Measures to help property prices remain affordable and a better safeguard of the environment

Measures to help property prices remain affordable and a better safeguard of the environment

Reference Number: PR200302, Press Release Issue Date: Feb 24, 2020

Giving new value to construction waste and incentivising recycling and the use of reconstituted stone—Government to support the commercialisation of reconstituted stone, the new alternative for limestone, bricks and concrete

Measures to help property prices remain affordable and a better safeguard of the environment 

“Our economy needs to be transformed from one based on a linear model to a circular one, a switch which needs to be taken throughout all strata of our economy.”

This was said by Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses Silvio Schembri while addressing the ‘Closing the Circle’ Malta Industrial Parks Business Breakfast with the support of the Ministry for the Economy, Investment and Small Businesses. The aim of the business breakfast was to generate awareness amongst stakeholders and developers on the reuse of construction waste by shedding light on the commercialisation of reconstituted stone, which has been for the past 10 years researched by Professor Buhagiar.

Minister Schembri emphasised that it is no secret that Malta has a monumental problem with the disposal of construction waste, topped with the recent doubling of dumping charges, which has placed a bigger burden on developers both small and big. “The increase in property prices due to excessive increase in dumping charges could be well neutralising the assistance given to our young families through the first and second time buyer reduced tax schemes. Besides one must remark that the natural limestone extracted from our quarries is a finite resource and is reaching its end”, remarked Minister Schembri.

Whilst appealing to the stakeholders and developers to challenge the status quo, Minister Schembri said that in view of the challenging scenario an immediate solution is needed, hence once commercialised, reconstituted stone can become a valuable viable alternative. Reconstituted stone –  a project researched by the University of Malta and supported by Malta Industrial Parks – takes full advantage of construction and demolition as a secondary raw material in order to create a new ‘stone’ which can be utilised in the construction of buildings as an alternative to limestone, bricks and concrete. 

Minister Schembri unveiled three measures that will be pushed for the use of reconstituted stone through conjoint efforts between entities such as Malta Enterprise and Malta Industrial Parks. The three measures are:

  • Provide the necessary resource to have the concept of reconstituted stone develop further, refined and make it ready for commercialisation as soon as possible;
  • Help the industry commercialise the concept of the product through investment assistance schemes for those interested to take recycling of construction waste as an investment opportunity and establish new methods to increase construction development efficiency through the production of reconstituted stone;
  • Incentivise those developers who recycle their construction waste and use reconstituted stone in their projects.

Minister Schembri explained that the commercialisation of reconstituted stone will:

  1. mean the creation of a new, more efficient and more sustainable building resource;
  2. give new value to construction waste for the owner/developer and those who have it in landfills;
  3. lessen property development costs and bring along more competitive prices for buyers, especially first-time buyers;
  4. a drastic reduction in the need to dump construction waste in landfills, hence we can make better use of current landfills and avoid taking up more virgin land for new or extended landfills;

“All in all, at the inception of this revolution, Malta can serve as a prototype, a referral point for the adoption of circular economy concepts within a European context.  Circular economy is no longer an abstract idea but one which needs to be implemented soon”, reiterated Minister Schembri

The Malta Industrial Parks Business Breakfast was addressed by Minister for the Environment Climate Change and Planning Aaron Farrugia said that while it is important to maintain the country’s positive economic performance, development needs to be sustainable, and needs to give due regard to social wellbeing and environmental protection. 

“The need to transition towards a circular economy is party motivated by the concern that natural resources, such as land and stone, are finite, and need to remain in the economic cycle for the longest time possible. Such a transition should not be seen as a barrier to growth – on the contrary, it should be seen as a catalyst for innovation, new business niches and more green jobs”, said Minister Aaron Farrugia. 

He also stressed the importance of such a transition within one of Malta’s most important economic sectors: construction, and that to this end, the draft strategy on Construction and Demolition waste, for which a public consultation was launched, was closed a couple of weeks ago.