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:
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:
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:
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.