Malta ranks 25th in the 2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard with a composite index of 64 relative to the EU-average index of 100. The country slightly exceeds the EU-28 average in terms of resource efficiency outcomes (with an index of 104), but lags behind in eco-innovation inputs, activities and outputs and socio-economic outcomes.

The development of eco-innovation is hindered by a mix of natural constraints and structural challenges, including the country’s small size and insularity, limited potential to develop renewable energy sources, a weak human resources base in science and technologies, limited capacity and readiness for research and innovation on behalf of local firms, and relatively low levels of investment in R&D.

Nevertheless, several recent policy initiatives – most notably, a new National Research and Innovation Strategy to 2020 – reflect the Government’s commitment to improve Malta’s innovation environment and R&D potential. Policy initiatives specifically related to eco-innovation and the circular economy include a Green Economy Strategy and Action Plan, a National Electromobility Action Plan, and a new Waste Management Plan. Areas that have benefitted from eco-innovation solutions in the past two years include water management (in particular, efforts to address water scarcity) and energy efficiency


2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for Malta


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HOTER - Wastewater Recycling in the Hospitality Sector

Malta_GPE_HoterThe HOTER process is a tried and tested process based on the innovative concept of combining two membrane treatment processes in series to make it possible to recover as much as 85% of the water being brought in by a hotel or a large commercial establishment. The process can provide first-class water to EU Drinking Water standards for use as potable water in the guest rooms of the hotel, whilst also supplying a lower grade water to meet all second class water requirements (for toilet cistern flushing, laundries and landscaping purposes) – in a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly manner.

There is no doubt that water, and especially clean water, is in high demand anywhere in the world. An ever increasing world population is today enjoying a better quality of life, and this is putting additional stress on a finite amount of fresh water resources. Moreover, the potential of water contamination through inadequate treatment and disposal of waste (and wastewater) is also a big global issue.

Hotels, by nature, are inherently large consumers of water, and generate huge volumes of wastewater that must be disposed  safely to avoid pollution. A typical hotel may consume approximately 100 cubic metres of potable water a day and discharges the same volume as wastewater every day.

Current practice is that hotels generally get their water from the town water supply. Unfortunately, this results in (expensive) potable water being used for non-potable applications such as the flushing of toilets, laundry, swimming pools, landscaping etc, which may make up as much as 50% of all the water requirements of a hotel. This is inherently inefficient as a high value product (potable water) is being used for a low-value application (flushing of toilets). 

It is ideal to have a cost effective process with two sources of water at any premises – 1st class water that can be safely used for kitchens, showers, baths and wash-hand basins, and a source of 2nd class water that can be used specifically where there is no contact with humans such as landscaping.

There is an inherent demand for a technology that addresses the inefficiencies of catering for water demand and wastewater treatment within large water-consuming establishments, such as hotels. There is a need for a technology that can:

  • provide first-class water to EU Drinking Water standards for use as potable water in the guest rooms of the hotel, whilst also supplying a lower grade water to meet all second class water requirements (for toilet cistern flushing, laundries and landscaping purposes);
  • is compact, so that it can fit within the premises of a hotel or a commercial establishment; is reliable and can consistently provide water that is of a good quality;
  • is energy-efficient, and has low running costs (incl. chemicals);
  • has inherent operational flexibility to cater for seasonal and daily fluctuations in wastewater supply/water demand; is cost effective and can compete with other conventional sources of water.   

Sustech Consulting has developed a proprietary innovative wastewater recycling process – the HOTER process – that meets all of the above requirements. HOTER eliminates the inherent inefficiencies of conventional water supplies and wastewater disposal/treatment systems by providing water of the right quality, on-site and on demand at a fraction of the cost of conventional sources.

The process is the result of 2 years research and development carried out by Sustech Consulting at the Golden Sands Resort and Spa in Malta , where a prototype was designed, built and tested over 12 months.

Barriers and Drivers

At the current stage of development HOTER is cost-effective when:

•              The demand for water consumption by the hotel or establishment is not less than 150m³ per day.

•              The current unit price for water and wastewater treatment exceeds €4 per m³.

The HOTER process is most suitable for large consumers of potable water where the cost of water is already high (and increasing). Global combined water and wastewater tariffs rose by an average 8.2% between June 2009 and June 2010, and the forecasts show that this trend will continue.

Moreover, the cost of the HOTER process’s main component – membranes - is falling as more and more suppliers enter the supply market. HOTER’s ability to provide two functions – wastewater treatment and water production – at one go, and within the same premises (i.e. no pumping costs and no leakages) – make it a very cost-effective alternative to conventional methods of water supply and municipal sewage collection and treatment.   

HOTER also provides a more holistic solution by cleaning up wastewater and providing fresh water in abundant supply, directly proportional to its demand. The potential of HOTER in the global market is huge, and this has been attested to by the number and prestige of international awards won by HOTER to date. 

Barriers to HOTER include:

-           The psycological barrier (referred to as the ‘yuck’ factor) arising from the reluctance of hotel owners and hotel guests to accept the novel idea of using potable-quality water (for showers, baths and wash-hand basins) derived from wastewater

-               The current stage of membrane development today limits the cost effectiveness of HOTER to establishments consuming more than 150 cubic metres of water per day, as an annual average. While relatively large 4- or 5-star hotels have such a demand, smaller hotels and establishments cannot avail themselves of this technology as yet.However, developments in this sector are pushing the prices for this technology down, while improving performance.

Economic Performance

The cost of the HOTER plant is approximately €300,000 and runs on an operational cost of approximately €22,000 per annum. A hotel reaching the above-mentioned thresholds will generate cost saving of approximately €55,000 per annum on water and sewage treatment tariffs by implementing a HOTER Plant. The savings are also expected to increase year on year as the tariffs for water and sewage treatment continue to escalate internationally, so much so that it is calculated that a hotel may reach a total saving of approximately €1 million over the lifetime of a plant.

Social Performance

HOTER benefits the community by reducing operating costs of hotels and large commercial establishments, making them more competitive, more profitable and therefore more economically viable. This in turn increases tourism and commercial activity, with a resultant increase employment and general well being of the community. 

Environmental Impact

HOTER makes most sense for establishments in countries in which the potable water supply is either not reliable, or is expensive (the tariff generally reflects the cost of producing and delivering the water to the consumer). Of course, it follows that countries that suffer from water scarcity fall under this category and are in a situation of water-stress. In most cases, water stress leads to over-exploitation of the water resource, to the detriment of the sustainability of the resource (as is the case for Malta). HOTER provides a degree of self-sufficiency to large water-consuming establishments, thus reducing the stress on the municipal water supply and the (generally over-exploited) resources that contribute towards the municipal water supply. Another environmental advantage of HOTER is that it enables hotel establishments to reduce its polluting load onto the environment. The wastewater is treated in-house and the solids that accrue from the process can be used as a soil conditioner by landscaping projects within the same hotel. Moreover, it is a known fact that municipal sewage networks leak, so HOTER effectively also reduces the risk of contamination of the environment through sewage leakages.      

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