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KSU Reacts: Waste on Campus
KSU calls on the urgency of finding a long-term solution related to improving the recycling system and the cigarette disposal areas at the University of Malta, especially after the clean-up which was held on the University grounds about two weeks ago.
During the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR), KSU organised a University Clean-Up in collaboration with the NGO Zibel. Out of the locations that were originally scouted, the areas that were cleaned up on the day were the University Quadrangle and the green area next to Car Park 4 due to the amount of unprecedented waste that was cleared up. A total of 13.61kg was collected whereby such waste consisted of the following:
- 3.74kg Recycling;
- 3.92kg General (including a record-breaking amount of cigarette filters); and,
- 5.95kg Bulky Items.
KSU would like to express its concern with regards to the substantial amount of cigarette filters found within the University Campus and would like emphasise the fact that there needs to be an adequate disposal mechanism for such cigarette filters. Furthermore, it would like to urge students and members of academic staff alike to simply stop disposing of their cigarette filters on campus.
In light of the above, it is important to highlight how bad cigarette filters are for the environment. The core of most cigarette filters is cellulose acetate, which is very slow to degrade and in turn, leaves a negative effect on the environment. It can take 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to decompose, depending on the area where it is disposed of. Furthermore, the toxins that come out from cigarette filters can damage living organisms that come into contact with them. This reflects the extent of damage that such filters can cause.
Moreover, KSU finds it unacceptable that feaces was also found behind the bushes on the University Quadrangle. It is extremely disrespectful towards the University students and passers-by and even more so, towards those who have to clean up after them.
KSU found a temporary solution with regards to the recycling system at the University of Malta to start encouraging an attitude of recycling within the students, and simultaneously lessening a large chunk of the waste on campus. The KSU Social Policy Office stuck labels made out of plywood on each and every bin within the quadrangle and library area with the aim of making it more visible for students, academics and passers-by to identify which bins are specifically aimed towards mixed recycling and which are solely for general waste. We would like to point out that this is solely a temporary solution for a bigger project that the Social Policy Office is doing its utmost to work on when it comes to the recycling system at the University.
KSU will continue working with the NGO Zibel throughout the year to organise yet another clean-up on campus as well as more clean-ups around Malta and Gozo to support them in all their efforts in order to work towards a cleaner environment. Moreover, KSU would like to propose yet another alternative to help lessen the amount of waste being disposed of negligently on campus. KSU would find it ideal if a number of permanent installations made out of reusable materials, such as cans or even glass bottles, would be placed around the University campus specifically for the collection of cigarette filters. Even more importantly, it must be ensured that such cigarette filters are collected regularly in order for such a system to be effective.