Solid Waste Management in Tunisia

Solid waste management has emerged as a big challenge for the Mediterranean country of Tunisia. The country, having an estimated population of around 11 million people, produces more than 2.5 million tons of garbage each year. Tunisia is experiencing an average increase in waste volume by 3% with per capita waste generation in urban areas being 0.8 kg per day. Biodegradable organic fraction constitutes around 68% of the MSW stream.

MSW collection is covered at 80% in urban areas and 10% in rural areas. The country has 10 controlled landfills with a capacity of 1,788,000 tons per year and four other semi-controlled landfills in the Valley Medjerda with a capacity of 62,000 tons per year. Five other discharges with a nominal capacity of 0.466 million tons per year are being built and finally five other controlled discharges are planned with an average capacity of 0.433 million tons per year. Many municipal landfills do not meet sanitary standards and waste is often dumped into non-sanitary areas. Interestingly, only five percent of MSW is composted and merely 4% recycled. The expenditure for waste collection and transport constitutes 75-100% of the total solid waste management budget.

Borj Chakir Landfill

Eight kilometers south of Tunis is Borj Chakir, a town that has become infamous for a landfill that has damaging effects on the surrounding environment and quality of life of locals. The Borj Chakir landfill created in 1999 is the largest dumping ground and only regulated landfill in Tunis (which includes the governorates of Tunis, Manouba, Ariana and Ben Arous). The site occupies 120 hectares of what was once agricultural land planted with olive trees and grains. According to the facility specifications published in 1997 the landfill at Borj Chakir is intended for solid waste but current activities shows it operation outside of norms. Over the years the residents of El Attar/Borj Chakir,Jiyara and Sidi Hassine have suffered from compromised health and sanitation as a consequence of the waste collection site that has contaminated air, water, soil and as a result of their exposure to toxic odors of leachate.

Recycling Situation

The country possesses comprehensive environmental laws to encourage the sustainable management and recycling of municipal and industrial waste but there is doubt if the necessary measures for a good application have been provided. The Tunisian Government is often criticized for leaving the responsibility of waste management to the National Waste Management Agency (ANGED).

Borj Chakir landfill is a major cause of environmental and public health concerns.

Every year Tunisians use one billion plastic bags generating 10,000 tons of waste that have wreaked havoc on the environment. Almost 400 Private Companies are authorized by the Ministry of Environment to collect, transport and recycle plastics. Five private collectors and recyclers of used tires were also authorized while paper and cardboard recycling is still in its infancy. There is also a small informal sector for recycling food packaging.

Future Outlook

After the Arab Spring, Tunisia faced additional challenges maintaining existing waste management practices due to repeated strikes and dysfunctioning of municipal and rural council which destabilized cleaning service. There is a general view among the populace that the way waste is managed should be changed towards an integrated management style which entails collection to treatment because of the relationship between environmental impact and effects on human health are apparent. The market for environmental protection, pollution control equipment and technology has significant potential as anticipated tenders for landfills, coastal pollution project and waste water treatment all offer good opportunity for procurement.  

MSW Generation in the Middle East

The high rate of population growth, urbanization and economic expansion in the Middle East is not only accelerating consumption rates but also increasing the generation rate of all  sorts of waste. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita solid waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries has crossed 150 million tons per annum.The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. The region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the waste management sector. During the last few years, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans to Improve waste management scenario in their respective countries. 

Solid Waste Generation Statistics

Saudi Arabia produce more than 15 million tons of garbage each year. With an approximate population of about 28 million, the country produces approximately 1.3 kilograms of waste per person every day. More than 5,000 tons of urban waste is generated in the city of Jeddah alone. 

The per capita MSW generation rate  in the United Arab Emirates ranges from 1.76 to 2.3 kg/day. According to a recent study, the amount of solid waste in UAE totaled 4.892 million tons, with a daily average of 6935 tons in the city of Abu Dhabi, 4118 tons in Al Ain and 2349 tons in the western region.

Qatar's annual waste generation stands at 2.5 million tons while Kuwait produces 2 million tons MSW per annum. Bahrain generates more than 1.5 million tons of municipal waste every year. Countries like Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have astonishingly high per capita waste generation rate, primarily because of high standard of living and lack of awarness about sustainable waste management practices.

Country

MSW Generation

(million tons per annum)

Saudi Arabia

13

UAE

5

Qatar

2.5

Kuwait

2

Bahrain

1.5

In addition, huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment, human health and marine life. On an average, the rate of municipal wastewater generation in the Middle East is 80-200 litres per person per day. Cities in the region are facing increasing difficulties in treating sewage, as has been the case in Jeddah where 500,000 cubic metre of raw sewage is discarded in Buraiman Lake daily. Sewage generation across the region is rising by an astonishing rate of 25 percent every year which is bound to create major headaches for urban planners. 

Waste-to-Energy for the Middle East

Municipal solid waste in the Middle East is comprised of organic fraction, paper, glass, plastics, metals, wood etc which can be managed by making use of recycling, composting and/or waste-to-energy technologies. The composting process is a complex interaction between the waste and the microorganisms within the waste. Central composting plants are capable of handling more than 100,000 tons of biodegradable waste per year, but typically the plant size is about 10,000 to 30,000 tons per year.

Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn and landfill gas capture) or by modern conversion systems (such as anaerobic digestion, gasification and pyrolysis). The three principal methods of thermochemical conversion are combustion (in excess air), gasification (in reduced air), and pyrolysis (in absence of air). The most common technique for producing both heat and electrical energy from urban wastes is direct combustion. Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, ranging from small-scale technology to large grid-connected facilities, provide significantly higher efficiencies than systems that only generate electricity. 

At the landfill sites, the gas produced by the natural decomposition of MSW can be collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. In addition, the organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation. 

Anaerobic digestion is the most preferred option to extract energy from sewage, which leads to production of biogas and organic fertilizer. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or gasified/pyrolyzed to produce more energy. In addition, sewage-to-energy processes also facilitate water recycling. Infact, energy recovery from MSW is rapidly gaining worldwide recognition as the 4th R in sustainable waste management system – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Recover.

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What is Waste-to-Energy

Energy is the driving force for development in all countries of the world. The increasing clamor for energy and satisfying it with a combination of conventional and renewable resources is a big challenge. Accompanying energy problems in different parts of the world, another problem that is assuming critical proportions is that of urban waste accumulation.

The quantity of waste produced all over the world amounted to more than 12 billion tons in 2006, which increased to 13 billion tons in 2011. The rapid increase in population coupled with changing lifestyle and consumption patterns is expected to result in an exponential increase in waste generation of upto 18 billion tons by the year 2020.

Waste generation rates are affected by socio-economic development, degree of industrialization, and climate. Generally, the greater the economic prosperity and the higher percentage of urban population, the greater the amount of solid waste produced.

GCC countries are well-known for being the world’s top-ranked per capita waste generators. Reduction in the volume and mass of solid waste is a crucial issue especially in the light of limited availability of final disposal sites in the MENA countries. Millions of tons of waste are generated each year in the Middle East with the vast majority disposed of in open fields or burnt wantonly.

What is Waste to Energy

Waste-to-Energy (or WTE) is the use of modern combustion and biochemical technologies to recover energy, usually in the form of electricity and steam, from urban wastes. These new technologies can reduce the volume of the original waste by 90%, depending upon composition and use of outputs. The main categories of waste-to-energy technologies are physical technologies, which process waste to make it more useful as fuel; thermal technologies, which can yield heat, fuel oil, or syngas from both organic and inorganic wastes; and biological technologies, in which bacterial fermentation is used to digest organic wastes to yield fuel.

 

The three principal methods of thermochemical conversion corresponding to each of these energy carriers are combustion in excess air, gasification in reduced air, and pyrolysis in the absence of air. The most common technique for producing both heat and electrical energy from wastes is direct combustion. Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, ranging from small-scale technology to large grid-connected facilities, provide significantly higher efficiencies than systems that only generate electricity. 

Biochemical processes, like anaerobic digestion, can also produce clean energy in the form of biogas which can be converted to power and heat using a gas engine. In addition, wastes can also yield liquid fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, which can be used to replace petroleum-based fuels. Cellulosic ethanol can be produced from grasses, wood chips and agricultural residues by biochemical route using heat, pressure, chemicals and enzymes to unlock the sugars in biomass wastes. 

Conclusions

Waste-to-energy systems offer two important benefits of environmentally safe waste management and disposal, as well as the generation of clean electric power in the Middle East. Waste-to-energy is not only a solution to reduce the volume of waste that is and provide a supplemental energy source, but also yields a number of social benefits that cannot easily be quantified. The use of waste-to-energy as a method to dispose of solid and liquid wastes and generate power can significantly reduce environmental impacts of municipal solid waste management in the Middle East. 

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Waste-to-Energy Pathways

Waste-to-energy is the use of modern combustion and biological technologies to recover energy from urban wastes. The conversion of waste material to energy can proceed along three major pathways – thermochemical, biochemical and physicochemical. Thermochemical conversion, characterized by higher temperature and conversion rates, is best suited for lower moisture feedstock and is generally less selective for products. On the other hand, biochemical technologies are more suitable for wet wastes which are rich in organic matter.

Thermochemical Conversion

The three principal methods of thermochemical conversion are combustion (in excess air), gasification (in reduced air), and pyrolysis (in absence of air). The most common technique for producing both heat and electrical energy from wastes is direct combustion. Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, ranging from small-scale technology to large grid-connected facilities, provide significantly higher efficiencies than systems that only generate electricity.

Combustion technology is the controlled combustion of waste with the recovery of heat to produce steam which in turn produces power through steam turbines. Pyrolysis and gasification represent refined thermal treatment methods as alternatives to incineration and are characterized by the transformation of the waste into product gas as energy carrier for later combustion in, for example, a boiler or a gas engine. Plasma gasification, which takes place at extremely high temperature, is also hogging limelight nowadays.

Biochemical Conversion

Biochemical processes, like anaerobic digestion, can also produce clean energy in the form of biogas which can be converted to power and heat using a gas engine. Anaerobic digestion is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. Anaerobic digestion is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat.

In addition, a variety of fuels can be produced from waste resources including liquid fuels, such as ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, Fischer-Tropsch diesel, and gaseous fuels, such as hydrogen and methane. The resource base for biofuel production is composed of a wide variety of forestry and agricultural resources, industrial processing residues, and municipal solid and urban wood residues. Globally, biofuels are most commonly used to power vehicles, heat homes, and for cooking.

Physico-chemical Conversion

The physico-chemical technology involves various processes to improve physical and chemical properties of solid waste. The combustible fraction of the waste is converted into high-energy fuel pellets which may be used in steam generation. The waste is first dried to bring down the high moisture levels. Sand, grit, and other incombustible matter are then mechanically separated before the waste is compacted and converted into pellets or RDF. Fuel pellets have several distinct advantages over coal and wood because it is cleaner, free from incombustibles, has lower ash and moisture contents, is of uniform size, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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Waste Management Outlook for Qatar

Qatar is counted among the world’s fastest growing economies as well as richest countries in the world. The rapid industrialization of the country and high population growth generates a lot of wastes in the form of municipal wastes, construction & demolition debris, industrial wastes etc. Annual solid waste generation in Qatar has crossed 2.5 million tons, which corresponds to daily waste generation of more than 7,000 tons per day. The country has one of the highest per capita waste generation worldwide which ranges from 1.6 to 1.8 kg per day.

