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Integrated Solid Waste Management in Arab Region

Authors:

Abstract

The Management dilemma of Solid Wastes (SW) has been recognized and tackled seriously worldwide. However, in developing countries the problem is still hindered by social and economic predicaments and priorities. In our region, the generation of solid wastes has become an increasingly important environmental issue over the last decade, due to the escalating growth in populations and the changing life style, leading to new trends of unsustainable consumption patterns concomitant with inflation in wastes production. Such increases in solid wastes generation concurrent with shifting characteristics pose numerous questions concerning the adequacy of conventional wastes management systems, and their associated environmental, economic and societal implications. The majority of the Arab Countries are still striving towards establishing suitable and practical mechanisms for addressing the MSW issue at local and national levels. The root of the problem and the variability in its magnitude and implications rely solely on the specificity of inherent local conditions and the availability of financial and technological capabilities of the local governorates, townships and municipalities. Most national Arab legislations and strategies are instituted in accordance with the universally common integrated MSW Management, i.e., based on the “cradle-to-grave” principles. Nonetheless, as sound as the approach is theoretically, it is still impeded by the lack of reliable databases on MSW generation and classification, shortage in infrastructures suitable for comprehensive waste management considering its variable characteristics), as well as deficit in trained personnel to undertake the various aspects of the problem systematically and holistically. Many cities and municipalities in the region are still faced with serious challenges emanating from the vast expansion in urban developments, the increasingly unsustainable life style and consumption patterns, and the absence of fee and/ or tax-based administrative structures and fiscal resources. This paper will identify and assess the current status and conventional practices concerning MSW management in the Arab region. Also, it will draw comparison, conclusions and recommendations in this regard. It will point out workable solutions, ensuring proper management and sound technologies of MSW based upon the prevailing conditions and needs, by satisfying the three pertinent pillars of sustainable.
Integrated Solid Waste Management in the Arab Countries
Farag.A.El-Mabrouk, Ph.D
Faculty of Engineering- Benghazi University
Benghazi – Libya
farajelmabrouk@yahoo.co.uk
ABSTRACT:
The Management dilemma of Solid Wastes (SW) has been recognized and tackled
seriously worldwide. However, in developing countries the problem is still hindered
by social and economic predicaments and priorities. In our region, the generation of
solid wastes has become an increasingly important environmental issue over the last
decade, due to the escalating growth in populations and the changing life style,
leading to new trends of unsustainable consumption patterns concomitant with
inflation in wastes production. Such increases in solid wastes generation concurrent
with shifting characteristics pose numerous questions concerning the adequacy of
conventional wastes management systems, and their associated environmental,
economic and societal implications.
The majority of the Arab Countries are still striving towards establishing suitable and
practical mechanisms for addressing the MSW issue at local and national levels. The
root of the problem and the variability in its magnitude and implications rely solely on
the specificity of inherent local conditions and the availability of financial and
technological capabilities of the local governorates, townships and municipalities.
Most national Arab legislations and strategies are instituted in accordance with the
universally common integrated MSW Management, i.e., based on the “cradle-to-
grave” principles. Nonetheless, as sound as the approach is theoretically, it is still
impeded by the lack of reliable databases on MSW generation and classification,
shortage in infrastructures suitable for comprehensive waste management considering
its variable characteristics), as well as deficit in trained personnel to undertake the
various aspects of the problem systematically and holistically. Many cities and
municipalities in the region are still faced with serious challenges emanating from the
vast expansion in urban developments, the increasingly unsustainable life style and
consumption patterns, and the absence of fee and/ or tax-based administrative
structures and fiscal resources.
This paper will identify and assess the current status and conventional practices
concerning MSW management in the Arab region. Also, it will draw comparison,
conclusions and recommendations in this regard.
It will point out workable solutions, ensuring proper management and sound
technologies of MSW based upon the prevailing conditions and needs, by satisfying
the three pertinent pillars of sustainable.
Keywords: municipal solid waste; integrated management; Arab region; pollution;
landfilling; local government.
1
Municipal Solid Waste in the Arab Countries:
Population increase, economic progress, expansion in urban areas, rapid industrial
development, and rising standard of living have all contribution to a sharp rise in solid
waste generation in most Arab countries.
It is estimated that the municipal solid waste generation rates in Arab Gulf states have
increased from 4.5 million tons per year in 1970 to a staggering 25 million tons in
1995 (1). The annual rate of municipal solid waste increase is about 3.3 percent, which
is on average equivalent to that of population increase. These figures, however, can be
underestimated indeed, since there are no reliable statistics on actual amount of waste
produced in many countries of the region. A quick prediction of the amounts of
municipal solid wastes generated in the Arab Region in the Year 2020 shows that this
figure can simply exceed 200 million tons per year. Some statistics on municipal solid
waste in the Arab Region and other countries are provided in Tables 1 through 5,
respectively (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) . It is of importance to indicate the obvious correlation between
the per capita income and the rate of solid waste generated, i.e., higher GPD causes
higher waste generation.
From the tables below, one can notice that 80 percent of the total municipal solid
wastes in the Arab Region are decomposable and recyclable, and the remaining is
inert matter. On average in the region, approximately 50 to 60% of municipal solid
wastes are organic, and about 10% paper, 7% plastic, 4% glass, 4% metals, and 4%
textiles. In many countries up to 50 percent of the waste generated may be left
uncollected. Primitive methods of disposal are still practiced in the region, including
open dumping and burning in open air, as well as mixing of municipal with medical
and industrial wastes when disposed off. Often hazardous wastes may intermingle
with municipal wastes during with handling and disposal.
Problems related to old landfill site contamination residential areas intrusions, and
sequential remediation and rehabilitation efforts are rising in several countries.
Table 1- Solid Wastes Generation in Some Arab Countries (1, 2, 6)
Country Municipal Waste
Kg/Capita/day
Country Municipal Waste
Kg/Capita/day
Bahrain 1.60 Qatar 1.30
Egypt 1.20 Saudi Arabia 1.30
Jordan 0.90 Syria 0.50
Libya 0.95 Lebanon 1.1
Kuwait 1.80 Tunis 0.60
Oman 0.70 UAE 1.20
Morocco 0.33 Yemen 0.45
2
Table 3: Solid Wastes Generation and Composition in the Arab
Region (1, 3, 4)
Country Kg/capita
/Year
Organic
Matter %
Paper
%
Plastic
%
Glass
%
Metals
%
Bahrain 584 59.1 12.8 7.4 3.4 2.1
Iraq 285 63 1 1 1.6 1.1
Jordan 330 63 11 16.8 2.1 2.1
Kuwait 660 51 19 13 4.5 5
Lebanon 220 59 18 8 8 2.4
Libya 346 54 12.1 7.8 3.9 6.9
Oman 256 60 8 12 10 9
Qatar 475 57 18 12 3 5
Syria 185 62 4 7 4 6
UAE(Dubai)
Abu Dhabi
750
542
42
49
6
6
10
12
3
9
3
6
Yemen 165 55 14 13 1.5 2
Table 5 - Solid Wastes Generation and Composition in Some Arab
Cities (5, 7)
Category
Location
Food
Waste
%
Plastic
%
Metals
%
Glass
%
Wood
%
Textile,
Rubber
leather
Paper
&
Boards
%
Yard
trimmings
Others
%
Aden 57.1 10.8 5 2.7 N 5.6 10.7 N 8.1
Aleppo 59.4 11.5 0.8 7.6 0.5 3.7 13.1 N 3.4
Amman 59.5 13.2 2.4 2.8 N 4.7 14 N 8.4
Bahrain 59.5 7.44 2.05 3.39 N 6.92 12.8 N 8.4
Cairo 67 3.4 2.2 2.5 N 0.5 18 N 6.4
Kuwait 50 12.6 2.6 3.3 4.8 4.8 20.6 N 1.3
Riyadh 34 2 16 3 10 2 31 N 2
Tripoli 54.1 7.8 6.9 3.9 1.6 3.5 12.1 N 10.1
Tunis 68 11 4 †N N 2 10 N 5
N. Not available
The integrated waste management strategy (i.e., from cradle-to-grave) with its
universal hierarchy has been introduced recently in several countries as well. Modern
collection, treatment and disposal systems have started to be employed in the region,
such as vehicle collection and sorting, composting, incineration of medical wastes,
and sanitary landfilling.
Recycling, reuse and recovery are still at infancy stages, nonetheless are gaining
popularity (See Table 5 on Integrated Waste Management Hierarchy). Due to poverty,
scavenging still exists in some areas, providing recycling and unintended
environmental benefits among economic earnings.
In the Arabian Gulf sub-region, waste collection and disposal are highly efficient,
and, sanitary landfills are widely used. The high content of organic matters in
3
municipal waste triggered the interest in composting, thus several composting plants
have been established and are already in operation producing compost -fertilizing
materials and soil conditioners.
The municipality manages for instance in Doha-Qatar, a large composting
plant since the eighties. Some fractions of the waste, e.g., aluminum, paper, glass and
plastics are collected and recycled in small recycling plants scattered in the region,
that are mainly operated by the private sector.
INTEGRATED WASTE MANAGEMENT HERARCHY:
Integrated solid waste management (ISWM) is a concept that goes beyond the mere
safe disposal of wastes. It is the plans and mechanisms of tackling solid wastes in
such a way, which lead to the protection of public health and the environment,
conserves natural sources and contributes to the overall sustainable development.
ISWM addresses the root cause of wastes problem by emphasizing the notion of
"Cradle to Grave" responsibility. The main pillars of this strategy are:
1. Pollution Prevention – including waste minimization at the source in terms
of pollution quantities and/or risk;
2. Resource Conservation- including environmentally sound reuse, recycling
and recovery (e.g., composting or energy recovery);
3. Sound Treatment- including rendering wastes harmless and/or achieving
safer end products; and
4. Safe Ultimate Disposal- including both incinerations and/or landfilling.
The strategy of ISWM management implies an implementation hierarchy in
methodology, by ranking operations in accordance to their priority or favorability as
shown in Table (6).
Table 6- Integrated Solids Waste Management (ISWM) Hierarchy
Waste minimization (e.g., Cleaner Production, Sustainable Consumption, and
Prevention), including Reduction in toxicity, risk or adverse impacts of
products & waste;
Reuse wastes in their current forms;
Recycling wastes after processing;
Material/Energy Recovery (e.g., Composting, Refuse to Energy Combustion;
Treatment and Reduction in the waste volume/quantity/hazard prior to
disposal (e.g., Compaction, Physical/Chemical/Biological/Thermal
Treatments)
Waste Disposal in an environmentally sound manners ( Controlled
Incineration, Engineered Landfills)
The global practices of integrated solid waste management (ISWM) vary from
region to region, country to country, and from one municipality to another, depending
upon the prevailing specific conditions (natural, social, economic…etc.). Table 7
provides an overview of some wastes management practices in several industrialized
countries (3, 5, 8). Landfilling is overwhelmingly the most Common waste management
practice, because of its practicality, simplicity, effectiveness and economic
4
favorability. However, there is an undeniable trend towards increasing reuse/recycling
of wastes components around the world. For instance in the USA, recycling activities
increased from mere 6% of total municipal solid wastes generated in the 1960s to
about 30% in the Year 2000. On the other hand, combustion has declined from 30%
to less than 15% during the same period.
Table 7 - Solid Wastes Management Practices in Some Industrialized
Countries (Amended) (3)
Country Kg/capita/da
y
Landfilling
%
Incineratio
n
%
Composting
%
Recycling
%
Canada 1.65 80 6 4 10
Germany 0.95 45 35 4 16
Italy 1.1 75 13 7 5
Japan 1.26 15 60 5 20
Spain 0.95 65 5 17 13
Switzerland 1.2 10 58 10 22
UK 1.15 85 8 2 5
USA 1.98 65 10 2 23
As in other developing countries, there are numerous difficulties facing Arab member
states in their endeavors to develop and implement ISWM. These may be summarized
as economical, technical, institutional, Social and attitudinal. The situation is perhaps
more satisfactory in the GCC countries due to economic affluence. Based on a field
survey study conducted in several Arab cities (5, 7), the current management practices
Pertinent to municipal solid wastes are given in Table 8. Note that Landfilling is the
predominant approach to MSWM in the Arab Region. Nonetheless, composting
should also be considered seriously, along with sorting and recycling, due to the high
portions of organic degradable fractions and recyclables materials generated from the
MSW.
