What is Solid Waste?
Solid waste, commonly known as “ trash ” is any unwanted material that is thrown away or discarded.
- Municipal waste
- Industrial waste
- Agricultural waste
Materials could be generated in homes, business offices, schools, factories, farms, and even treatment plants.
If mismanaged , solid waste can pile up in landfills posing a direct threat to human health and the environment contributing to the climate crisis that exists today.
How is solid waste managed?
There are several options for dealing with solid waste. The most common, yet least favored, is landfilling. There are five main practices for solid waste management:
What happens to trash in Jordan?
It ends up in dumpsites or landfills.
Disposal is obviously the least favored option in solid waste management. Unfortunately, it’s also the most common practice however, the easiest to change if individuals and communities dedicate themselves to changing simple daily habits.
A dumpsite is simply a big hole in the ground in which waste is dumped, and eventually covered with earth materials.
Dumpsites in Jordan don’t use any environmental protection methods, and pose a threat to our environment–meaning, the trash that accumulates ends up polluting our environment, impacting the air we breathe every day, the water we drink and use to bathe.
- Dumpsites can contaminate groundwater as they allow a liquid called leachate to seep into the ground
- They cause air pollution due to the emission of extremely dangerous gases
- Dumpsites usually have bad odors and attract insects and rodents
A landfill is a sophisticated project that uses the latest technology to protect the environment. Landfills usually have liners to collect and dispose of leachate, and also methane collection units to prevent air pollution.
Littering is throwing away trash in the wrong ways at the wrong places.
Unfortunately, littering is a widespread practice in Jordan that many don’t think twice about. Public spaces like parks, sidewalks, storefronts etc. are full of people’s paper cups, cigarette butts, Kleenex, plastic bags and other trash.
Littering has a direct effect on the quality of life of communities and families. Littered waste piles up in cities causing unpleasant sights, odors, and more seriously -sanitary issues and threats to local wildlife.
It can also build up in water pipes, causing blockages and flooding.
Who is responsible for solid waste management in Jordan?
In Jordan, many different people and organizations have a part to play in the solid waste management cycle.
The government (Ministry of Local Administration) is the key player, supported by private sector companies and other non-governmental organizations. The Jordanian public (that’s you!) also has a big role to play in proper waste disposal.
The process of solid waste management begins with us –within our homes and offices.
We all generate waste which–if disposed of in the garbage and not littered -is collected by municipalities or private companies. The waste is then transported away from the cities to its final location, which is usually a dumpsite, landfill, or in rare cases, are cycling facility.
This entire process is supported and made possible by the policies, laws and regulations issued by the Ministry of Environment and the monitoring and supervision of the Ministry of Local Administration.
How much waste is generated in Jordan?
A lot! In fact, we’re generating so much trash that it’s difficult to imagine a country that is remotely livable for future generations like our children or grandchildren.
- According to most recent statistics, Jordan generated approximately 3 million tons of waste generated per year. That is equivalent to the weight of 52 Boeing 767 airplanes per day! Or 6 Burj Khalifa’s per year!
- By 2050, the total annual waste in Jordan is predicted to rise to 6 million tonnes–That’s 30,000 large blue whales!
How does Jordan’s waste generation compare to other countries?
People in Jordan generate more waste than the global average, and slightly more than the average for the Middle East and North Africa.
We generate more than twice as much waste as the average person in Yemen – but less than half as much as the average person in the United Arab Emirates!
While this may seem daunting, the good news is that if we each commit to changing our individual habits, we can imagine a Jordan that’s clean and litter-free.
What kinds of waste do we produce in Jordan?
Around half of the waste produced in Jordan is organic.
After that, it is mostly plastics and paper/cardboard. If you look around your home, it will quickly become clear why. Plastics and paper are everywhere!
Where does the waste go?
As of 2019, there are approximately 20 formal and informal dumpsites in Jordan, only one of which is an engineered sanitary landfill–meaning the trash is disposed of properly. The dumpsites are suffering from unsanitary conditions and pose a direct threat to the Jordanian environment. That is, the air we breathe every day and the water we bathe in and drink.
Al Ghabawi is the only engineered landfill in Jordan and it accepts more than 50% of Jordans’ household waste. Almost all the municipal waste generated in Amman is sent to Al Ghabawi–that is, the waste that isn’t littered on the street. In addition Al Ghabawi also receives waste from Zarqa City and Russaife City.
Al Ekaider landfill, the largest landfill serving the northern governorates is in such bad shape that it has recently posed a serious threat to the Yarmouk River groundwater basin. Recently, many efforts have been directed towards improving it. The United Nations Development Program recently launched a project that would enhance the environment in and around the dumpsite.
Only 7% of the waste in Jordan is recycled. But looking at what is actually thrown away, we can do a much better job at reducing our waste and taking better steps toward recycling! Visit our Map to know more about the recycling initiatives in Jordan!
What do people in Jordan think about recycling?
In summer 2019, Oxfam and GiZ conducted a country-wide survey on people’s thoughts around recycling and solid waste management in Jordan. Here is what we found:
- The vast majority (60%) of Jordanians believe that individual households have a shared responsibility with the Government of Jordan in handling their waste
- The vast majority (64.2%) of Jordanian youth consider individuals key to achieving environmental sustainability
- A very, very minimal number (3.8%) of the Jordanian public recycle daily
- Chief barriers to recycling in Jordan:
- Lack of infrastructure
- Lack of initiative
- Lack of information
- Lack of belief in the cause
- A significant number (75%) of non-recyclers in Jordan said they would be willing to recycle if proper facilities were made available to them with a significant majority (9 in 10 people) in Jordan reusing at least one type of material at home. The most commonly reused items are plastic bags (79.2%) and glass containers (75.8%)
- Over half (51.1%) of Jordanians would seek information about recycling from the internet
What the numbers tell us?
Despite the difficult conditions and the lack of awareness around recycling and solid waste management in Jordan, there is indeed hope!
These numbers tell us that with a bit more public awareness about how improper disposal of trash and waste impacts our day to day lives. With a commitment to changing our individual habits and broader support from local and international organizations, we can imagine a cleaner, greener Jordan!
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