YRE Competition 2021
Litter Less Campaign Article
15-18 years old
Who is the future of our country?
Are we teaching them to be sustainable?
Junior College, a post-secondary under the University of Malta guidance this year decided to cover the school's common area chairs and benches with plastic to prevent students from sitting on them to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Paper wristbands were also introduced to monitor students entering the campus.
When I saw this, an email was sent to the Junior College administration to meet a representative, they accepted and we met on the 9th of December 2020. The discussion started with the wristbands which was stated that these are a directive by the UOM, and they had no control over them, but they where in control of the plastic. This was a short-term solution for the 2020-2021 year. No alternatives for plastic were considered as the representative said that there was not enough time.
Communication with the UOM’s rector office started by a telephone call which the representative from the office explained that the wristbands were not possible to be removed as these were purchased in bulk and needed to be used. The representative also promised that when they finish alternatives will be considered. The office also said that they will be trying to work with the JC administration to reduce single-use plastic.
When the students entered after the Christmas holidays the plastic ended up getting damaged and the administration decided to re-lay the plastic instead of seeking alternatives.
Another communication to the JC administration was sent with questions about the current waste pilot project, safety regulations which the school has to follow, what type of plastic is being used, if the environmental committee was consulted, if they know how much plastic is being used and if with this action is he helping the government in changing the mentality.
The representative refused to answer my questions, instead they answered by saying that we already met to discuss this issue and that the college over the years took lots of measures in favor of the environment and that the school was obliged to take these measures.
Another communication with the UOM rector’s office was done but the representative explained that the rector will not be giving me a statement as the JC representative already gave me one.
On the 28th of October 2020, the government released a legislation regarding restrictions on placing on the market single-use plastic products. The legislation, which was initiated by the ministry for the environment, climate change, and planning along with the environment and resources authority. The legislation aims to create a cultural shift away from single-use plastic by showing the public the potential benefits it has when we move away from the product.
Dr. Aaron Farrugia the minister for environment, climate change and planning sent me a statement saying that in his opinion plastic is not inherently bad as it is lightweight which reduces transportation energy and is durable which hence reduces material usage. Public health is important for the government and plastic played a crucial role in the fight against Covid-19. “unfortunate thing is when the use of plastic becomes indiscriminate in the context of an irresponsible attitude towards consumption and subsequent disposal” that’s why the government is working on projects to maximize recycling and materials which cannot be recycled be used in a different matter. Single-use-plastic ban on certain products is being prepared after a public consultation last year. Efforts towards raising awareness about plastic pollution and its impact is happening all over the country and he is impressed by the efforts of volunteers and citizens in them. His final message was “I am positive that together we can work towards a cleaner environment and climate-resistant future.”
Oxo-degradable plastic is plastic that is made of petroleum-based polymers that contain additives that accelerate their degradation when exposed to heat or light. When this plastic degrades it creates microplastics that are dangerous to the environment and if they end up in the sea, they will be eaten by the fish we eat. This type of plastic as of January 2021 is prohibiting their placing on the market. Is the plastic being used in Junior College oxo-degradable?
This year the Junior College Student Council started a new venture when it comes to litter as they partnered with Nature Trust in their litter less program to reduce waste in our school. Why is the school working against the council by generating unnecessary waste?
The environmental and resources agency states that businesses and private entities are working to help in creating the necessary shift. Is the school helping with this cultural shift by placing plastic everywhere?
The Maltese government is focusing on reducing single-use plastic and the school is placing plastic everywhere. Is this a contradicting message?
There were many alternatives to plastic. Some of the alternatives were: removing extra chairs and storing them for the future, using material which later can be re-used for example wooden strips, a stamp on the hand instead of wristbands, to mention a few. Why weren’t these considered?
In order for a cultural shift to occur we all need to join hands including; the private sector, education institutions and the government, for the reduction of single use plastic. If we do nothing about this issue, we would have failed the future generations with our actions.
Benches at JC covered with plastic
By Isaac Sam Camilleri
Article 15-18 years
Title: Is sustainability a joke?
Title: Chews a Better Future
Country: New Zealand