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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Waste Management in Jeddah

Jeddah, a major commercial hub in the Middle East, is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia. Solid waste management is a big problem in Jeddah as the city’s population is increasing at a rapid pace and has now touched 3.5 million. More than 5,000 tons of solid waste is produced every day and Jeddah municipal authorities are finding it increasingly hard to cope with the problem of urban waste.

The management of solid waste in Jeddah begins with collection of wastes from bins scattered across residential and commercial areas. Wastes is collected and sent to transfer stations from where it ultimately goes to the dumping site. Most of the MSW is disposed in the landfill facility at Buraiman which receives approximately 1.5 million tons of waste per year and has an expected lifespan of between 30 and 40 years.

Buraiman or (Almusk) Lake, has been the dumping site of Jeddah's sewage wastewater for more than a decade. Wastewater accumulates in underground cesspools and then transported by truck tankers to the sewage lake. The lake lies in east of Jeddah within the catchment of Wadi Bani Malek at about 130m above mean sea level. It contains more than 10 million cubic meters of sewage water spread over an area of 2.88 km2.

The sewage lake has caused some wells in Jeddah to become poisoned due to raw sewage leaking into aquifers. Some studies have reported that water table under Jeddah is rising at 50cm per year which is attributed to the inflow of untreated sewage. As the only dumpsite for municipal sewage and industrial waste, Buraiman Lake is continuously increasing in size, constantly moving towards the south, and is now reported to be only three kilometres away from city houses.

The lake was created as a stopgap measure to deal with the increasing amounts of wastewater in the growing city. Jeddah's residents use an estimated 200 litres of water per capita per day. The lake was to be used for depositing this water until a functioning sewage system was created. But plans were delayed because of inadequate funding. As 70 percent of Jeddah households are not connected to sewerage pipelines, wastewater accumulates in underground cesspools and later transported by lorries to Buraiman Lake.

About 50,000 cubic metres of water are transported to the 2.5 million square-metre lake each day. Only a small percentage of the waste water from the remaining 30 per cent of Jeddah households goes to treatment plants for purification before being dumped in the Red Sea. Most of the waste water that is accumulated through pipes is dumped directly into the sea without purification.

Keeping in view the prevalent waste management scenario, Jeddah municipality is continuously seeking ways to develop city’s sewage treatment infrastructure. However, the current infrastructure is incapable of handling the present generation of raw sewage, leading to the continued storing untreated sewage at Buraiman Lake and dumping the remaining portion directly into the Red Sea. 

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Solid Waste Management in Iraq

Iraq is one of the most populous Arab countries with population exceeding 32 million. Rapid economic growth, high population growth, increasing individual income and sectarian conflicts have led to worsening solid waste management problem in the country. Iraq is estimated to produce 31,000 tons of solid waste every day with per capita waste generation exceeding 1.4 kg per day. Baghdad alone produces more than 1.5 million tons of solid wastes each year.

Rapid increase in waste generation production is putting tremendous strain on Iraqi waste handling infrastructure which have heavily damaged after decades of conflict and mismanagement. In the absence of modern and efficient waste handling and disposal infrastructure most of the wastes are disposed in unregulated landfills across Iraq, with little or no concern for both human health and environment. Spontaneous fires, groundwater contamination, surface water pollution and large-scale greenhouse gas emissions have been the hallmarks of Iraqi landfills.

National Waste Management Plan

The National Solid Waste Management Plan (NSWMP) for Iraq was developed in 2007 by collaboration of international waste management specialist. The plan contains the recommendations for development and which explains the background for decisions. The key principles of waste strategy development in Iraq can be summarized as:

  • Sustainable development;
  • Proximately principles and self-sufficiency;
  • Precautionary principles;
  • Polluter pays principle;
  • Producer responsibility;
  • Waste hierarchy;
  • Best practicable environmental option.

The plan generally states that Iraq will build 33 environmentally engineered landfills with the capacity of 600 million m3 in all of the 18 governorates in Iraq by 2027. In addition to constructing landfills the plan also focuses on the collection and transportation, disposable, recycling and reuses systems. Social education was also taken into consideration to ensure provision of educational system which supports the participation of both communities and individuals in waste management in Iraq.

Besides Iraqi national waste management plan, the Iraqi ministry of environment started in 2008 its own comprehensive development program which is part of the ministry of environment efforts to improve environmental situation in Iraq. Ministry of Municipalities and Public Work, in collaboration with international agencies like UN Habitat, USAID, UNICEF and EU, are developing and implementing solid waste management master plans in several Iraqi governorates including Kirkuk, Anbar, Basra, Dohuk, Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Thi Qar.

