Sunday 04 December 2022

Calls upon ERA to stop fridges piling up

Broken fridges are once more piling up at Wasteserv facilities after ERA delays taking action against illegal operations.
It is quite easy to dispose of a fridge from a household in the right way. All one needs to do is call the Local Council which then sends a waste collector to pick up the appliance from outside the residence. The waste carrier then delivers this item to Wasteserv who in turn passes it on for recycling to an authorized scheme responsible for WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment). The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) oversees this procedure to make sure that it is in line with local and EU legislation.
Recycling refrigeration equipment, including air conditioners, is expensive and the role of the WEEE Schemes is to finance the collection and recycling of discarded appliances as well as to pay Wasteserv for the temporary storage of WEEE received from households.
“More than half of the fridges we collect from Wasteserv are missing many valuable parts,” says Mr Joe Attard, CEO of WEEE Malta, one of the two authorized schemes. “Without these parts, our scheme is having to pay extra money to get them recycled abroad”. There is also the environmental problem that is of public concern. Ing. Mario Schembri, CEO of GreenPak, the other authorized scheme responsible for WEEE, says “Apart from the added costs involved in recycling scavenged WEEE, there is a graver problem for the environment. When parts like motors are ripped away from refrigeration equipment, harmful gases escape into the atmosphere with severe consequences to pollution and the climate”.

“WEEE Malta has flagged up this problem with the authorities for many years, but no one seems to be listening,” adds Joe Attard. “Together with GreenPak, we have informed Wasteserv that scavenged fridges will no longer be removed from their facilities unless the Schemes are compensated for the additional costs this illegality is causing”.
“It is ERA’s responsibility to take action against those who, to make a quick buck, are pilfering WEEE at the expense of the environment,” says Ing. Schembri. “We understand that the illegal dismantling of the fridges is happening somewhere along the way from it leaving the residence until it is picked up by the WEEE Scheme. There are a number of checks that the authorities should be doing but are missing here. The result is that schemes are burdened with additional costs arising from the lack of correct procedures”.

“In the interest of good governance and environmental protection, the authorities need to act fast”, the CEOs of both schemes say. If this does not happen, there is a risk that fridges will start piling up at the Wasteserv facilities, a situation similar to the one seen a few years ago.

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