Solid Waste Management Scenario

Solid waste is mainly comprised of organic materials while the rest of the waste is made up of recyclables like glass, paper, metals and plastics. Waste is collected from across the country and predominantly disposed off in landfills. There are three landfills in Qatar; Umm Al-Afai for bulky and domestic waste, Rawda Rashed for construction and demolition waste, and Al-Krana for sewage wastes. This method of waste disposal by landfill is not a practical solution for a country like Qatar where land availability is limited and only 8% of the waste is recycled.

One of the promising developments in solid waste management sector in recent years has been the creation of Domestic Solid Waste Management Centre (DSWMC) at Mesaieed. This centre is designed to maximize recovery of resources and energy from waste by installing state-of-the-art technologies for separation, pre-processing, mechanical and organic recycling, and waste-to-energy and composting technologies. It will treat 1550 tons of waste per day, and is expected to generate enough power for in-house requirements, and supply a surplus of 34.4 MW to the national grid. 

Government Strategy

The Qatar Government has identified the need for better waste management and has made plans to address this issue in Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016. According to this plan the Government proposes to contain the levels of waste generated by households, commercial sites and industry and to recycle much more of the waste generated. Accordingly, the plan prioritizes actions to reduce the pressure on the environment, with the most preferable goal being the avoidance of waste. Where waste cannot be avoided, the preferred goals would be to reduce it, reuse it and recycle it, and the least desirable action is to dispose of materials.

The plan also proposes to initiate new policies to encourage firms to export recycled items and manufacturers to use recycled material. The Government is to consider providing subsidies to encourage more firms to enter the recycling business and public awareness campaigns to encourage waste separation. It also plans to improve collection networks and to provide recycling bins.

To generate new recycling activity sponsored demonstrations and public awareness activities are planned. Citizens will be made aware of the opportunity to use recycled products, such as furniture made from recycled wood or compost produced daily in Mesaieed. Citizens are to be encouraged to see waste reduction and recycling as a duty with the welfare of future generations in mind.

The critical step in establishing a solid waste management plan will be to coordinate responsibilities, activities and planning. The plan, to be aligned with the Qatar National Master Plan, will cover households, industry and commercial establishments, and construction and demolition. The plan will also provide classifications for different types of domestic and non- domestic waste, mapping their sources.

Future Perspectives

When the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 was conceived, the plant at Mesaieed might have been seen as an ideal solution, but by the time the project was completed the capacity of the plant to handle waste has been overwhelmed. The centre in Mesaieed can treat only 1550 tons of the 7000 tons generated everyday and this is only going to increase in future. Qatar needs a handful of such centers in order to tackle the growing menace of urban wastes.

While steps are being taken to handle waste generated in future, the Government needs to focus on creating mass awareness about 4Rs of waste management viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recovery. If this can be achieved then the public can be expected to play its part in helping to reduce the generation of waste and in recycling waste by making the process easier by segregating waste at the source. The public needs to be made aware of its responsibility and duty to the future generations. Since Qatar is predominantly a Muslim country, the government may also take help of Islamic scholars to motivate the population to reduce per capita waste generation.

Improvement in curbside collection mechanism and establishment of material recovery facilities and recycling centres may also encourage public participation in waste management initiatives. After a period of public education and demonstration, segregation-at-source needs to be implemented throughout the country. Legislation needs to be passed to ensure compliance, failure of which will attract a penalty with spot checks by the Government body entrusted with its implementation.

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Fuel Pellets from Solid Wastes

MSW is a poor-quality fuel and its pre-processing is necessary to prepare fuel pellets to improve its consistency, storage and handling characteristics, combustion behaviour and calorific value. Technological improvements are taking place in the realms of advanced source separation, resource recovery and production/utilisation of recovered fuel in both existing and new plants for this purpose. There has been an increase in global interest in the preparation of Refuse Derived Fuel (or RDF) containing a blend of pre-processed MSW with coal suitable for combustion in pulverised coal and fluidised bed boilers.

Pelletization of Urban Wastes

Pelletization of municipal solid waste involves the processes of segregating, crushing, mixing high and low heat value organic waste material and solidifying it to produce fuel pellets or briquettes, also referred to as Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) or Process Engineered Fuel (PEF) or Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). The process is essentially a method that condenses the waste or changes its physical form and enriches its organic content through removal of inorganic materials and moisture. The calorific value of RDF pellets can be around 4000 kcal/ kg depending upon the percentage of organic matter in the waste, additives and binder materials used in the process.

The calorific value of raw MSW is around 1000 kcal/kg while that of fuel pellets is 4000 kcal/kg. On an average, about 15–20 tons of fuel pellets can be produced after treatment of 100 tons of raw garbage. Since pelletization enriches the organic content of the waste through removal of inorganic materials and moisture, it can be very effective method for preparing an enriched fuel feed for other thermo-chemical processes like pyrolysis/ gasification, apart from incineration.

Pellets can be used for heating plant boilers and for the generation of electricity. They can also act as a good substitute for coal and wood for domestic and industrial purposes. The important applications of RDF in the Middle East are found in the following spheres:

  • Cement kilns
  • RDF power plants
  • Coal-fired power plants
  • Industrial steam/heat boilers
  • Pellet stoves

The conversion of solid waste into briquettes provides an alternative means for environmentally safe disposal of garbage which is currently disposed off in non-sanitary landfills. In addition, the pelletization technology provides yet another source of renewable energy, similar to that of biomass, wind, solar and geothermal energy. The emission characteristics of RDF are superior compared to that of coal with fewer emissions of pollutants like NOx, SOx, CO and CO2.

