Modernisation of Morocco's waste-management infrastructure receives international support

 

The kingdom is taking steps to improve the collection, processing and valorisation of waste. During the COP22 UN Conference on Climate Change, which took place in Marrakech in November 2016, the government signed funding agreements with the Dutch Development Bank (FMO) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to enhance solid waste management.

While progress has been slow, areas with potential for development include controlled landfills, sorting and valorisation of waste through recycling, composting and energy generation. Nevertheless, the road ahead has various challenges, including how to integrate informal workers, deal with pollution and functionally incentivise the valorisation of waste. However, these issues can be overcome, as illustrated by the variety of solutions deployed on the ground.

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT: The FMO and the EIB signed an agreement during COP22, creating a facility for BMCE Bank to fund initiatives that enhance solid waste-management practices and standards.

The deal includes a loan facility of €20m to support solid waste-management projects as part of a partnership between the FMO and the EIB, each of which is contributing €10m. In addition, the agreement includes a comprehensive technical assistance package to be provided by the FMO in support of studies on waste management, expert studies for certain projects and the undertaking of a mission for BMCE, its waste-management clients and Moroccan regulators to the Netherlands, to demonstrate the best international waste-management practices. These measures aim to support the government in reaching its waste-management targets, as outlined in the National Solid Waste Programme (Programme National des Déchets Ménagers, PNDM).

GOVERNMENT PLANS: The PNDM will contribute to the modernisation of household waste management under the 2008-22 National Strategy for Waste Management and the National Strategy for Sustainable Development frameworks. The targets of these programmes included achieving a professional collection rate of 85% in 2016, 90% in 2020 and 100% in 2030; completion of controlled landfill sites in all urban areas by 2020; rehabilitating or closing down all existing disposal sites by 2020; extending household waste-management master plans to all municipalities and provinces; developing sorting, recycling and reuse to achieve a 20% recycling rate by 2020; and training and raising awareness among all stakeholders.

MODERNISATION: In line with the targets of the PNMD, the authorities are working to modernise waste-management practices through the creation of 75 new landfills, along with the rehabilitation or closure of 220 existing disposal sites. However, progress has been slower than anticipated, with the government extending the deadline from 2015 to 2020. “As of April 2017 there were approximately 24 new controlled landfills, with a number of others under way or planned, and existing disposal sites, including uncontrolled ones, being rehabilitated or closed down,” Loubna El Abed, head of the department for the valorisation of non-dangerous waste at the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, told OBG.

As of 2016, 85.2% of urban household waste was collected and 26 disposal sites had been rehabilitated or closed, while seven were being closed down, 20 were under construction and 19 remained in the planning stage. The recycling rate stood at 10%. According to local media, an estimated 60% of waste was processed at controlled landfills in 2017.

SEGMENT-SPECIFIC ACTION: An important part of waste-management modernisation efforts focuses on adding value through recycling, composting and the production of energy. Following the adoption of the “extended producer responsibility” principle and related instruments such as green taxes included in the National Charter for the Environment and Sustainable Development (Law No. 99-12) published in 2014, the authorities have outlined the types of waste to be developed in coordination with private sector stakeholders, including plastics, batteries, tyres, motor oils and food oils. Some of the products – such as used batteries, motor oils, food oils, paper and cardboard, and agricultural plastics – have already been subject to public-private partnership regulations for the valorisation of waste. “The plastics segment has a green tax, and the tyres and motor oils segments should also get theirs if the related instruments are approved,” El Abed told OBG. “In addition, used batteries rely on a system of private sector contributions, whereas food oils, paper and cardboard are self-financed.”

INDUSTRIAL WASTE: In April 2016 the General Confederation of Moroccan Companies joined the ministries of environment, interior and industry to create the Coalition for Waste Valorisation, a non-profit organisation, to strengthen the segment’s legal framework, develop waste chains and waste-management services, and train, fund and raise awareness.

Morocco generates 1.6m tonnes of industrial waste per year, of which 21.25%, or 340,000 tonnes, is hazardous. The kingdom can process 300,000 tonnes of hazardous industrial waste; however, some companies mix industrial waste with other types of waste at landfills, complicating the issue. Some businesses are taking action on a local level. For example, Suez Environnement, a French firm operating in Morocco through multiple subsidiaries, provides waste-management services to local companies, municipalities and the Ouled Salah industrial area.

POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT: Although the number of waste valorisation initiatives has grown, just 26% of recycled products are derived from landfill waste, according to local media reports. The recycling segments with the highest recovery rates include scrap metal, of which 120% is recycled, meaning more metal waste is recovered than discarded annually. The glass recovery rate is around 92%, paper and cardboard 17.5%, and plastic 8%. In these segments, informal waste collection was valued at Dh165m (€15.2m) in 2010. Market middlemen made Dh234m (€21.7m) and wholesalers Dh363m (€33.6m).

In addition to recycling, composting and energy generation hold significant potential. The landfill in Oum Azza, serving 13 municipalities in Rabat, stands out in this regard. Managed by Teodem, the local subsidiary of French firm Pizzorno Environnement, Oum Azza holds the largest waste valorisation centre in the Maghreb region, including two sorting lines and an annual processing capacity of over 850,000 tonnes.

Pizzorno Environnement is working with Swiss company Eléphant Vert, a producer of biofertilisers and biopesticides, to create compost from green waste. It is also exploring energy generation by tapping into the biogas generated from waste decomposition. Since 2016 the landfill in Fez has supplied electricity to the city through a bioelectric facility and provides one-third of the city’s energy needs for public lighting. Organic waste in Morocco represents around 60% of waste – compared to 30% in Europe – indicating a relatively large potential energy source. “However, the biogas subsector requires vast amounts of waste which will lead to transport issues,” Manfred Schweda, owner and founder of sustainable energy company Generizon, told OBG. “At the same time, butane gas has become so cheap that many consumers prefer it.”

Meanwhile, French cement company Lafarge Holcim is set to invest approximately Dh55m (€5.1m) in a sorting centre that will process 90,000 tonnes per year through mechanical biological treatment and produce alternative fuel from household waste. The fuel produced is expected to power the Bouskoura cement and clinker production unit.

CHALLENGES: Challenges remain for the development of waste management. The informal nature of services, especially in collection, remains an issue. Around 3-5% of waste is collected by informal waste pickers, with studies indicating that 7000 people work in this informal industry. Some companies, including Pizzorno Environnement in Oum Azza and Suez Environnement in Meknès, have tackled this challenge by incorporating 150 and 170 informal waste pickers, respectively, into the workforce of their landfills and sorting units through cooperative agreements.

Dealing with landfill leachate – the liquid from decomposing organic waste – has also proven difficult. Furthermore, it remains unclear how the development of waste valorisation in specific segments will be incentivised, and how revenue from the plastics green tax will be utilised. According to official data, the tax raised Dh200m (€18.5m) for the National Environment Fund in 2014 alone. However, while the funds were expected to support plastic recycling, as of October 2016 they had yet to be used, generating some uncertainty. El Abed told local media in late 2016 that a performance contract to establish a plastics valorisation ecosystem, based on funding from the green tax and the Industrial Development Fund, had yet to be signed. No further progress on this had been reported by early 2018.

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