Have you looked at an item which you are about to dispose of and asked yourself if it should go into the recycling bin or not? To answer some of our questions we have reached out to WasteServ, the company responsible for waste management in Malta, to see what should be put into the recycling bin and what should not.
Is there a minimum size for an item to be placed in the recycle bin?
Items placed in the recyling bag should not be smaller than a credit card. The recyclables bag should only contain plastic, paper & metal items, mostly packaging waste. Small carton boxes are to be flattened out. Medium and large carton boxes are to be disposed of at a Civic Amenity Site, in a Bring in Site or at the Roadshow Truck.
If an item, such as a plastic bag for frozen vegetables, does not have the recycling symbol on it, can we assume it goes into the recycling bin?
Yes, these can be disposed of in the recyling bin.
Does shrink wrap plastic go into the recycling bin?
No, this material is not recyclable.
Are materials such as jablo, Styrofoam and egg cartons recyclable?
Jablo or polystyrene packing waste (such as that used as packaging with new appliances) can be disposed of at a Civic Amenity Site or at the Roadshow Truck.
Styrofoam is not recyclable, thus should go in the black bag. One should try and not use or limit using such single use products.
Egg cartons, unless contaminated, can be placed in the recycling bin.
Do items need to be thoroughly washed before going into the recycling bin, or is a quick rinse enough?
A quick rinse is enough, this is done so as not to contaminate the other materials and also to eliminate bad odours.
Do labels from glass jars and cans need to be removed before putting them in the recycling bin?
There is no need to remove labels since these go through a high temperature process when recycled at facilities abroad. (https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/how-is-it-recycled/cans).
Can aluminum foil go into the recycle bin – clean or soiled?
Only clean aluminum foil and trays can be disposed of in the recycle bin.
Can all paper be sent for recycling?
Any type of paper can be recycled, as long as it is not contaminated with other products (such as paint, glue, glitters etc.). It is also important not to tear paper in small pieces.
Can envelopes be recycled? And do we need to remove the plastic window separately?
Yes, they can and ideally the plastic window is removed and thrown in the mixed waste bin rather than in the recycling bin.
Why is recycling all put into one bin rather than separated at source?
We do not want to discourage people from separating the waste. It is for this reason that we accept mixed recyclables which are then separated at our facilities. One can still separate at source by making use of Bring in Sites, CA Sites or the Roadshow Trucks.
Are all these different types of plastics suitable for recycling?
Most of the plastics can be recycled but we should always try and consider using alternatives to reduce the use of plastic especially single use items.
PET  which is plastic that is used for beverage bottles; it can be clear or coloured and can be recycled in the grey/green bag.
HDPE  which is mainly hard plastic commonly found in detergent containers and can be recycled in the grey/green bag.
LDPE  is often found in shrink wraps, squeezable bottles, and plastic bags and can be recycled in the grey/green bag or at a Civic Amenity Site in the case of shrink wraps.
PP  consists of plastic containers and crates, can be recycled by taking it to a Civic Amenity Site.
PS  can be recycled by taking it to a Civic Amenity Site or to the Roadshow Trucks if it is packaging waste (as per above)
What happens if an item which is not recyclable ends up in the recycle bin?
All materials are manually separated by our workers. Thus, any non-recyclable item will also be separated by our workers to ensure that the final materials that are sent for recycling are of the highest quality.
What happens to the items sorted at the recycling plant?
After the different materials are manually sorted at Wasteserv facilities, these are then baled, and put on the market to be transformed into new secondary materials. These are sold on local, European and even international marketplaces for further treatment.
Are there any other tips on how we can make recycling more successful?
To achieve better results, it is important that the general public adheres to our guidelines and put only the correct items in the recycling bag. Unfortunately, we still find a lot of items in the recycling bags that shouldn’t be there, even hazardous items such as flares. When this happens, apart from contaminating the rest of the bag, it also poses a hazard to the health and safety of our employees since these are manually sorted. More information on what to put in the different bins can be found here: https://www.wsm.com.mt/en/domestic-waste.
Do you have any more questions which you can think of? Send them over on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try get the answers for you! Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter!