On 13 January, Electricity and Renewable Energy Minister Mohamed Shaker announced that from July garbage collection charges will ease to be included in monthly electricity bills.
Shaker said collection fees between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019 had reached LE566 million of which LE562 was distributed among governorates. “A total of 97 per cent was paid to garbage collection companies while the remaining three per cent went on administrative expenses,” Shaker explained.
Medhat, a 45-year-old engineer, told Al-Ahram Weekly that he had waited a long time for the change. “For years we have paid twice for garbage collection, once on the electricity bill and again to the actual dustman.”
Electricity Ministry spokesperson Ayman Hamza said everyone will benefit from the decision regardless of whether they use traditional or prepaid meters.
Garbage collection fees will in future be collected by the local municipalities. While Medhat welcomes the change, he has concerns about the cost of collection after the implementation of the new waste disposal system. “It is important to know how much we will have to pay after the process is finalised”, he says.
The decision comes as parliament’s Energy and Environment Committee prepares to discuss a new waste management bill. Under the draft law fees paid in exchange for the collection and disposal of garbage will range between LE4 and LE30 a month for residential units, LE30 to LE200 for commercial units and up to LE500 for government institutions, public bodies, public sector companies, health care facilities and private educational establishments.
In September 2019 a new waste management system was announced to be overseen by an independent waste management authority. Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi said it would significantly improve citizen’s daily lives.
The new body will be in charge of monitoring and developing all aspects related to waste management including attracting new investments.
The system will be initially implemented in five governorates — Cairo, Sharqiya, Ismailia, Port Said and Beni Sweif — chosen during a meeting held by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.
Multiple companies will handle the implementation process at an estimated cost of LE3.5 billion.
Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad said her ministry has a clear-cut plan for executing a national waste management programme in cooperation with the ministries of military production and local development and the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation. She said she was confident of the ability of military production companies to capitalise on Swiss recycling technology.
A deal has already been signed between the National Organisation for Military Production and TSG, a Swiss company, for building waste-to-energy (WtE) plants.
According to a statement by the Military Production Ministry such deals seek to transfer WtE state-of-the-art technologies to Egypt and increase the local manufacturing component, thereby adding value, reducing imports and saving foreign currency.
In October the Petroleum Ministry announced that waste rice straw would be converted into medium-density wood panels through a company, WOTECH, established in Beheira governorate at a cost of 210 million euros.
WOTEC aims to produce 205,000 cubic metres of panels a year, using 245,000 tons of rice straw as raw material. The project is a first for the Middle East and North Africa region.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 23 January, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.