RDF production line consists of several unit operations in series in order to separate unwanted components and condition the combustible matter to obtain the required characteristics. The main unit operations are screening, shredding, size reduction, classification, separation either metal, glass or wet organic materials, drying and densification. These unit operations can be arranged in different sequences depending on raw MSW composition and the required RDF quality.

Various qualities of fuel pellets can be produced, depending on the needs of the user or market. A high quality of RDF would possess a higher value for the heating value, and lower values for moisture and ash contents. The quality of RDF is sufficient to warrant its consideration as a preferred type of fuel when solid waste is being considered for co-firing with coal or for firing alone in a boiler designed originally for firing coal.

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Waste-to-Energy in Jordan: Potential and Challenges

landfill-jordanEffective sustainable solid waste management is of great importance both for people’s health and for environmental protection. In Jordan, insufficient financial resources, growing population, rapid urbanization, inadequate management and lacking of technical skills represent a serious environmental challenge confronting local government. At the same time, energy remains Jordan’s top challenge for development. The energy needs to be produced in a sustainable way, preferably from renewable sources which have a minimum environmental impact. To face the future problems in waste management, as well as securing the demand of renewable energy, it is necessary to reuse the wasted resources in energy production.

Jordan has definitely acknowledged that making affordable energy solutions available is critical to support industries, investment, and attain sustainable growth. One option is to use solid waste to generate electricity in centralized plants. Waste-to-energy has been recognized as an effective approach to improve recycling rates, reduce the dependence on fossil fuels, reduce the amount of materials sent to landfills and to avoid pollution.

Waste-to-Energy Potential

According to recent statistics, Jordan population stands at around 9.5 million. The estimated municipal waste generated according to the last five years average production is around 3,086,075 ton/year. This huge amount of waste generated is not only a burden, but a potential resource for use in energy production. Considering the country average waste composition 40% is organic waste e.g. avoidable and unavoidable food waste (1,200,000 ton), 10 % are recyclable e.g. paper, plastic, glass, ferrous metals and aluminum (300,000 ton) and 50% are suitable for incineration e.g. garden and park waste, wood and textiles (1,500,000 ton) with high calorific value and energy potential (8.1 MJ/Kg) that is capable to produce electricity 340 kWh/ton waste. The high organic waste is suitable for methane gas capture technologies which is estimated at 170 m3/ton waste.

Technology Options

Nowadays, there are many technologies available which makes it possible to utilize these energy potentials. The major alternatives conventional technologies for large scale waste management are incineration, landfilling and anaerobic digestion. These technologies are affordable, economical visible and associated with minimum environmental impact. The production of electricity is combined with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the current energy situation (90% of the country energy produced from fossil fuel), the country emission factor is around 819 CO2-eq/kWh. However, the use of waste to energy solutions is considered to be a clean and definitely the amount of GHG emitted is a lot less than the gases generated by ordinary practices (open dumping and unsanitary landfills).

Construction of an incineration plant for electricity production is often a profitable system even though the installation cost is high since production of electricity often leads to a large economic gain. Landfill gas utilization avoids the release of untreated landfill gases into the atmosphere, and produces electricity to sell commercially in an environmental friendly manner. However, landfilling is associated with methane production. Methane is a potent GHG, contributing 21 times more to global warming than carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic digestion technology is another option. Anaerobic digestion not only decrease GHGs emission but also it is the best technology for treatment of high organic waste through converting the biodegradable fraction of the waste into high-quality renewable calorific gas. Currently, with the growing use of anaerobic technology for treating waste and wastewater, it is expected to become more economically competitive because of its enormous advantages e.g. reduction of pathogens, deactivation of weed seeds and production of sanitized compost.

alghabawi-landfill-jordan

Sorting at the place of generation and recycling e.g. paper, plastic, glass and metals needed to be practiced at the country level or at least where these technologies implemented. Incinerated waste containing plastics (not sorted) releases carbon dioxide, toxic substances and heavy metals to the atmosphere and contributes thereby to climate change and to global warming.

Challenges to Overcome

Waste-to-energy technologies offer enormous potentials as a renewable energy sources and to mitigate climate change in Joran. However, these technologies pose many challenges to the country and discussion makers. Currently, the waste sector is administrated by the government. Poor regulation and insufficient financial resources are limiting the available options toward adapting these new technologies. Private investments and collaboration with the private sector is the key solution in this regard.

النفايات الصلبة في قطاع غزة

لم تكن التحذيرات التي أطلقها منسق الشئون الإنسانية  بالأمم المتحدة "ماكسويل جيلارد" بالأمر المفاجئ أو الغريب على أكثر من مليون و نصف غزّي يسكنون في تلك البقعة من العالم. هذه التحذيرات بنيت على دراسة تابعة للأمم المتحدة صدرت في شهر أغسطس 2012 و أشارت إلى أن قطاع غزة لن يكون "ملائماً للحياة" بحلول عام 2020. فقطاع غزة يعاني من مشكلات كثيرة منذ أكثر من عقد من الزمان مع بدء الانتفاضة الثانية عام 2001 و ما تلاه من حصار خانق بعد فوز حركة المقاومة الإسلامية حماس في الانتخابات التشريعية عام 2006.

في أيامنا هذه و مع وصول أول سفينة فضائية لكوكب المريخ، ما زال قطاع غزة يعاني الكثير من المشاكل البيئية بسبب الوضع السياسي، الاجتماعي، الاقتصادي، التنظيمي ، و التقني السائد في مدن القطاع. خلال الأسطر القادمة، سأصطحبكم لكي نلقي الضوء على إحدى المشاكل التي نعيشها منذ عقود من الزمان. و قبل البدء أريد أن أوضح بأني لا أملك العصا السحرية لتغيير الحال بين عشية و ضحاها و لست بالدبلوماسي لأقوم بإلقاء التهم على جهة معينة أو فرد بعينه ولكن المقصد هو إلقاء الضوء على هذه القضية عسى أن تصل رسالتي كمواطن لأصحاب القرار.

