Improving the management of urban waste

Key figures

An average municipal waste production in the EU at around 500 kg/per capita/per annum compared with 250 kg/per capita/per annum for the Maghreb countries
15% increase of per capita waste production over the last ten years in the countries to the South and East
In the Middle East and North Africa region, waste production, currently standing at 63 million tonnes per annum, expected to reach almost 135 million by 2025

Managing waste is not only a technical challenge. It is also crucial to record and comprehend the environmental and health impact, financial and economic parameters, social and cultural aspects as well as the political and legal framework.

Aspiring towards non-sustainable patterns of consumption

Changing consumption patterns, largely as a result of imports and the importation of manufactured goods, is driving a change in waste composition. In most countries to the South and East of the Mediterranean, the proportion of biodegradable waste is on a clear downward trend as the share of plastics and other synthetic materials increases.

In the Middle East and North Africa waste production will grow faster than the number of inhabitants, even if the per capita quantity produced is still lower than in the OECD countries. In Tunisia, waste volume is currently growing by 3%/yr. High waste potential consumption and waste production are set to increase, mainly in the urban areas.

An ambitious target of waste production reduction

As an integral part of the sustainable urban development issue, urban waste has been identified as a priority under the Barcelona Convention1, in various initiatives within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership2 and also within the Union for the Mediterranean.

Solid and liquid waste production and management remain major concerns in many urban regions in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025 promotes national measures for implementing innovative waste management solutions, in line with the waste hierarchy: prevention, reduction, reuse, sorting, recycling, recovery, and, as the least preferred option, disposal (strategic direction 3.4).

Urban waste and material flow analysis outline in the Mediterranean Programme

Plan Bleu, with the support of Veolia Environment, has embarked on a 2009-2012 programme of work intended to evaluate urban waste trends in both quantitative and qualitative terms, through three interrelated activities:
1. Four national studies including one case study on a town: Egypt/Cairo, Tunisia/Bizerte, Türkiye/Bursa.
2. A regional flow analysis study to provide physical data upstream of waste production, thereby providing an analysis of waste production potential.
3. A handover workshop to take stock of the state of play in the region and consider how to proceed further on the basis of the prospects opened up by the studies.

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