Promising Developments

Kirkuk was the first city in Iraq to benefit from solid waste management program when foreign forces initiated a solid-waste management program for the city in 2005 to find an environmentally safe solution to the city’s garbage collection and disposal dilemma. As a result the first environmentally engineered and constructed landfill in Iraq was introduced in Kirkuk In February 2007. The 48-acre site is located 10 miles south of Kirkuk, with an expected lifespan of 10–12 years and meets both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and European Union Landfill Directive standards.

The Iraqi city of Basra also benefited from international aid with the completion of the first landfill that is compliant with international environmental standards has been completed. Basra solid waste management program developed by UNICEF will not only restore efficient waste collection systems in the citybut will also create informal “recycling schools” that will help in spreading environmental awareness in in the city’s society by launching a campaign to educate the public about effective waste disposal practices, in addition to that In the long term, the Basra city program plans to establish a regional treatment and disposal facility and initiate street sweeping crews. Basra city waste management program is part of the UNICEF program supported by the European Union to develop Iraq’s water and sanitation sector.

Erbil’s solid waste management master plan has also been developed by UNICEF with funding from the European Union. Recently a contract was signed by the Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism and a Canadian company to recycle the city's garbage which will involve the construction of two recycling plants in the eastern and western outskirts of Erbil.

UNICEF has also developed a master plan to improve the management of solid waste in Dohuk Governorate which has been finalized in June 2011. Solid waste management master plans for Anbar, Sulaimaniya and Thi Qar governorates are also a part of UNICEF and EU efforts to attaining Iraq’s Millennium Development Goal targets of ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015.

Even though all of the effort by the international organizations are at local level and still not enough to solve solid waste management problem in Iraq, however these initiatives have been able to provide a much needed information regarding the size of the issue and valuable lessened learned used later by the Iraqi government to develop the Iraqi national waste management plan with the support of organizations such as UN Habitat, UNDG Iraq Trust Fund and USAID. The Iraqi national waste management plan is expected to ease the solid waste management problem in Iraq in the near future.

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Solid Waste Management in Qatar

Qatar is counted among the world’s fastest growing economies. Municipal solid waste management is one of the most serious challenges faced by this tiny Gulf nation on account of high population growth rate, urbanization, industrial growth and economic expansion. The country has one of the highest per capita waste generation rates worldwide which is as high as 1.8 kg per day. Qatar produces more than 2.5 million tons of municipal solid waste each year. Solid waste stream is mainly comprised of organic materials (around 60 percent) while the rest of the waste steam is made up of recyclables like glass, paper, metals and plastics.

Municipalities are responsible for solid waste collection in Qatar both directly, using their own logistics, and indirectly through private sector contract. Waste collection and transport is carried out by a large fleet of trucks that collect MSW from thousands of collection points scattered across the country.

The predominant method of solid waste disposal is landfilling. The collected is discharged at various transfer stations from where it is sent to the landfill. 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. However, the method of waste disposal by landfill is not a practical solution for a country like Qatar where land availability is limited.

Waste Management Strategy

According to Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016, the country will adopt a multi-faceted strategy to contain the levels of waste generated by households, commercial sites and industry – and to promote recycling initiatives. Qatar intends to adopt integrated waste hierarchy of prevention, reduction, reuse, recycling, energy recovery, and as a last option, landfill disposal. 

A comprehensive solid waste management plan is being implemented which will coordinate responsibilities, activities and planning for managing wastes from households, industry and commercial establishments, and construction industry. The target is to recycle 38 percent of solid waste, up from the current 8 percent, and reduce domestic per capita waste generation. Five waste transfer stations have been setup in South Doha, West Doha, Industrial Area, Dukhan and Al-Khor to reduce the quantity of waste going to Umm Al-Afai landfill. These transfer stations are equipped with material recovery facility for separating recyclables such as glass, paper, aluminium and plastic.

In this respect, one of the most promising developments 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. 

The Way Forward

While commendable steps are being undertaken to handle solid waste, the Government should also strive to enforce strict waste management legislation and create mass awareness about 4Rs of waste management viz. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recovery. Legislations are necessary to ensure compliance, failure of which will attract a penalty with spot checks by the Government body entrusted with its implementation.

Citizens can play a vital role in improving waste management scenario in Qatar by helping to reduce garbage generation and practicing source-segregation in households, offices etc. Being an influential Muslim country, the government may also take help of leading Islamic scholars to motivate the population to reduce per capita waste generation and conserve natural resources.