يعاني قطاع غزة من مشكلة متفاقمة في ادارة النفايات الصلبة، نتيجة لوصول مكبات النفايات إلى الحد الاستيعابي الأقصى، و غياب الاهتمام من قبل الجهات المعنية على العمل لحل الأزمة. ففي عام 2010، قدرت وزارة التخطيط كمية النفايات التي نتجت من قطاع غزة ب 1300 طن/يومياً على أن تتضاعف هذه الكمية لتصل إلى 2350 طن/يومياً بعد عشرين عاماً. فهذه الأرقام، مصحوبة بتصريحات السيد "ماكسويل جيلارد" بأن عدد السكان في قطاع غزة سيزيد إلى 2.1 مليون في عام 2020، جعلت من الأهمية أن أتطرق لهذا الموضوع و نطرحه على الطاولة للنقاش. فالمشكلة كبيرة  و أسبابها عديدة و لكن و من باب الانصاف يجدر القول أن إدارة المخلفات الصلبة قد شهدت تحسنا ملحوظا في السنوات الأخيرة بفضل المشاريع الدولية التي نفذت في هذا المجال و الشعور بخطورة ما وصل إليه الحال في مناطق القطاع المختلفة.

أسباب وجود هذه المشكلة

و في بداية الحديث عن حلول قد تساعد على التخفيف من هذه المشكلة المتفاقمة، يجدر بنا أن ندرس الأسباب التي أحدثت هذه القضية . فمن خلال البحث و التدقيق، توصلت إلى أن الأسباب هي كالتالي:

أولاً: عدم كفاءة النظام الحالي بسبب غياب الدراسات التفصيلية و عدم وجود الرؤية الموحدة بين الجهات المعنية بإدارة الملف. فعلي سبيل المثال، قانون البيئة رقم (7) لعام 1999 غير مطبق حتى الآن مما يفقد الجهات المختصة السلطة و القوة لفرض سيطرتها من أجل تحسين الوضع العام.

ثانياً: الزيادة المفرطة في عدد السكان في القطاع مصحوباً بزيادة كميات المخلفات و عدم وجود الأماكن المناسبة لطمر المخلفات بطرق سليمة.

ثالثاً: عدم إدراك عامة الشعب بحساسية الموضوع و ضرورة التعاون مع الجهات المختصة لحل الأزمة.  مما سبق، يمكن أن نستنتج الآلية التي أرى أنها قد تساعد على أن تغير الحال الحالي.

أولى هذه الخطوات هي توفر سياسة و رؤية موحدة  ما بين كل الجهات الحكومية المعنية في هذا الشأن بالإضافة إلى البلديات من أجل وضع خطة شاملة تعمل على تحسين الوضع العام لنظام إدارة النفايات الصلبة في قطاع غزة.

هذا المبدأ لابد أن يقوم أساساً على نموذج 3R الأكثر اتباعاً في أيامنا هذه و يشمل ثلاث مقترحات لإدارة الأزمة بطريقة صحيحة و هي (تقليل كمية النفايات الناتجة Reduce ، إعادة استخدام Reuse، إعادة التدوير Recycle) و فيما يلي توضيح لهذه الخطوات:

أولا: تقليل النفايات Reduce

بالغالب تزيد كمية النفايات الناتجة من أي مجتمع بزيادة عدد أفراده. فخلال السنوات الماضية، شهدت الكميات الناتجة ارتفاعاً ملحوظاً دون إدراك عامة الشعب لخطورة الأزمة. و لهذا وجب علينا أن نركز على هذه القضية و نعمل على تغيير ما بأنفس الناس و دعوتهم أن يكونوا على قدر المسئولية و أن يقوموا بدورهم في هذا الملف عن طريق العمل على تقليل المخلفات الصادرة من منازلهم. كما أنه يجب على البلديات إعداد برامج خاصة لإدارة النفايات الصلبة للقطاع التجاري وفرض قيود على أصحاب الأعمال للتقليل من كميات المخلفات الناتجة من أنشطتهم التجارية.

ثانيا: إعادة الاستخدام Reuse

إعادة استخدام المخلفات ليس حل لمشكلة المخلفات و حسب، بل إنه من الأمور التي قد تدفع العجلة الاقتصادية إلى الأمام  من خلال تقليص ميزانية شراء المواد الخام لبعض الصناعات,  و زيادة رأس المال لصناعات الأخرى. فمن خلال هذه الطريقة، يمكن لأصحاب الصناعات بيع كل ما يزيد عن أنشطتهم التجارية لجهات أخرى و جني دخل إضافي للمؤسسة التجارية.

و كمثال آخر، يمكن لهذا المبدأ أن يستخدم كأداة للعديد من المؤسسات غير الربحية عن طريق بيع ما يتبرع به المواطنون من أدوات ليسوا بحاجة لها فيما يعرف بمحلات " الأدوات المستعملة"  و لكن النظرة المجتمعية لهذه الفكرة سلبية و غير مرحب بها لاعتبارات اجتماعية و لكن يجدر الإشارة إلى فوائد هذا النوع من المشاريع و منها:

  • زيادة نسبة المواد المعاد استخدامها بين المواطنين ( أثاث، كتب، أدوات كهربائية).
  • زيادة الدخل المالي لهذه المؤسسات مما يزيد من أنشطتها الميدانية للمواطنين.
  • تغيير بعض العادات السلوكية بين المواطنين و تشجيع الاندماج و التعاون بين كافة أفراد المجتمع.

