Technology can transform waste into an opportunity (Photo: Reuters)
In a move to make the most of its solid waste and prevent environmental pollution, a waste-recycling plant was recently inaugurated in the Minya governorate.
At a cost of LE32 million, the Al-Edwa Waste-Recycling Plant will process 300 tons of garbage daily covering 23 per cent of the Minya governorate’s waste.
The plant was renovated within the framework of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project through an Egyptian-Italian debt swap agreement of 2010.
In 2012, Italy and Egypt signed the third phase of the Italian-Egyptian Debt for Development Swap (IEDS) Programme. Under the agreement, Italy will cancel Egyptian debt and invest it in development projects.
The main outputs of the Minya plant will include high-quality compost for agriculture through the biological treatment of organic waste, refuse-derived fuel (RDF), and recyclables from the treatment of the dry fraction of the waste.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) generation represents a serious environmental problem, Mahmoud Al-Ghitani, founder of Bio Energy, the company awarded a 10-year concession at the plant, said during the inauguration. However, through appropriate technology waste can be transformed from an environmental threat into an opportunity, he said.
Egypt generated approximately 21 million tons of MSW in 2012. With an annual increase of 3.4 per cent, this amount is forecast to reach 35 million tons in 2025, according to the National Solid Waste Management Programme.
This huge waste accumulation is coupled with low rates of collection at only around 60 per cent of the MSW generated across the country, according to a 2016 International Finance Corporation (IFC) study.
RDF, one of the products of the plant, is of particular importance because it will help provide a source of fuel to cement factories in the area. Worldwide, fuel represents more than 40 per cent of total cement-production costs, according to the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
According to Governor of Minya Qassem Hussein, the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation has been contracted to supply 60 three-wheeled motorbikes to collect household rubbish from the neighbourhoods of Minya city.
The governorate has also obtained 15 machines from the Ministry of Environment to help collect and process agricultural waste.
The third phase of the Italian-Egyptian Debt Swap Programme is currently ongoing and is expected to conclude in 2023.
Ongoing initiatives include the construction of silos for storing wheat in four governorates, as well as projects aiming at improving technical education.
Micro-credit loans and boosting income-generating activities among young people and women are also part of the initiative.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 13 December, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Finding ways of using waste