Project: Zibel

Engaging communities to tackle waste

Zibel’s end goal is to see Malta flourish. But one thing stands in their way: waste. To tackle this problem, Zibel run beach clean-ups and remove ocean waste, as well as delivering educational programmes and youth volunteering opportunities.

Led by a team of volunteers, Zibel is a homegrown Maltese environmental NGO. They deliver a range of projects that contribute to their wider aims of making a positive impact on the environment, lifestyles, and civic pride in Malta. With a focus on waste, Zibel educate and raise awareness of the issue, and devise innovative ways to protect marine life. They also engage with a network of volunteers and other passionate individuals through their active social media platforms.

Ocean litter and waste is a huge issue for the Maltese islands. Their small size yet growing population and tourism industry means that Malta is unable to manage its waste effectively. Malta’s recycling rate of packaging waste is staggeringly low at around 11%, whilst the EU average is over 40%. Worryingly, the recycling rate has decreased over the past decade. Studies have found that 91% of marine litter items in Malta are plastic. This is damaging to vital keystone ocean species such as seagrass, fish stocks and loggerhead turtles. To tackle this, Zibel have collected over 136,000 KG of waste from the Maltese environment, whilst mobilising over 6,000 volunteers and 900+ divers.

Entanglement in fishing nets has become one the greatest threats facing marine life. Fish, dolphins, turtles, and even sharks commonly become victims of ghost fishing. Through Project Xibka, Zibel collect and recycle/reuse ‘Abandoned, Lost, and Otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear’ (ALDFG) around the coast of the Maltese Islands. As part of this work, Zibel increase awareness of the impact of ALDFGs to fishermen and divers, such as ghost fishing and habitat damage, support the reuse of DFGs through mending and reuse, and support stakeholder collaboration to come up with solutions to this issue. To date, almost 90 nets have been collected within 3 years.

In order to increase both impact and influence, Zibel have started building a committed volunteer base of people who are passionate about tackling waste in Malta. However, with no paid staff members, Zibel’s ability to capitalise on opportunities to expand their work is limited. With support from the Foundation, Zibel will hire the first paid staff post, a ‘Community Co-ordinator’, who aims to manage volunteers more effectively, engage more people in Zibel’s work, and create a volunteer or membership offer that is unique and exciting.

Volunteers will become part of the Zibel ‘Tribe’, a community hub for supporting anyone and everyone who wants to conduct marine clean-ups in Malta. This is with the aim of creating change on a broader scale in Malta and to ensure cohesive working between passionate groups and individuals. This funding will also provide a career opportunity in the environmental NGO sector in Malta and showcase that having paid staff is possible at the grassroots.