ثالثا: إعادة التدوير Recycle  

أشارت دراسات إلى أن نسبة إعادة التدوير في قطاع غزه 4.2 % لعام 2002 بمعدل 9 طن/يومياً يتم إعادة تدويرها بمبادرة فردية لبعض الصناعات المحلية. ترجع النسبة الضئيلة هذه إلى عدة عوامل منها:

 أولاً: غياب الدعم الحكومي لمشاريع إعادة التدوير.

ثانياً: عدم اهتمام عامة الشعب لهذه المشاريع و تقدير القيمة الاقتصادية لها. ففي حقيقة الأمر، و نتيجة لزيادة أسعار المواد الخام في الأسواق العالمية، فقد زادت أسعار بعض الأنواع من المخلفات لتصل إلى أكثر من 100دولار/ طن      ( فعلى سبيل المثال: سعر طن البلاستيك PET  250-300   دولار/طن، و سعر الورق المقوى (كرتون) يتراوح بين 240-260  دولار/طن)

و من هنا تنبع ضرورة الاهتمام بهذا النوع من المشاريع من أجل دفع العجلة الاقتصادية للقطاع. و من ناحية عملية يمكن أن يتم البدء بهذه المشاريع بإدارة عليا من البلديات و لكن عن طريق انشاء عدد من الشركات و خصخصتها من أجل تحقيق التنمية الاقتصادية و البيئية في آن واحد. 

في الختام و من خلال التحليل السابق يتضح أن قضية إدارة النفايات الصلبة تتطلب خطوة  مشتركة بين الدولة و الشعب عن طريق وضع أهداف واضحة و محددة المعالم و من ثم العمل على النهوض بالوضع البيئي في قطاع غزة.

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ادارة النفايات في الشرق الاوسط – التحديات الرئيسية

يعد الشرق الأوسط من  اخصب الأماكن في توليد النفايات عالميا, ويعد نمط الحياة المسرف, و التشريعات غير الفعالة, و معيقات توفير البنى التحتية, و السلوكيات العامة غير المبالية, و انقص التوعية البيئية من العوامل الأساسية المؤدية لنمو مشاكل النفايات في الشرق الأوسط. كما يسهم مستوى المعيشة المرتفع  مقرونا بعدم توفر مرافق جمع والتخلص من النفايات في تحويل موضوع "القمامة"  الى "مسؤولية" .

العقبات الرئيسية

ان الأدراك العام للنفايات يتمحور حول اللامبالاة و عدم الاكتراث, و يتم التعامل مع النفايات  على انها(نفايات) و ليس (موارد). وهناك حاجة ملحة لزيادة الوعي لدى العامة حول القضايا البيئية, وممارسات ادارة النفايات الصلبة و المعيشة المستدامة. وتتصف  مشاركة العامة في المبادرات المجتمعية لأدارة النفايات بالخمول وذلك بسبب تدني مستوى الوعي البيئي و التعليم العام. للأسف ليس لدى أي من بلدان المنطقة الية فعالة  لفصل النفايات من المصدر.

تعاني ادارة النفايات الصلبة في الشرق الأوسط  من قصور التشريعات و سوء التخطيط. ولا يتوفر في الكثير من الدول  تشريعات للتعامل مع موضوع النفايات, اضافة الى عدم كفاية التمويل, وغياب خطط أدارة النفايات, و  ضعف التنسيق  بين الجهات ذات العلاقة, وعدم توفر القوى البشرية المؤهلة, فضلا عن  ضعف القرارات الفنية والادارية , مما يؤدي بمجمله الى عدم قدرة تلك الدول على تنفيذ استراتيجية متكاملة لادارة النفايات في المنطقة. تسند صلاحيات ادارة النفايات في العديد من البلدان الى الشركات التابعة للحكومة و البلديات و هذا بدوره يؤدي الى عدم تشجيع مشاركة القطاع الخاص والرياديين في هذا القطاع.

على الرغم من تشديد  الأسلام على جوانب  تقليل النفايات, الا انه ولسوء الحظ فان  معدلات توليد النفايات للفرد في البلدان العربية هي من الاعلى في العالم.  بسبب عدم توفر المرافق المناسبة لتجميع النفايات والتخلص منها,فأنه من الشائع في المنطقة أن ترى النفايات ملقاة عشوائيا في الاماكن المفتوحة  والصحارى و المسطحات المائية. علاوة على ذلك فان قلة الوعي وتقاعس الناس عن تقليل نفاياتهم وفصلها عند المصدر وادارتها باسلوب صحيح يشكل  قضية حرجة أخرى

يحتاج النظام المستدام لادارة النفايات  الى  مشاركة واسعة من العامة, و تشريعات فعالة, و تمويل كافي, اضافة الى ا ممارسات وتكنولوجيا حديثة  لادارة النفايات. يأمل الأقليم في تحسين سيناريوهات ادارة النفايات عن طريق فصل النفايات في المصدر, و تشجيع مشاركة القطاع الخاص, وتطبيق أنظمة اعادة التدوير و توليد الطاقة من النفايات, وتطوير منظومة تشريعية و مؤسسية قوية ومؤثرة.

بصيص الأمل

في السنوات الاخيرة, قام عدد من البلدان مثل قطر و دولة الامارات العربية المتحدة, بانشاء مشاريع طموحة لادارة النفايات الصلبة, الا ان فعاليتها لم تؤكد بعد. و بشكل عام, تخطو دول المنطقة خطوات بطيئة ولكن ثابتة نحو التصدي لتحديات ادارة النفايات وذلك من خلال الاستثمارات الكبيرة في مثل هذه المشاريع, و ايجاد تكنولوجيا جديدة و رفع مستوى الوعي العام. غير ان سرعة التقدم والانجاز غير متوافقة مع معدل زيادة توليد النفايات في المنطقة. ان الادارة المستدامة للنفايات تعد تحديا كبيرا لصانعي السياسات, و المخططين الحضريين و غيرهم من الجهات ذات العلاقة, و هناك حاجة الى خطوات فورية لمعالجة جبال النفايات المتراكمة في مدن منطقة الشرق الأوسط.

