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.


Sewage trucks being emptied at the Buraiman Lake

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 wastewater 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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About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com

8 Responses to Waste Management in Jeddah

  1. Jordi says:

    This is an example of how a problem like MSW must have a global approach. 
    It is important to give a solution to all kind of generated waste and only use landfills for a very small % of the MSW.
    Another great &  detailed article!

    • Salman Zafar says:

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. Urgent steps are needed to solve waste management problems in Jeddah.

  2. mohammed ghouse shaik says:

    Mr salman zafar  how r u
    sir  iam also liveing in jeddah we have small weste managment for city wast lastic recycling 
    i have plan start mani  think  i want to meet you
    i evry time i red your comment   
    thanks  0567781327 

  3. Nino says:

    A sound environmental concern is a continuous challenge, in The Third World, waste is now a potential means of livelihood, because recycling turns into cash!

  4. ran says:

    I appreciate your efforts. However, I have noticed that all the date for this article and all the comment were wrote during 2012 and 2013. This means that this article has been written after the problem of Buraiman Lake had been solved and that happened in 2010.
    Here is a link for an article in a newspaper that report this information
    thank you

  5. Alaa says:

    Dear Salman,

    Thank you for the valuable information. I am doing my dissertation in waste management in Jeddah and Portsmouth. The article was very beneficial, and i was wondering if you can give me some resources for more data, and perhaps an interview with you if you have the time or at least some organisations where i can go and make some interviews to help me completing my project.


  6. Abdul Nasir Adnan says:

    This will continuously be a problem if the waste are regarded as ‘waste’. To make matters worse, both solid and sewerage are not treated. However if we can do a mind set change and off course with “political will” and good strong environmental awareness policies and implementation programme, Insyaallah, Jeddah can achieve to be a sustainable city of the future. Am glad to assist.

  7. Pingback: Recycling Prospects in Saudi Arabia | EcoMENA

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