Table 8 – Current SWM Practices in Some Arab Cities (6, 8)
City Landfilling Incineration Composting Recycling
City Landfilling Incineration composting Recycling
Aden Y N N P
Aleppo Y N N P
Amman Y P N P
Bahrain Y P N P
Cairo Y P P P
Kuwait Y P P P
Riyadh Y P P P
Tunis Y N P P
*Y: Practiced, N.: Not Practiced, and P: Partially Practiced
5
In summary, the difficulties encountered by these Arab Cities are outlined
in Table 9 (5, 7), as follows:
Table 9 – Major Difficulties Facing ISWM in the Arab Region (5, 7)
City
Difficulty
Aden Amman Bahrain Cairo Kuwait Riyadh Tripoli Tunis
Scarcity &
Conflict of
information
and record
Y Y N Y Y Y Y Y
Diversity of
Operating
agencies
N N N Y N N N Y
Lack &
inefficient
equipment
Y N N Y N N Y Y
Lack of
finance
Y Y N Y N N Y N
Lack of
legislation &
planning
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N
Lack of
technical staff
& Labor
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Lack of
training and
capacity
building
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Inefficient
management
processes
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Lack of public
awareness &
involvement
Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Y: Yes- the difficulty exist; N: No- the difficulty does not exist.
SOUND PRACTICES IN MSW MANAGEMENT:
Often, there are many difficult situations that face municipal managers in planning
and directing concrete MSW projects in cost-effective technically sound and
politically favorable manners. Management capability, project financing, and
economic assessment are all important when dealing with urban infrastructure issues,
including MSW. The pertinent areas that can be covered by Sound Practices (SP) of
waste management are: Sorting and Special Wastes, waste Reduction, Collection and
Transfer, Recycling, Composting, Incineration, and landfilling. In order to address
6
such complicated considerations, decision makers should ask a number of questions
designed to facilitate comparison of the available alternatives (9):
Is the proposed practice(s) technologically feasible and appropriate, given
the financial and human resources available?
Is it the most cost-effective option available?
What are the environmental benefits and costs of the practice?
Could the environmental soundness of the proposed practice be
significantly enhanced by a small increase in costs (or vice-versa)? Can it
be justified?
Is the practice administratively feasible and sensible?
Is the practice in the given social and cultural environment? And, how
would specific sectors of society be affected by the adoption of this MSW
technology or policy?
It is not necessarily easy to answer these questions, but attempting to answer them
will often shed light on particular points of relevance to make definitive
judgments. Moreover, numerous factors do influence the decision-making
processes in this regard, e.g., levels of development, natural conditions,
socioeconomic and political considerations.
For the development of a well-integrated and cost-effective MSWM system,
thorough assessment and evaluation should be conducted on how well each
potential component of the system meshes with others (existing or proposed).
This can be measured by taking into consideration the system's purpose, size,
location, ownership, operation, financing and relationship to administrative and
regulatory agencies. As such, individual components of the ISWM system should
be:
(a) Chosen so they do not overlap or compete excessively;
(b) Sized so they can handle the portion of the waste stream they are
designed for, without competing wit other components;
(c) Located so that transportation costs are minimized and appropriate
transportation networks are used;
(d) Owned, operated, and financed to minimize overall costs, while
ensuring responsible management and cooperation with other system
components;
(e) Administered by appropriate agencies, with adequate public oversight.
Development of such an integrated plan requires coordination of public and private
entities with expertise n management, sound practices, public health, environmental
protection, finance, urban infrastructure, and social issues pertinent to MSWM.
It is of importance to note that tackling such complex matters and resolving them is
much more problematic in developing countries ( as in our region). Therefore,
creativity and improvisation should be practiced to reach the most optimal solutions
under the available resources and overwhelming constraints and obstacles. For
example, landfill is an integral part and ultimate step of sound solid waste
management hierarchy; however, should conditions be unfavorable, sanitary landfills
may serve as a "stand –alone" option for municipal waste disposal.
7
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS:
Proper integrated of MSW in the Arab region is generally hampered by technical,
administrative and financial shortcoming. In order to tackle this growing problem of
solid wastes, systematic approaches on the local, national and regional levels should
be explored and implemented, based on the prevailing conditions and priorities.
The following recommendations are offered to assist in the implementation of ISWM
across the Arab Region.
Development of accurate and reliable databases on MSW generation and
composition on a local basis in Arab cities and municipalities.
Ratification and enforcement of legislations and regulations relevant to proper
MSW management and environmental protection.
Development of Master Plans for MSW management over extended period of
time, and allocation of the necessary budget and funding mechanisms.
Encoding waste minimization and recycling by generators and consumers,
and adopting incentive measures and policies in this regard.