 ترجمة:

لمى ماهر غرايبه-طالبة بكالوريس في العمارة (جامعة العلوم و التكنولجيا الأردنية)-مهتمة في مجالات العمارة الخضراء و الطاقة المتجددة.

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Solid Waste Management in the Middle East – Major Challenges

Middle East is one of the most prolific waste generating regions of the world. Lavish lifestyle, ineffective legislations, infrastructural roadblocks, indifferent public attitude and lack of environmental awareness are the major factors responsible for growing waste management problem in the Middle East. High standards of living are contributing to more generation of waste which when coupled with lack of waste collection and disposal facilities have transformed ‘trash’ into a liability.

Major Hurdles

The general perception towards waste is that of indifference and apathy. Waste is treated as ‘waste’ rather than as a ‘resource’. There is an urgent need to increase public awareness about environmental issues, waste management practices and sustainable living. Public participation in community-level waste management initiatives is lackluster mainly due to low level of environmental awareness and public education. Unfortunately none of the countries in the region have an effective source-segregation mechanism.

Solid waste management in the Middle East is bogged down by deficiencies in waste management legislation and poor planning. Many countries lack legislative framework and regulations to deal with wastes. Insufficient funds, absence of strategic waste management plans, lack of coordination among stakeholders, shortage of skilled manpower and deficiencies in technical and operational decision-making are some of the hurdles experienced in implementing an integrated waste management strategy in the region. In many countries waste management is the sole prerogative of state-owned companies and municipalities which discourage participation of private companies and entrepreneurs.

Though Islam put much stress on waste minimization, Arab countries are among the world’s highest per capita waste generator which is really unfortunate. Due to lack of garbage collection and disposal facilities, dumping of waste in open spaces, deserts and water bodies is a common sight across the region. Another critical issue is lack of awareness and public apathy towards waste reduction, source segregation and waste management.

A sustainable waste management system demands high degree of public participation, effective legislations, sufficient funds and modern waste management practices/technologies. The region can hope to improve waste management scenario by implementing source-segregation, encouraging private sector participation, deploying recycling and waste-to-energy systems, and devising a strong legislative and institutional framework.

Silver Lining

In recent year, several countries, like Qatar and UAE, have established ambitious solid waste management projects but their efficacy is yet to be ascertained. On the whole, Middle East countries are slowly, but steadily, gearing up to meet the challenge posed by waste management by investing heavily in such projects, sourcing new technologies and raising public awareness. However the pace of progress is not matched by the increasing amount of waste generated across the region. Sustainable waste management is a big challenge for policy-makers, urban planners and other stake-holders, and immediate steps are needed to tackle mountains of wastes accumulating in cities throughout the Middle East.

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Waste Management Perspectives for Egypt

Egypt occupies 7th position in the list of countries with the most mismanaged plastic waste, according to a recent report published in Science magazine. The report was based on data collected in 2010 and one must wonder whether the results of the report would have been different if the zabbaleen had been allowed to continue their work unhindered.

A History of the Zabbaleen

The zabbaleen, or garbage collectors, are the descendants of farmers from Upper Egypt who moved to Cairo in the 1940s. Together with another migrant group, they have made a living in Cairo collecting, sorting, salvaging, and recycling the waste of the city's nearly 20 million residents. With the help of NGOs, the zabbaleen recycled up to 80% of the waste they collected, more than three times the amount of waste recycled by garbage collectors in major cities in developed nations. The zabbaleen collected the garbage free of charge; they were part of Cairo's informal public sector. Their work was not supported by the government. Their income came from selling the recyclable material and from the pigs they raised on the organic waste. Many residents also gave monetary tips to the garbage collectors. This meager income barely supported the zabbaleen, who live together in different settlements around the city, all of them extremely poor.

Believing the zabbaleen's system to be backwards and unhygienic, in 2003, the government sold contracts to three multinational companies (and one local company) to collect Cairo's waste, pushing the zabbaleen out of the system. These companies were required to recycle only 20% of the waste collected, the other 80% making its way to landfills. It did not take long for residents to complain about this new service. They now had to pay for their garbage collection and that did not include door-to-door pick-up. There were not enough bins in the streets to hold all the waste and streets quickly filled with the overflowing garbage. The new companies simply could not keep up with the waste being produced. Not only did this have a devastating effect on the waste management situation in Cairo, it destroyed the zabbaleen's way of life as they lost access to the garbage that was the foundation of their economic activities. At one point, the private companies realized they needed the zabbaleen and tried to subcontract them, but the zabbaleen were highly underpaid and the system failed. Some residents, though, continued to hire the zabbaleen on their own.

Adding to both the city's garbage woes and the plight of the zabbaleen, in 2009, in response to the H1Ni influenza outbreak, the government ordered the culling of all the zabbaleen's pigs. These pigs were an essential part of the zabbaleen's recycling program. The pigs consumed all of the organic waste that was sorted from the garbage. When they lost their pig herds, the zabbaleen stopped collecting organic waste and the effect was felt almost immediately. Again, residents complained about the trash piling up on the streets. The trash piles became home to rats and disease. And once again, the zabbaleen suffered as they were no longer able to earn enough money to support themselves and had lost an important food source.