Improvement in curbside collection mechanism and establishment of material recovery facilities and recycling centres may also encourage public participation in waste management initiatives. When the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 was conceived, the solid waste management facility plant at Mesaieed was a laudable solution, but its capacity has been overwhelmed by the time the project was completed. Qatar needs a handful of such centers to tackle the burgeoning garbage disposal problem.

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My Little Paper Recycling Project

Paper industry is considered as one of the world’s largest consumers of fossil fuels and biggest industrial polluter. The industry is criticized by environmental groups for being responsible for massive deforestation around the world. With the use of modern technology such as the printing press and the highly mechanised harvesting of wood, paper has become a cheap commodity. This has led to a high level of consumption and waste. Worldwide consumption of paper has risen by 400% in the past 40 years, with 35% of harvested trees being used for paper manufacture. 

Paper wastes constitute as much as one-fourth of the solid wastes stream in the Middle East. Infact the percentage of paper wastes in municipal solid waste is around 28 percent in GCC countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman. These grim statistics are a major wake-up call for all concerned stakeholders to cut down on paper consumption and adopt paper recycling in a big way. High paper consumption and waste generation rate in the Middle East makes it imperative on regional countries to embrace the sustainable waste management strategy involving Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

Why Recycling?

Material recycling process is one of the best ways to protect the environment.  Waste management can be initiated in private households and organizations by minimizing the consumption of electricity, water, food, paper etc. Recycling is processing used materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Use of 3Rs of waste management can also reduce dependence on landfills, protect environment, conserve natural resources and also generate revenues.

Manufacture of Pencils from Paper Wastes

I started this project last year in my college to encourage and motivate students to recycle papers. Like other educational institutions, paper consumption is very high in our college and I devised a simple cost-effective method to transform old papers and magazines into a high-quality quality pencil which can be used at school or at work. The following materials are required to start your paper recycling project.

  • White Glue
  • Lead from any stationary store
  • Old newspapers
  • Pencil for drawing lines
  • Ruler
  • Scissor

Step 1

Use 4 to 5 pages of the newspaper and measure the right size for the lead which is about 18 cm length x 10cm width. You can also draw with the pencil to make sure it fits the right size of the lead.

Step 2

Cut the newspaper following the lines you have drawn and it will look like a rectangle shape.

Step 3

Apply glue at the edge of the rectangle shaped-paper and place the lead to start the rolling process.

Step 4

Carefully roll the paper with lead inside by using glue at fixed intervals.

Step 5

After finishing the rolling process, let it dry for few minutes. Re-start the rolling process with another piece of newspaper until the pencil is of the same size as a regular wood pencil.  Finally, your pencil, which will be same as a normal wooden pencil, is ready for use.

What Can You Do?

Be an active part of your local environmental community by participating and organizing paper recycling campaigns at your school, college or organizations. This also works when you are at home by sending reminders and emails through social networks and building global communities by sharing recycling ideas and activities that people can adapt while they are moving on their daily activities.

Please propagate this environmental message among your friends and co-workers. These 5 simple steps have the potential to make a big impact on the environment. Don’t forget that recycling a ton of paper saves 17 trees and 3.3 cubic yards in landfill space!

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A Primer on Landfill Gas Recovery

Landfill gas (or LFG) is generated during the natural process of bacterial decomposition of organic material contained in municipal solid waste landfills or garbage dumps. The waste is covered and compressed mechanically as well as by the weight of the material that is deposited above. This material prevents oxygen from accessing the waste thus producing ideal conditions for anaerobic microorganism to flourish. This gas builds up and is slowly released into the atmosphere if the landfill site has not been engineered to capture the gas.

The rate of production is affected by waste composition and landfill geometry, which in turn influence the bacterial populations within it, chemical make-up, thermal range of physical conditions and biological ecosystems co-existing simultaneously within most sites. This heterogeneity, together with the frequently unclear nature of the contents, makes landfill gas production more difficult to predict and control.

Composition of Landfill Gas

Landfill gas is approximately forty to sixty percent methane, with the remainder being mostly carbon dioxide. Landfill gas also contains varying amounts of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapour, hydrogen sulphide, and other contaminants. Most of these other contaminants are known as “non-methane organic compounds” or NMOCs. Some inorganic contaminants (for example mercury) are also known to be present in landfill gas. There are sometimes also contaminants (for example tritium) found in landfill gas. The non-methane organic compounds usually make up less than one percent of landfill gas.

Hazards of Landfill Gas

This gas starts creating pressure within the surface of earth when no exit route is present. Excessive pressure leads to sudden explosion that can cause serious harm to people living in the surrounding areas. Due to the constant production of landfill gas, the increase in pressure within the landfill (together with differential diffusion) causes the gas’s release into the atmosphere. Such emissions lead to important environmental, hygiene and security problems in the landfill.

