Morocco unlocks benefits to urban waste management


As the government continues to push towards more sustainable policies for everything from energy generation to agricultural practices, the problem of dealing with the kingdom’s rising quantities of solid waste is taking centre stage in the planning of urban development. As many as 5m tonnes of solid waste are generated across the kingdom every year, according to figures from sustainability initiative EcoMena, and output is growing at an average of 3% per annum. This means that failure to act will increasingly compound the problem. With the government enlisting the support of international development institutions to handle the situation, waste management is likely to both have an impact on the environment and establish new private sector opportunities.

Management Programme

In 2007 Morocco launched the National Programme for the Management of Solid Waste (Programme National de Gestion des Déchets Ménagers, PNDM), a 15-year scheme aimed at changing the way in which trash collection and treatment is handled in Moroccan communities. Involving a mix of new infrastructure, regulatory changes and fiscal measures, the PNDM was budgeted at roughly Dh37bn (€3.3bn) throughout its implementation period. The programme is comprised of three phases, and Morocco was able to secure a financing package from the World Bank for the first two phases of implementation, which cover the period from 2012 to 2017.

Policy changes have already generated results. The percentage of municipal solid waste collected professionally in the country’s urban areas increased from 45% to 82% between 2007 and 2016, according to the World Bank. The Moroccan government plans for 90% of all municipal solid waste to be collected in this fashion by 2020. Another positive indication of the policy’s impact was a notable increase in the amount of urban waste disposed of in sanitary landfills, which went from 32% to 53% between 2012 and 2016.

Morocco’s difficulty in dealing with solid waste is the result of a combination of rising population numbers and a lack of adequate infrastructure. The kingdom has been supported in its campaign against mounting volumes of solid waste by close coordination with the World Bank, which began providing technical assistance and financing in 2008. Total funds for this project are set to reach over $270m, intended to help the kingdom establish a proper waste-management plan as well as the necessary infrastructure. To achieve this, the programme has established ambitious objectives for 2020. It will oversee the restoration of up to 80 landfill sites, increase recycling of collected waste to as high as 20% – compared with 5% in 2016 – and improve existing trash collection routes.

Space Availability

According to the World Bank’s 2016 evaluation of the programme, the kingdom has made progress in the establishment of proper landfill areas for waste collection around major urban centres. But Morocco is moving forward not only in terms of accelerating the involvement of the private sector in the handling of waste, but also of using its potential as an energy-generation mechanism.

As of 2016 biogas collection in a landfill near the city of Fez had a capacity of more than 1 MW of electricity, powering as much as 30% of the city’s public lighting system, according to the World Bank. Fiscal measures have also helped to improve waste management across the country. A new eco-tax that was imposed in 2013 targets plastic packaging. The proceeds from mechanism are currently being employed to help establish a plastic recycling system.

Waste-management programmes are increasingly critical, not only for environmental planning, but also as a way to better organise urban settlements and manage population growth. By progressively linking waste management with energy production, the kingdom will be in a better position to address some of its most pressing economic development needs.

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The Report: Morocco 2019

Energy chapter from The Report: Morocco 2019

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