Change is in the Air

Since the 2011 revolution, many changes have taken place in Egypt, spurred on by environmentally-minded individuals, small businesses, and new government ministers. One of the more hopeful changes involves the collection of garbage. The government has finally implemented a proposal for officially employing the zabbaleen, replacing the international companies with smaller zabbaleen-run companies. Once registered, the local companies are given uniforms, government vehicles and business training from an NGO. The system had a test-run and debuted in a few areas late last year. If successful, there are plans to expand over the next two years. This is good news for Cairo's waste management and even better news for the zabbaleen.

Other private-sector initiatives are tackling recycling as well.  Recyclobekia is a new company that offers electronic waste recycling services. The company collects, sorts, and dismantles e-waste – old laptops, computers, cameras, phones, and more – and in return companies and individuals are given credit for an online shop or even cash if they recycle more than 500 kg of waste. GreenTec is an exciting recycling initiative that offers Automated Recycling Machines. With these machines, individuals can deposit their plastic water bottles and receive credit for their mobile phones. Another new venture coming out of Cairo is Refuse, a company that upcycles plastic bags and creates backpacks, tote bags, laptop covers, and other accessories with this waste. They also offer workshops to teach others how to upcycle.  Gamayit El-Misbah El-Mudii, started in 2005, provides free collection and recycling of paper, plastic, glass, and other items. They collect from individuals, schools, and businesses. Resala, a charity organization, also offers recycling services. As these initiatives and companies continue to grow, so will the awareness and action of individuals in terms of waste management and recycling.

Individual Action

While our local and national authorities attempt to improve the collection and recyling of our waste at the city level, it is important to remember that we as individuals can do a lot as well. The first and simplest action we can take it to sort our trash into organic and non-organic waste. Our garbage collectors, whoever they may be, will appreciate this effort and it will keep any paper or board waste clean so that it can be recycled. Once you've sorted your trash, make sure it's getting recycled. If the zabbaleen do not collect in your area, contact one of the organizations listed above. The most important action we can take is to reduce the amount of waste we are creating in the first place. Less waste produced means less waste needing to be managed. We can start by refusing to use or purchase disposable plastic. Bring your own reusable bags to the supermarket so that you don't need the plastic ones. Invest in a water filter and a reusable bottle so you can drink your tap water and skip the plastic water bottles. Avoid buying food packaged with polystyrene; it's not recyclable. Read this guide to a plastic-free life and search other websites for tips and ideas on reducing plastic waste. You'll find that most of the suggestions will be better for your health and the health of our environment, and at the same time, save you money. If we all do our part by taking these steps, perhaps Egypt won't make the top ten list of worst plastic offenders again.

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Garbage Woes in Cairo

Cairo, being one of the largest cities in the world, is home to more than 15 million inhabitants. Like other mega-cities, solid waste management is a huge challenge for Cairo municipality and other stakeholders.  The city produces more than 15,000 tons of solid waste every day which is putting tremendous strain on city’s infrastructure. Waste collection services in Cairo are provided by formal as well as informal sectors. While local authorities, such as the Cairo Cleanliness and Beautification Authority (CCBA), form the formal public sector, the informal public sector is comprised of traditional garbage-collectors (the Zabbaleen).

Around 60 percent of the solid waste is managed by formal as well as informal waste collection, disposal or recycling operations while the rest is thrown on city streets or at illegal dumpsites. The present waste management is causing serious ecological and public health problems in Cairo and adjoining areas. Infact, disposal of solid waste in water bodies has lead to contamination of water supplies is several parts of the city. Waste collection in Cairo is subcontracted to ‘zabbaleen’, local private companies, multinational companies or NGOs. The average collection rate ranges from 0 percent in slums to 90% in affluent residential areas.

The Zabbaleen of Cairo

The Zabbaleen, traditional waste collectors of Cairo, have been responsible for creating one of the world’s most efficient and sustainable resource-recovery and waste-recycling systems. Since 1950's, the Zabbaleen have been scouring the city of Cairo to collect waste from streets and households using donkey carts and pickup trucks. After bringing the waste to their settlement in Muqattam Village, also called Cairo’s garbage city, the waste is sorted and transformed into useful products like quilts, rugs, paper, livestock food, compost, recycled plastic products etc. After removing recyclable and organic materials, the segregated waste is passed onto various enterprises owned by Zabbaleen families.

The Zabbaleen collect around 60 percent of the total solid waste generated in Cairo and recycle up to 80 percent of the collected waste which is much higher than recycling efficiencies observed in the Western world.  Over the last few decades, the Zabbaleen have refined their collection and sorting methods, built their own labor-operated machines and created a system in which every man, child and woman works.

Tryst with International Companies

In 2002, international waste management companies started operations in Egypt, particularly Cairo, Alexandria and Giza governorates, and the Zabbaleen were sidelined. However after ten years of participation in solid waste management in Cairo, their performance has been dismal. Infact, in 2009 Egyptian government acknowledged that solid waste management has deteriorated alarmingly after the entry of foreign companies.

The waste management situation in Greater Cairo has assumed critical proportions because of high population, increased waste generation and lack of waste collection infrastructure and disposal facilities. Garbage accumulation on streets, along highways and in waterways is a common sight. As a result of the bad performance of multinational private sector companies in SWM in Egypt during the last decade, the level of street cleanliness deteriorated and the pollution resulting from open-burning of trash increased significantly.

Moreover, the Zabbaleen suffered loss of livelihood after the entry of foreign solid waste management companies due to restricted access to their main asset. The mass slaughtering of pigs in 2009, after fears of swine flu epidemic, has lead to accumulation of organic wastes in many parts of the city.

The waste management situation in Cairo is at a serious juncture and concerted efforts are required to improve waste collection and disposal services across the city. The involvement of Zabbaleen is essential to the success of any waste management plan and the Egyptian government must involve all stake-holders is putting together a sustainable waste management for Cairo.

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