Accidents due to landfill gas explosions are not uncommon around the world. For example a mishap took place at Loscoe, England in 1986, where migrating landfill gas, which was allowed to build up, partially destroyed the property. Landfills in the Middle East are notorious for spontaneous fires and toxic emissions. Due to the risk presented by landfill gas there is a clear need to monitor gas produced by landfills. In addition to the risk of fire and explosion, gas migration in the subsurface can result in contact of landfill gas with groundwater. This, in turn, can result in contamination of groundwater by organic compounds present in nearly all landfill gas.

Treatment of Landfill Gas

Depending on the end use, landfill gas must be treated to remove impurities, condensate, and particulates. Minimal treatment is needed for the direct use of gas in boiler, furnaces, or kilns. Using the gas in electricity generation typically requires more in-depth treatment. Primary processing systems remove moisture and particulates. Gas cooling and compression are common in primary processing. Secondary treatment systems employ multiple cleanup processes, physical and chemical, depending on the specifications of the end use.

Uses of Landfill Gas

Landfill gas can be converted to high calorific value gas by reducing its carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen content which can be piped into existing natural gas pipelines or in the form of CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (liquid natural gas). CNG and LNG can be used on site to power hauling trucks or equipment or sold commercially. The gas can also be used for combined heat and power generation or industrial heating purposes. For example, the City of Sioux Falls in South Dakota installed a landfill gas collection system which collects, cools, dries, and compresses the gas into an 11-mile pipeline. The gas is then used to power an ethanol plant operated.

Landfill Gas Recovery Projects in Middle East

The number of landfill gas projects, which convert the methane gas that is emitted from decomposing garbage into power, has seen significant increase around the world, including the Middle East. These projects are popular because they control energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Landfill gas recovery projects collect and treat the methane gas, so it can be used for electricity or upgraded to pipeline-grade quality to power homes, buildings, and vehicles.

Dubai Municipality has commissioned the region's largest landfill gas recovery system at its Al Qusais Landfill site. The Al Qusais Landfill is one of the largest sites for municipal waste collection in Dubai receiving about 5,000 tons daily. Construction work for the landfill gas project involved drilling of horizontal and vertical gas wells 22 metres deep into the waste to extract the landfill gas.

The Government of Jordan, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF and the Danish Government, established 1MW landfill gas recovery cum biogas plant at Rusaifeh landfill near Amman in 1999.  The project consists of a system of twelve landfill gas wells and an anaerobic digestion plant based on 60 tons per day of organic wastes from hotels, restaurants and slaughterhouses in Amman. 

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An Interview with Paper Bag Boy of Abu Dhabi

Abdul Muqeet, also known as the Paper Bag Boy, has risen from being just another ordinary boy to an extraordinary environmentalist spearheading the fight against climate change in United Arab Emirates. Ten-year old Abdul Muqeet has demonstrated remarkable commitment to saving the environment and has won numerous awards including the prestigious Abu Dhabi Award. Here the Paper Bag Boy (PBB) talks to Salman Zafar, Founder of EcoMENA, about various aspects of waste management scenario in UAE:

SZ: You are considered as the ‘recycling face’ of Abu Dhabi because of your wonderful achievements. Can you give an idea of the prevalent waste management scenario in Abu Dhabi?

PBB: As far as waste management is concerned, winds of change are sweeping across Abu Dhabi. Centre for Waste Management is making commendable efforts in improving waste collection and disposal situation in Abu Dhabi. Separate collection bins for plastic, paper and general waste can now be seen at strategic locations. An underground pneumatic waste collection system is also being designed for Abu Dhabi which would help a lot in dealing with the problem of urban wastes.

SZ: What are the major factors responsible for tremendous increase in waste generation in GCC countries?

PBB: High standards of living, increasing population and consumerism are the major factors responsible for increase in waste generation across the Middle East region. Fortunately, people are doing their best to do away with this problem and everybody is working together for a better environment.

SZ: GCC countries have the highest per capita waste generation in the world. What basic measures can be taken to reduce solid waste generation in the region?

PBB: Source-segregation and mass awareness can be instrumental in reducing waste generation in GCC. Segregated bins is already helping in waste management and educating people to buy less quantity of things and recycling would help as well.

SZ: What is attitude of common people towards waste recycling in the Emirates?

PBB: A major problem is that people are usually unaware about harmful effects of garbage and benefits of waste recycling.  The government, NGOs, environmentalist etc are making constant efforts to educate the masses, and I must say that things are beginning are look up.

