Recycling Initiative of Karak Municipality, Jordan

Small project marking a shift towards more sustainable waste management


The rapid increase of waste leads to serious environmental challenges, as solid waste is a major pollutant if not handled properly. To mitigate its negative impacts, state-of-the-art approaches to waste management focus on two main aspects:

  1. Reduction of solid waste generation at a source (as far across the supply chain as possible);
  2. Recycling and reuse of components of solid waste (glass, paper, metals, plastic etc.) including production of compost from organic waste.

Procedures and processes that precede a shift towards a comprehensive and sustainable waste management include several mandatory stages from planning necessary facilities and securing financial resources for their construction and operation, to constant performance monitoring.

The issue of establishing a proper system of solid waste management has become more and more relevant for Jordan in recent years as waste quantities have been increasing in the country due to population growth, industrial and agricultural progress and changes in consumption trends. Additional pressure has been created due to a lack of environmental awareness and limited environmental legislation in solid waste management.


The City of Karak has a very significant, strategic location in Jordan and covers an area of 3,495 km2. The population of Karak Governorate is about 280.000, with about 112.000 people living within Karak Municipality district. The Greater Karak Municipality is the focal point of all development efforts of the city. It is responsible for many public services, including garbage collection and hygiene control for houses and public places. So far, waste collection and maintaining a clean environment remain a heavy burden for administrative and technical staff, as well as the municipal fleet of garbage vehicles, as 120 tons of waste collected daily should be transferred to the landfill site located 35 km from Karak.

The municipality is also under pressure due to limited financial resources and continuously growing service demand. The Syrian crisis has resulted in a large number of refugees fleeing to Jordan, and Karak Municipality in particular is currently hosting about 12.000 refugees, creating additional challenges for local authorities in developing comprehensive waste management projects.

To start solving the waste problem, many solutions have already been proposed. One of the most important ideas was establishing a recycling station for carton, paper and plastic. The initiative took place in September 2015 and was supported by the German Association for Adults Education, German Cooperation Council, Karak Municipality and Jordan Hashemite Fund for Human Development.


Firstly, the project has aimed at reducing the pressure on waste collection vehicles and laborers by reducing the amount of waste going to the landfill. This was achieved by separate collection of three major types of recyclables: paper, carton and plastic.  A decrease in waste volumes, leading to reduced need for fuel for garbage vehicles, helps mitigate negative impacts on the environment. In addition, recycling itself is an important step in conserving natural resources and reducing GHG emissions to support sustainable development.

Another objective of the project is creation of job opportunities in collecting, processing and re-manufacturing the recycled waste. In a long-term perspective, it will encourage investors to start up recycling businesses. Moreover, it is believed that recycling initiatives, in addition to creating marketable outputs with certain economic value, will help create products that are affordable for low-income consumers.

From the societal point of view, the project is important for awareness-raising and educating the local community with regard to waste separation and its importance for preservation of the environment. Through establishing a procedure for and involving active actors in the process of waste recycling, the project aims to reinforce positive behavior of those target groups that have already changed behavioral and consumer patterns in society.

An additional objective of the initiative on the municipal level is capacity building and training for workers, including field trips and workshops on state-of-the-art approaches to solid waste management.


The recycling station project for carton, paper and plastic in Karak was implemented in a number of stages and, most importantly, in close cooperation with all actors involved in the process.

As the first step, an agreement was reached on establishing a project steering committee, comprised of representatives of all partner organizations. The committee held meetings to define a suitable work mechanism of the recycling station as well as discuss its legal, administrative and technical frameworks. Roles were defined for each partner according to their respective areas of expertise and authority.

The next steps were as following:

  • Karak Municipality allocated a piece of land within the vocational zone, provided equipment and offices for the staff to implement the project. The municipality also set up a ventilation system and helped fulfill public safety requirements. Metal boxes were provided to collect carton from market places.
  • To carry out the separation and recycling operations, Karak Municipality appointed four workers that also received relevant training.
  • The German Association contributed to the project by providing equipment such as hanger, compactor for carton and plastic, as well as a forklift.
  • The German Cooperation Council supported setting up a metal umbrella to protect recyclables and organized study visits to similar facilities for technical and administrative staff.
  • Jordan Hashemite Fund for Human Development supported the project through awareness-raising campaigns in schools and in the local community, informing people about the necessity of waste sorting and recycling.


  1. The project reduced the workload of waste collection vehicles and laborers by reducing the amount of waste to be transferred to the landfill by approximately 730 tons per year. In addition, it saved two daily trips for four-ton garbage trucks. This has led to fuel saving and allowed them to mitigate negative environmental impacts. Establishment of the recycling station has also reduced the time needed by workers to collect waste.
  2. The project has had a significant impact in terms of awareness raising in the local community, so that currently a growing number of citizens are using stations to dispose of carton.
  3. The project has achieved financial sustainability, as the feasibility study showed that financial returns on the station covered its operating costs.
  4. A local investor was attracted by the project and has set up a plant for both recycling and re-use of carton (depending on the quantities supplied by the municipality). Consequently, this contributed to creating new job opportunities in the recycling sector.


This project, however small it might seem, represents a success story for Karak Municipality and marks an important milestone in the city’s efforts to achieve sustainable development and apply an integrated approach to its waste management.

Among the major takeaways of the project, the following aspects are worth mentioning:

  • Benefits of these initiatives should be inclusive and available to all stakeholders to ensure sustainability of the project;
  • Encouragement of the private sector to participate in solid waste management is vital for effective elaboration of new economic opportunities and creation of additional economic value;
  • Incentives and facilitation are important tools for encouraging those who contribute to waste reduction, recycling and composting;
  • Awareness-raising and information campaigns, that showcase best practices in solid waste management and are carried out in both public and private media, are necessary elements in preparing the local community to new (alternative) forms of waste management.

Nevertheless, when it comes to future opportunities of the recycling station in Karak, its development must be examined in two directions:

First: Transformation towards quantitative production (more quantities means less costs) by providing a new compaction vehicle for carton and plastics, as well as involving nearby municipalities into supply of recyclables. This should create an operational power and improve economic feasibility of the recycling station.

Second: Qualitative development should take place (i.e. extending the station operation with new types of products) to ensure effective use of the already available infrastructure.

weitere Information

Stand: 07.11.2017


Eng . Sajeda Aqel Rahaife

Head of Water and Environment Division

Greater Karak Municipality


بلدية الكرك الكبرى - الرئيسية


Kategorien: Connective Cities Kommunale Dienstleistungen Abfall- und Kreislaufwirtschaft
Regionen: Naher Osten Jordanien Karak

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