Construction industry in uproar over ‘alarming’ lack of waste dumping sites

Malta Developers Association president Sandro Chetcuti told Business Today that the construction industry is up in arms over the lack of available quarries for the disposal of dumping waste


The construction industry is up in arms over the lack of available quarries for the disposal of dumping waste, a situation that has been described as “alarming” by Malta Developers Association president Sandro Chetcuti.

Business Today is informed that the price of dumping construction waste has risen to €15 per tonne for separated waste and €17 per tonne for mixed waste. Asked whether the rise in cost was justified, however, the MDA president said the issue was secondary to the dire situation created by the scarcity of quarries which are accepting construction waste.

Reacting to the increase, the Environment Ministry said it was necessary for the industry to manage construction waste within the context of the free market. In the absence of a solution, it said it would step in and take action itself.

MDA’s Sandro Chetcuti says existing monopoly is leading to rise in prices
MDA’s Sandro Chetcuti says existing monopoly is leading to rise in prices

In February, Chetcuti had said that the industry was worried that, despite there being 32 quarries licensed to receive construction waste, only a handful were actually doing so. Subsequently, the MDA and the Environment Ministry had reached an agreement for a fixed dumping fee of €8 for every tonne of waste dumped in quarries. The fixed rate was expected to be enforced for the next year and a half.

Seven months down the line, however, the problem has come to the fore again, with Chetcuti telling this newspaper that the issue had in fact persisted for the past two years, with the government having failed to find a solution.

This, he said, was creating a monopoly which was leading to the rise in prices.

“There are only two or three quarries for disposing of waste right now, and these have a monopoly. They have every right to demand any price they want,” he said. “The issue is much bigger than just the price.”

“There have to be several alternatives for dumping construction material, not just a couple of quarries. The situation has now become alarming,” he said.

Chetcuti warned that the construction sector seriously risked suffering a setback if the current situation persisted, and went on to call for the government to take the necessary decisions.

“I hope that the Environment Minister starts working on this immediately and takes a decision,” he said, “It is true that this problem has been long coming and is not of the minister’s own doing, but it still needs to be solved.”

Chetcuti highlighted that, should there be more available quarries, the price of dumping would then adjust itself automatically through the normal market processes.

He added that the MDA would continue putting pressure on the government to find a solution, even if this had to be a temporary one for the time being.

Ministry will step in

Questions sent to Environment Minister Jose Herrera remained unanswered, however the ministry said in a statement that it was aware that a quarry which had been used to dispose construction waste had seized operations.

This, it said, had impacted the whole industry and was confirmed by the Environment and Resources Authority during inspections at a number of quarries.

It said that in recent months the ministry had held a number of meetings to resolve the problem, which had seen 10 new permits issued for quarries to receive construction waste, as well as fiscal incentives by the government for operators to allow the dumping of construction waste at a fixed price.

“If the ministry sees that the matter has not been resolved by operators in an appropriate timeframe, it will need to resort to powers it has at law in order to unblock the situation,” read the statement.

“It is necessary for the construction sector to understand that it must manage this material within the context of the free market. This will ensure that it acts as an incentive for this material to start being viewed as a resource rather than waste.”

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