SZ: Keeping in view your first-hand experience in waste management projects, what future do you foresee for recycling projects in the region? Is the government providing enough support in solving the waste management problem?

PBB: The government has been very supportive, to say the least. It is formulating effective laws, providing funding, organizing community initiatives and motivating the general public to solve the waste management problem.

 

 

SZ: What is the awareness and interest-level of masses towards waste recycling?

PBB: Slowly but steadily, people are becoming increasingly aware about the harmful effects of urban wastes and importance of waste recycling. Many schools are taking measures for educating children on how to implement recycling in day-to-day life.  Shopping malls and other commercial establishments are also taking measures to minimize waste generation..

SZ: What is your idea of ‘clean and green world’?

PBB: Making changes to our daily lives to decrease waste generation, reduce global warming and minimizing the use of chemicals that deplete the protective ozone layer. We all must do our share to take care of our planet and not overusing the resources that we all share.

SZ: You are a true inspiration for millions of youngsters all over the world. What message/advice you would like to give to students and entrepreneurs?

PBB: I would like to tell them to plant more trees, recycle papers and plastic, because you need to remember that everything on earth can be recycled but not time, so take your action fast and do your part in saving the environment. If you want to make a difference, the best way to start is to follow three principles of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

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Role of Reverse Logistics in Waste Management

Reverse logistics is a process whereby companies can become more environmentally efficient through recycling, reusing, and reducing the amount of materials used. A more holistic view of reverse logistics includes reduction of materials in the forward system in such a way that fewer materials flow back, reuse of materials is possible, and recycling is facilitated.

The measures aimed at reducing waste begin in the product design phase and incorporate the entire product life cycle, including transportation and final disposal. This will allow minimizing the waste downstream and allowing the product to go backward in the chain for possible remanufacturer, reuse, recycling, or resell for secondary market.

Reverse logistics differs from waste management in that it focuses on the addition of value to a product to be recovered. On the other hand, waste management involves mainly the collection and treatment of the waste products that have got no new use. A reverse supply chain is the network of activities involved in the reuse, recycling, and final disposal of products and their associated components and materials. The public is only concerned with the aftermath environmental impacts of the products at the end-of-use life.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an important tool in reverse logistics and involves assessing alternative materials and component concepts from the start of the development process and throughout the entire product life cycle, from the retrieval of raw materials through the utilization phase to recovery.

Worldwide Scenario

Waste management legislation in Europe is strong where firms are directed to address recovery and disposal of end-of-life products in an environmentally sound manner. As far as United States is concerned, economic factors focused on resource recovery value have been the main motivating factor. On the other hand, reverse logistics in emerging economies is in early stages and depends heavily on third-party provider due to shortage of legislation, awareness, and infrastructure. Professional collection, sorting and transportation of end-of-life products are much needed in emerging markets such as Middle East.

In the developing world, reverse logistics work is characterized with low value addition due to the low reprocessing involved for example from recycled electronics, paper, automobiles, scrap, plastics and food waste. Unfortunately reverse logistics has not received the desired attention in developing countries and is generally carried out by the unorganized sector for recyclables like paper, plastics and metal.

Brazilian National Solid Waste Policy

In 2010, Brazil finalized its National Solid Waste Policy, a law that aims to decrease the total volume of waste produced nationally and increase the sustainability of solid waste management from the local level to the national level. Public, domestic, industrial, mining, forestry, transportation, construction, and health waste are all covered by this policy, and much of the responsibility for paying for or providing management of waste falls to its producers. The law outlines a variety of options for producers to work together within their sectors, with reverse logistics service providers, and with municipal and state governments to manage waste flows and to recapture, recycle, and ultimately dispose of these materials.

Manufacturers, stores, supermarkets, distributors, importers and the retail trade are obliged to implement reverse logistics systems. Under the terms of the law: “Packaging will be manufactured with materials that permit reutilization or recycling”. This is valid for the entire country and acts as a guarantee for companies that reverse logistics will be adopted more rapidly.

While the law has not yet gone into full effect, many cities in Brazil have made significant progress on waste management in recent years. Rio de Janeiro has improved its landfills and its recycling rates. Cities such as São Paulo and Curitiba have increased recycling rates and practices, and their laws helped pave the way for the national mandate.

Conclusions

A well-managed reverse logistics program can result in significant cost savings in procurement, disposal, inventory holding and transportation. This may be carried out by the original product manufacturers or by third-party reverse logistics providers. With increased industrialization and globalization, reverse logistics is bound to gain momentum in coming years in the developing countries which will not only lead to economic gains but also protect the environment.

