The small village of Ghaxaq has certainly held its own when putting good waste practices into place as is evident by the neat door steps and lack of rubbish in the village core. This is a collective effort by the residents driven by the tireless team working at the Ghaxaq local council. The mayor of Ghaxaq is clearly passionate about his work and the responsibilities that come with the position. He is an environmentalist at heart with a hands on attitude and an enormous drive to introduce and sustain good waste practices in Ghaxaq and beyond. One of the first things he actioned when elected was to remove all the skips left lingering around the village which made the place look like a dumping site. Permits for skips are only given to those who apply for a permit and who accept to place the skip only outside their own homes.
The organic pilot project was received extremely well in Ghaxaq since it was in the first group of localities to implement it. This evoked a sense of solidarity, civic pride and enthusiasm in the people, fostering a collective desire to give a great response. Wasteserv spokespersons carrying out their informative home visits were inundated with queries. Large amounts of organic waste were collected right from the on start with the majority of households participating. According to statistics provided by Wasteserv, 172,000 kilogrammes of organic waste has been collected from Ghaxaq to date, which is equivalent to the weight of 14 standard sized buses.
“With the organic project we saw an opportunity to put pressure on the community of Ghaxaq to work together and it has certainly paid off when you look at the figures of waste collection” added the mayor.
The second initiative which firmly put Ghaxaq on the map was an idea presented during the local council’s participation in European Week for Waste Reduction in 2015. A simple but very clever and relevant initiative to recycle and reuse Maltese stone used in construction and collected by the local council. In fact the local council itself used these stones to build boundary walls around fields, immediately tidying up the entire area. The local council also invited the public to help themselves to stones if and when needed. Acting as the middle agent, the council contacted contractors to inform them of this service and then invited anyone who needed the stone to come and pick up what they needed all for free. To date this continues to be a successful initiative.
The local council also acts as a watchdog for the community, placing signs and posters highlighting bad waste practices – indeed it is not the first time that a photo of a badly disposed of bag is taken and used in the posters. The council has increased the number of bins and doggy bins to ensure that there really is no excuse to litter and has also invested funds on security cameras in the village core which has resulted in a steady decline in illegal dumpling. The local council members are fully focused on following up on wrongly dumped waste and believe that theirs is a long term investment in creating a cleaner environment. The mayor also believes that an incentive system will go a long way to encourage more participation but that such a system should be beneficial to the community rather than on an individual level.
Villages like Ghaxaq are setting an exemplary model for good waste management practices within its community by showing how the combined efforts of the community and the steadfast involvement of the local council can benefit everyone and result in a positive attitude towards waste. This will hopefully mobilize others to redouble their own efforts and serves as a positive example, both to localities already participating in the organic pilot project, as well as those which are yet to come on board as it spreads to further localities. We already have a waste infrastructure which allows us to sustainably manage our waste. By availing ourselves of the waste services provided by Government and Local Councils we can create a more sustainable Malta. So get involved and do your bit – we are sure you can! Visit www.dontwastewaste.gov.mt to see what waste management services are available near you.