could be used to create value
  • identifying services and business models that could be used to reduce waste by changing the way we consume

Meeting of Public Authorities

A meeting amongst public authorities was also held to discuss the outcomes of the Commission’s “early warning” report on implementation of waste legislation ( ) where Commission officials and the contractor, Eunomia, presented the main findings to representatives of the Maltese Ministry of Environment, the Director of the Maltese Resource, Recovery and Recycling Agency, Ministry of EU Affairs, Directorate General for EU Funds, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economy. Suggestions were made for developing legislation and responsibilities to help achieve the legal requirements, with the need for training for local authorities being noted. Discussions centred on how to achieve critical mass in waste treatment, how to implement and incentivise Extended Producer Responsibility with full cost recovery and how to promote investment without locking capital into stranded assets.


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