 

About the Authors

Mohammed Alnuwairan is a PhD Candidate from Manchester Business School, Manchester (UK) and a faculty member at King Faisal University (Saudi Arabia). His main research interests are operation management, reverse logistics management, re-manufacturing and waste disposal. He has a Master's Degree in Manufacturing Management from Windsor University in Canada; and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from King Faisal University KFU in Saudi Arabia KSA. 

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA and a renowned expert in waste management, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainability. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on environment and sustainability sector in the Middle East and is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on clean energy, environment and sustainability through his websites, blogs, articles and projects.

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إدارة النفايات الصلبة في المملكة العربية السعودية

تشهد المملكة العربية السعودية طفرة صناعية وزيادة في النمو السكاني وزيادة في عدد المدن الجديدة، مما أدى الي زيادة في معدلات التلوث والنفايات. أصبحت إدارة النفايات الصلبة تشكل تحدياً كبيراً يومياً للحكومة. مع تعداد سكاني يقارب الـ 29 مليون نسمة، تنتج السعودية أكثر من 15 مليون طن نفايات صلبة سنوياً. والمعدل التقديري لنصيب الفرد يومياً في انتاج النفايات 1.5 – 1.8 كج.

معدل النفايات الصلبة للمدن الثلاث الكبرى – الرياض، جدة، الدمام – تزيد على 6 مليون طن في السنة، مما يعطي تصوراً عن حجم المشكلة التي تواجهها. أكثر من 75% من السكان يسكنون المناطق الحضريه، مما يوجب على الحكومة ان تستحدث معايير لتحسين إعادة التدوير والتعامل مع النفايات الصلبة في المملكة.

في المملكة العربية السعودية، النفايات البلدية يتم تجميعها من الأفراد أو الحاويات العامة ويتم التخلص منها في مكبات النفايات أو المدافن. يمتاز نظام التخلص من النفايات في السعودية بعدم وجود مصاريف أو رسوم للتخلص من النفايات. ولكن لا تزال اعادة التدوير واعادة الاستعمال واستخراج الطاقة في بداية الطريق، ولكنها تلقى اهتماما متزايداً. عمليات الفرز للنفايات واعادة التدوير تقوم بها جهات غير رسمية نشطة. تتراوح نسبة النفايات التي يعاد تدويرها حوالي 10 – 15 %، معظمها نظرا لوجود الجهات غير الرسمية والتي تقوم بفرز الورق والمعادن والمواد البلاستيكية من النفايات البلدية

ان معظم نشاطات التدوير تكون يدوية وعن طريق عمالة كثيفة. انتاج السماد ايضاً يحظى باهتمام متزايد في المملكة نتيجة وجود نسبة كبيرة للمواد العضوية في المخلفات البلدية الصلبة (حوالي 40%). و حاليا تتجه الجهود نحو نشر تكنولوجيا تحويل المخلفات لطاقة في المملكة. وكل الجهود المتعلقة بادارة النفايات يتم تنسيقها وتمويلها عن طريق الحكومة.

الحكومة السعودية على وعي بالحاجه الملحة لحلول لاعادة التدوير، وتستثمر بقوة في هذا المجال. خصصت ميزانية عام 2011 مبلغ 29 مليار ريال سعودي لقطاع الخدمات البلدية، والتي تشمل صرف المياة والتخلص من النفايات. تقوم الحكومة السعودية بجهود مكثفة لتحسين اعادة التدوير وأنشطة التخلص من النفايات.

 

ترجمة: طه واكد – مهندس مدني مهتم بشؤون البيئة – مصر

شريك مؤسس في مشروع دقيقة خضراء  –  معد وكاتب حلقات دقيقة خضراء عاليوتيوب

للتواصل عبر taha.waked@gmail.com   أو admin@green-min.com

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Renewable Energy in Algeria

Algeria plays a key role in world energy markets as a leading producer and exporter of natural gas and liquefied natural gas. Algeria’s energy mix in 2010 was almost exclusively based on fossil fuels, especially natural gas (93%). However the country has enormous renewable energy potential, mainly solar, which the government is trying to harness by launching an ambitious Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program.

The Program consists of generating 22,000 MW of power from renewable sources between 2011 and 2030, of which 12,000 MW will be meant for domestic consumption and the rest for export. The Program is focused on developing and expanding the use of renewable resources, such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydropower, in order to diversify energy sources and promote sustainable development of the country.

Around 60 solar photovoltaic plants, concentrating solar power plants, wind farms as well as hybrid power plants are to be constructed within the next ten years. Algeria has also joined the Desertec Industrial Initiative, which aims to use Sahara solar and wind power to supply 15 per cent of Europe's electricity needs by 2050. 

