A Greener Blueprint: Campaign+ Initiative
Every year, KSU allocates funding to a scheme entitled CAMPAIGN+. Individuals and student organisations are invited to submit proposals for campaigns or events within the parameters of the chosen theme. The selected applicants are then equipped with the necessary tools and finances to implement the project. A Greener Blueprint was a campaign launched by MHSA as winners of the funding that focused on the reduction of single-use plastic bottles. A press conference was called on campus to raise awareness on the environmental impact of plastic. A reusable plastic bottle was then distributed to all those that participated in a survey on the most effective and practical ways of waste reduction, with a specific focus on plastic.
Over the past couple of months, MHSA, in collaboration with the Social Policy Commission of KSU, have been at work on an environmentally-friendly project coined as ‘A Greener Blueprint’.
The objectives of this campaign are to raise awareness about the issues revolving around waste in our country, with hopes of decreasing excessive landfill use and helping in building a more sustainable waste management system. Moreover, this campaign focused on making our environment cleaner and less polluted by helping in eliminating waste that was discarded in the open. This was done through the participation of both student organisations in National Clean-up Day on September 16th, which was a nationwide effort in cleaning up our surroundings. This campaign did in fact achieve the realistic results it had set out to reach. Nonetheless, the job is still not fully complete.
This aims of ‘A Greener Blueprint’ coincide with the principles of national policy in the waste management sector, which include reducing waste and preventing waste occurring, and managing waste according to the waste hierarchy.
Due to the low rates of recycling that we currently have, reducing plastic usage is an attempt at decreasing the waste that is discarded in both the urban and natural environment that we live in. Over the years improvements have been made; according to the National Statistics Office, over the period of 2011 to 2015, the amount of plastic wastes that were landfilled decreased from 131 tonnes to 22 tonnes respectively. However, along the same time span, plastic waste that was treated at the Sant’ Antnin Waste Treatment Plant as exports for recycling dropped from roughly 2,000 tonnes to about 1,600 tonnes.
The adverse effects of plastic on our surroundings starts with its manufacturing; it is often made out of non-renewable resources, its incineration causes the release of carcinogens, and is a major pollutant in our waters, putting marine life at risk of mortality. This is of an even bigger issue when dealing with synthetic plastic, rather than biodegradable plastic. Research also shows that microscopic plastic particles are found to be ubiquitous in our environment, including terrestrial, airborne and marine habitats.
Whilst our aim is to convey the message of reusing and recycling to the general public, we feel that our message would be more effective if we initiate change on campus first; we set a precedent. For example, while there are recycling bins available on campus, no proper recycling plan has been adopted as of yet. The contribution that we can make as students of University of Malta starts from the bottles that we use for our drinking water, which as can be seen here, accumulates to a copious amount of waste over time.
The collection of plastic waste, although proper access points are available for their proper disposal, is still not as effective as it needs to be. This is reflected by the countless clean-ups that are organised throughout the whole year in an effort to decrease plastic waste and minimise the adverse effects of plastic waste in our environment.
The solution to this dilemma may lie in the Waste Framework Directive, were the concept of the Waste Hierarchy was coined. This tool ranks waste management options according to what is best for the environment, and the best option for a sustainable waste management system is considered to be waste prevention, which entails for specific policies to be put into motion to make waste prevention feasible. Such an initiative also helps in breaking the link between economic growth and waste generation, which is one of the aims of the Maltese Government in this area.
To conclude, the message of this campaign evolves from simply reducing the amount of plastic waste in our environment; the goal of this public awareness campaign is to contribute to the national effort being currently undertaken in promoting waste management up in the local hierarchy.
Why does the council feel that this is an important initiative?
Statistics show that as a nation, we recycle less than 20% of waste we generate. The council strongly believes that waste management is an issue that needs to be tackled sooner rather than later. But it cannot be undermined that this isn’t an issue that can be solved overnight. We need to act slowly but surely, to ensure that our actions are effective. Undeniably, taking small steps can prove to be more effective. As highlighted by this collection box, extensive single use plastic waste is generated in a flash. Plastic packaging serves its purpose for a very short period of time but, takes over 400 years to degenerate. Clearly, minimising the use of plastic bottles can leave a huge impact and and slowly slowly we can start diminishing our footprint. It takes a couple of seconds to break routine habits and recycle.
KSU Social Policy Commission