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. 

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.
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