Solar Energy

On account of its geographical location, Algeria holds one of the highest solar potentials in the world which is estimated at 13.9 TWh per year. The country receives annual sunshine exposure equivalent to 2,500 KWh/m2. Daily solar energy potential varies from 4.66 kWh/m2 in the north to 7.26 kWh/m2 in the south.

Pilot projects for the construction of two solar power plants with storage of a total capacity of about 150 MW each, will be launched during the 2011-2013 period. These will be in addition to the hybrid power plant project of Hassi R’Mel with a total power capacity of 150 MW, including 25 MW in solar. Four solar thermal power plants with a total capacity of about 1,200 MW are to be constructed over the period of 2016 to 2020.

The Hassi R'Mel integrated solar combined cycle power station is one of world’s first hybrid power stations. The plant combines a 25 MW parabolic trough concentrating solar power array, covering an area of over 180,000 m2, in conjunction with a 130 MW combined cycle gas turbine plant, so cutting carbon emissions compared to a traditional power station. The gas turbine and steam cycle are fired by natural gas, with the steam turbine receiving additional solar-generated steam during the day. The plant began electricity production in June 2011.

Wind Energy

Algeria has promising wind energy potential of about 35 TWh/year. Almost half of the country experience significant wind speed. The country’s first wind farm is being built at Adrar with installed capacity of 10MW with substantial funding from state-utlity Sonelgaz. Two more wind farms, each of 20 MW, are to be developed during 2014- 2013. Studies will be led to detect suitable sites to realize the other projects  during the period 2016-2030 for a power of  about 1700 MW.

Biomass Energy

Algeria has good biomass energy potential in the form of solid wastes, crop wastes and forestry residues. Solid waste is the best source of biomass potential in the country. According to the National Cadastre for Generation of Solid Waste in Algeria, annual generation of municipal wastes is more than 10 million tons. Solid wastes are usually disposed in open dumps or burnt wantonly.

Conclusions

Despite being a hydrocarbon-rich nation, Algeria is making concerted efforts to harness its renewable energy potential. Algeria’s renewable energy program is one of the most progressive in the MENA region and the government is making all-out efforts to secure investments and reliable technology partners for ongoing and upcoming projects. It is expected that the country will emerge as a major player in international renewable energy arena in the coming years.

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Waste Management in Morocco

Solid waste management is one of the major environmental problems threatening the Mediterranean Kingdom of Morocco. More than 5 million tons of solid waste is generated across the country with annual waste generation growth rate touching 3 percent. The proper disposal of municipal solid waste in Morocco is exemplified by major deficiencies such as lack of proper infrastructure and suitable funding in areas outside of major cities. 

According to the World Bank, it was reported that before a recent reform in 2008 “only 70 percent of urban MSW was collected and less than 10 percent of collected waste was being disposed of in an environmentally and socially acceptable manner. There were 300 uncontrolled dumpsites, and about 3,500 waste-pickers, of which 10 percent were children, were living on and around these open dumpsites.”  

The Menace of Trash Burning

It is not uncommon to see trash burning as a means of solid waste disposal in Morocco.  Currently, the municipal waste stream is disposed of in a reckless and unsustainable manner which has major effects on public health and the environment.  The lack of waste management infrastructure leads to burning of trash as a form of inexpensive waste disposal.  Unfortunately, the major health effects of burning trash are either widely unknown or grossly under-estimated to the vast majority of the population in Morocco.

Burning of trash is a particular health concern because of the substantial amount of dioxins it produces.  A dioxin is a highly toxic environmental pollutant that is released when household waste is burned.  Most of the dioxins that are released into the air during the burning process end up on the leaves of green vegetation.   These plants are then eaten by dairy animals such as cows,sheep and goats which results in the dioxins being stored and accumulating in the animal’s fatty tissues.  Once this occurs, dioxins are difficult to avoid and people are exposed to them primarily by eating meat and other dairy products, especially those high in fat. 

Furthermore, this type of open burning also causes particle pollution.  Particle pollution refers to microscopic particles that end up in the lungs and cause enormous amounts of human health problems, such as asthma and bronchitis.  Unfortunately, children and the elderly who are exposed to dioxins are among the highest at risk for contracting these illnesses.   Other harmful carcinogens like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) are consequences of outdoor burning.   These pollutants have been known to cause numerous amounts of health problems ranging from skin irritation to liver and kidney damage and even in some more serious cases have been linked to cancer. 