Supporting the relevant agencies and administrations of MSW sector by
providing the needed equipment, personnel, training and other capacity
building programs.
Advocating and facilitating private sector participation and stewardship in
MSW management activities and investments.
Establishing research and development centers on national and regional levels
for experience in the field of MSW management.
Enhancement of awareness and educational programs; and encouragement of
public input and partnership in the planning and implementation efforts.
The Role of the United National Environment Programme (UNEP):
This dilemma of solid waste management in the Arab Region, although has been
effectively addressed in many states, still poses a real challenge to numerous
municipalities and local authorities. The need for workable solutions, technically,
financially and indeed politically is a priority. In its endeavor to meet this challenge,
the United National Environment Programme (UNEP) has been developing and
implementing the following programmes towards reducing health and environmental
risks in the region (4, 6):
Continue to implement awareness, training and capacity building programmes
and activities throughout the Region, propagating the concepts of pollution
prevention, sustainable consumption, life cycle assessment (LCA) and the
"Cradle-To-Cradle" approach (with emphasis on Reuse & Recycling).
Promote the notion of integrated wastes management strategy and sound
practices in the Region, through the provision of technical expertise and
assistance provided by UNEP and encourage countries to establish integrated
waste management systems and infrastructures as appropriate, focusing in
8
particular on composting and landfilling facilities (as the organic fraction of
MSW are comparably high).
Foster pilot demonstration projects in solid waste management, and develop
proposals to engage the public in wastes sorting, recycling and composting
schemes. Recycling and composting should be given priority since the Arab
Region, in general, lacks many natural resources such as water, wood and
some minerals. Therefore, recycling will conserve materials and compensate
for such deficits while crating new economic income and considerable
business and job opportunities. Moreover, solicit regional and international
supporting and funding in order to execute pilot projects of model landfill
and/or composting facilities.
Support the development of regional waste exchange program, linking waste
producers (including municipalities) with those industries (existing or new)
that would utilize specific waste stream in their production processes, in
accordance with the provision of the Basel Convention and other relevant
protocols.
Catalyze the implementation of Clean Production programme in the region
and the establishment of National Cleaner Production Centers (NCPC).
Encourage industry, local communities, and municipalities in the region to
participate in such voluntary initiatives as Environmental Management
System (EMS), and Awareness Preparedness for Emergency at Local Level
(APELL).
Advocate the establishment of regional network of experts for registration,
information dissemination and experience exchange in coordination with
other international, regional and Arab organization.
9
REFERENCES:
1. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Division of
Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) - International
Environnemental Technology Center (IETC), "International Source
Book on Environmentally Sound Technologies (ESTs) for
Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM)", ISBN
9280715038, 1996.
2. Mashaa’n, M.A., Ahmed, F.M., “Environmental Strategies for
Solid Waste Management-Future Outlook of Kuwait until 2000
and Other States Experiences”, 1st Edition, 1997.
3. World Health Organization (WHO)," Solids Waste Management in Some Countries
–Environmental Dimensions of Waste Disposal", 1995.
2. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Regional
Office for West Asia (ROWA), Kanbour, F. “General Status on
Urban Waste Management in West Asia, Regional Workshop”,
1997.
4. World Health Organization, “Solid Waste Management in Some
Countries-Environmental Dimensions of Waste Disposal”, 1995.
5. El Mabrouk .F.A" Solid waste management in Libya" Paper presented in the First
National Conference of Engineers. Misratah – Libya. 11–10/1998
6. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Regional
Office for West Asia (ROWA), Al-Yousfi, A.B.,
“Environmentally Sound Technologies (EST) for Designing and
Operating Solid Wastes Landfills”, Proceedings of International
Conference on Wastes Management and Pests Control, Muscat
Municipality-Oman, 2003.
6. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Regional
Office for West Asia (ROWA), Al-Yousfi, A.B., “Regional
Perspectives of Hazardous Waste Management in Developing
Countries”, Proceedings of Oman International Conference on
Wastes Management, 2002.
7. EL Mabrouk A.F., Hospital and Pharmaceutical Wastes and their Impact in Human
Health and Environment. Paper presented in the Symposium on the Environmental
Impacts of Chemical Wastes in Arab Countries. 19 –20 April 2004. Tripoli –
Libya.Kuwait Society for Environmental Protection, 2002.
8. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA),
“Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2000 Facts &
Figures”, 2002.
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