Solid Waste Management in Jordan

Jordan is an emerging and stable economy in the Middle East. The growing industrialization and high population growth rate has led to rapid increase in solid waste generation in the country which has, in turn, put increasing pressure in waste management infrastructure. Around 2 million tons of municipal waste is generated in Jordan each year with most of it diverted to unsanitary landfills and dumpsites. Improper solid waste disposal is leading to public health risks, adverse environmental impacts as well as socio-economic problems. 

Solid Waste Generation

The predominant fraction in Jordanian MSW is organic matter which makes up as much as 60 percent of the solid waste stream. Being a relatively modest Middle Eastern country, the per capita waste generation In Jordan is 0.9 kg per day. Municipal waste in the country has steadily increased from 1.5 million tons in 2000 to about 2 million tons in 2012 which is posing a serious challenge to municipalities in big cities like Amman and Aqaba.

Amman accounts for almost half of the total solid waste generated in Jordan. The Greater Amman Municipality has the duty to collect, transport, and dispose the waste to Al Ghabawi landfill site which is considered to be the largest landfill in Jordan serving Amman and 10 other major cities. In the coastal city of Aqaba, a private company collects and transports the waste to the landfill operated by common services council. There are 21 working landfill sites in Jordan, out of which 7 are closed landfill sites.

Apart from MSW, an annual amount of 1.83 million cubic meter of septic and sewage sludge from treatment of 44 million cubic meter of sewage water is generated in greater Amman area. The potential annual sewage sludge and septic generated in Amman alone is estimated at more than 85,000 tons of dry matter.

State of the Affairs

Currently there is no specific legal framework or national strategy for solid waste management in Jordan which is seriously hampering efforts to resolve waste management situation. Municipalities do not have enough funds to setup modern waste collection infrastructure, recycling facilities, waste disposal systems and waste to energy plants. Source-segregation is not practiced in the country and mixed waste is collected and dumped without any treatment.  Recycling, both formal and informal, is at early stages due to lack of trained manpower and modern machinery.

The role of private sector in solid waste management is also limited, except some pilot projects. In 2009, the government initiated Amman solid waste management project that aims at strengthening the operational, financial, and environmental performance of municipal solid waste management. Greater Amman Municipality is also planning to build two waste transfer stations in the northern and western areas of the city.

Rusaifeh Landfill Project

The Government of Jordan, in collaboration with UNDP, GEF and the Danish Government, established 1MW Biomethanation plant at Rusaifeh landfill near Amman in 1999.  The plant has been successfully operating since its commissioning and efforts are underway to increase its capacity to 5MW. 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. 

Al Ghabawi Landfill Project

Al Ghabawi landfill is the first of its kind in Jordan as it is designed and constructed with gas collection systems with financial assistance from the World Bank. The project operation is the first municipal carbon finance partnership in the Middle East. The electricity generated from landfill gas will be delivered to the national grid, displacing electricity produced by grid connected power plants that traditionally use heavy fuel oil. The Al Ghabawi landfill, comprising of three cells, started receiving waste in 2003. Cell 1 has reached full capacity. Cell 2 is constructed, operational and is being filled with waste. Cell 3 is planned to be constructed during 2013. Currently the site receives about 3,000 tons of waste per day but LFG recovery system is yet to be implemented. 

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About Mohammad Ziad Yamin

Mohammad Ziad Yamin is an Environmental Scientist with high interest in sustainability, renewable energy, waste management, water management and green buildings. He has been actively involved in various environmental projects, campaigns and seminars. He has developed a new sustainable irrigation system working by solar power.

6 Responses to Solid Waste Management in Jordan

  1. Mara says:

    Since 2011, Viborg Municipality (VM) has supported Greater Irbid Municipality (GIM) on waste handling under support and funding from Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

    The Danish-Arab Partnership Programme. Among others an Action Plan and a Catalogue of Ideas on Waste Handling have been made by VM specifically for GIM.

    VMs work on waste handling has been focussing on the following areas:

    – Waste separation

    – Creating ownership and dialogue with citizens (especially school children) and other stakeholders through learning and information and good governance (sustainable and reliable public initiatives)

    – Increasing public institutional cooperation on waste handling

    – Improvements in the handling of hazardous waste and management of the landfill

    Positively – partly due to VMs work with GIM since 2011 – an improved awareness of the problem exists today in the Irbid Area, and not least an essential willingness to do something about it is at the top level of decision makers in GIM as well as among a growing numbers of citizens.

    Through the cooperation with VM, GIM has increased the dialogue on waste with other central government and civil society institutions in GIM: The Governor, Business Organisations, Universities and not the least Schools through pilot projects on waste collection. The pilot projects are implemented even though public schools are not a municipal responsibility area in Jordan.

    The school projects and relations established in total are thus an important proof of the ability of transcending the municipal areas of responsibility in working on waste issues with GIM and evidence to the fact that a strong, durable partnership between VM/Denmark and GIM/Irbid Governorate has been established.

    Rosary School- as an example of one of the schools taking part in the pilot projects.

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  3. Mohammad Ayasrah says:

    in Aqaba The city, popular for its clear waters and coral reefs, discards 150 tonnes of solid waste per day, including that of restaurants and hotels
    150tonnes X 365 day = 54 tonnes per year
    you have mentioned the total MSW is 1 tonnes per year in 1012/
    which figure you may consider

    • Salman Zafar says:

      Thanks for your comment.
      As mentioned in our article, the total MSW generation in Jordan was around 2 million tons in 2012.
      Please note that 150tonnes x 365 = 54750 tons and not 54 tons

  4. M K Younes says:


    please refresh your data, it is obsolete
    in 2020 the country issued the solid waste framework law, and now there are tens of regulations, policies and projects
    please dont mislead the reader with your old opinion

  5. Aline says:

    I live abroad and have been spending more time in Jordan, I am devastated with the state of waste management in this country. The environment that people live in will affect their productivity, physical and emotional health as well as the building of a positive community. Everywhere you look in Jordan especially once you leave the capital, is filled with trash. I see children, adults, police officers, family picnicking just casually throw trash in the ground, there is no sense of preserving the space they are enjoying no sense of belonging really because they wouldn’t do this in their own house. The fact that there is no waste management strategy in Jordan, enough trash bins, messaging yo remind people yo keep the country clean, consequences if they throw trash, is very shortsighted and ho early very sad to see.

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