The ash itself that is produced when trash is burned often contains mercury, lead, chromium, and arsenic.  “Garden vegetables can absorb and accumulate these metals, which can make them dangerous to eat. Children playing in the yard or garden can incidentally ingest soil containing these metals. Also, rain can wash the ash into groundwater and surface water, contaminating drinking water and food.” This is not even mentioning the population of garbage-pickers who are putting their health on the line while sorting municipal wastes. 

Silver Lining

The good news about the future of Morocco’s MSW management is that the World Bank has allocated $271.3 million to the Moroccan government to develop a municipal waste management plan.  The plan’s details include restoring around 80 landfill sites, improving trash pickup services, and increasing recycling by 20%, all by the year 2020. While this reform is expected to do wonders for the urban population one can only hope the benefits of this reform trickle down to the 43% of the Moroccan population living in rural areas, like those who are living in my village.

Needless to say, even with Morocco’s movement toward a safer and more environmentally friendly MSW management system there is still an enormous population of people including children and the elderly who this reform will overlook.   Until more is done, including funding initiatives and an increase in education, these people will continue to be exposed to hazardous living conditions because of unsuitable funding, infrastructure and education.  

 

References

The World Factbook Africa: Morocco. (2013, 8/22/2013). The World Factbook.  Retrieved 11/02/2013, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mo.html

Morocco: Municipal Solid Waste Sector. (2013).   Retrieved 11/01/2013, 2013, from http://goo.gl/k91kry

Wastes – Non-Hazardous Waste – Municipal Solid Waste. (2012, 11/15/2012).   Retrieved 10/31/2013, from http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/backyard/health.htm

 

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The Menace of Landfills in Kuwait

Kuwait, being one of the richest countries, is among the highest per capita waste generators in the world. Each year more than 2 million tons of solid waste in generated in the tiny Arab nation. High standards of living and rapid economic growth has been a major factor behind very high per capita waste generation of 1.4 to 1.5 kg per day.

The prevalent solid waste disposal method in Kuwait is landfill burial. Despite being a small country, Kuwait has astonishingly high number of landfills. There are 18 landfills, of which 14 sites are closed and 4 sites are still in operation. These landfills act as dumpsites, rather than engineered landfills. Infact, landfill sites in Kuwait are notorious for causing severe public health and environmental issues.

Besides piling up huge amounts of garbage, landfill sites generate huge amount of toxic gases (methane, carbon dioxide etc) and plagued by spontaneous fires. Due to fast paced urban development, residential areas have expanded to the edges of landfill sites thus causing grave danger to public health.

Landfills in Kuwait

The total land area of Kuwait is around 17,820 sq. km, out of which more than 18 sq. km is occupied by landfills. Area of the landfill sites ranges from tens to hundreds of hectares with waste deposition depth varying from 3 to 30 meters. All kind of wastes, including municipal wastes, food wastes, industrial wastes, construction and demolition debris etc are dumped at these sites. Infact, about 90 percent of the domestic waste is sent to landfills which imply that more landfills will be required to tackle rapidly increasing volumes of solid wastes.

Most of the landfill sites have been closed for more than 20 years due to operational problems and proximity to new residential, commercial and industrial areas. These sites include Sulaibiyah, Kabed, Al‐Qurain, Shuaiba, Jleeb AI Shuyoukh, West Yarmouk, AI Wafra among others. Migration of leachate beyond landfill site boundaries is a frequent problem noticed across Kuwait. Groundwater contamination has emerged as a serious problem because groundwater occurs at shallow depths throughout the country.

The major landfill sites operated by municipality for solid waste disposal are Jleeb AI Shuyoukh, Sulaibiyah and Al-Qurain. The Qurain landfill, with area of 1 sq. km, was used for dumping of municipal solid waste and construction materials from 1975 until 1985 with total volume of dumped waste being 5 million m3.

The Sulaibiyah landfill site received more than 500 tons of waste per day from 1980 to 2000 with area spanning 3 sq. km. Jleeb AI Shuyoukh, largest landfill site in Kuwait with area exceeding 6 sq. km, received 2500 tons per day of household and industrial waste between 1970 and 1993. Around 20 million m3 of wastes was dumped in this facility during its operational period.

Over the years, most of the dumpsites in Kuwait have been surrounded by residential and commercial areas due to urban development over the years. Uncontrolled dumpsites were managed by poorly-trained staff resulting in transformation of dumpsites in breeding grounds for pathogens, toxic gases and spontaneous fires.

Most of the landfill sites have been forced to close, much before achieving their capacities, because of improper disposal methods and concerns related to public health and environment. Due to fast-paced industrial development and urban expansion, some of the landfills are located on the edges of residential, as is the case of Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and Al-Qurain sites, endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

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