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How Amman will use green tech to transform waste management

By Dima Hamdallah

What happens to garbage when it reaches a landfill

Since 2011 the amount of solid waste generated by Jordan’s capital of Amman has increased by almost half, a consequence almost entirely of the arrival of a large number of Syrian refugees.

Such growth in population has made it difficult for Amman’s infrastructure to cope. The effects are felt in municipal services, schools, hospitals and other sectors.

Since 2015, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), with support from the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom the EBRD’s  Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Multi-Donor Account (SEMED MDA)* and Taipei China, has taken several steps to upgrade Amman’s solid waste management system.

A total of JOD 87 million of EBRD loans and grants to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) are helping improve the city’s infrastructure.

The funding is partly being used for the construction of a Landfill Gas Recovery (LFG) system at the main landfill site in Ghabawi, serving the capital as well as Zarqa and Ruseifah.

The investment covers the installation of four generators on capped cells filled with waste and covered up to produce electricity by trapping the biogas generated by waste decay.

Currently, the system extracts 2000 square metres of bio gas per hour from the first three capped cells then flares it at the site. Burning the landfill gas prevents methane from escaping to the atmosphere, which is 25 times more harmful than CO2 emissions.  In addition, the system will avoid the hazardous contamination that buried garbage causes the environment.

By the beginning of 2019 the waste-to-energy system at Ghabawi will generate electricity to be distributed via the national power grid around the entire country.

3,350 garbage truck drivers work around the clock to gather 4,000 tonnes of waste every day.

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Additionally, the cells are connected to pipes that help drain strong municipal waste water   from the capped cells, allowing it to evaporate instead of contaminating the ground.

The EBRD and donors are also financing the construction of a fifth cell, equipped with leakage-proof lining which will allow the landfill to receive larger amounts of waste, extending the landfill’s lifespan.

GAM anticipates that Ghabawi will be able to contain a total of 9 cells, enough to process the city’s waste till 2027.

The Bank’s latest investment will be used to purchase 75 new refuse collection vehicles. The new trucks will complement and replace an old fleet that travels long distances, providing better working conditions for GAM’s drivers and reducing working hours.

The EBRD and GAM are also working to develop a Green City Action Plan  to address the city’s needs for sustainable growth in different sectors such as solid waste and waste water management, urban transport, and lighting and energy efficiency.

GAM realises the importance of implementing a national recycling campaign, said GAM Environmental Engineer, Khalid Al Khalidi.

 “Currently, Ghabawi receives a mix of paper, glass, steel and plastic but only 50 per cent of the waste is organic matter. Organic matter is the only waste that the cells can use to generate biogas, hence the importance of keeping all materials separate.”

By recycling at source, Ghabawi will receive “clean” and uncontaminated waste that can easily be processed and even re-sold and recycled at factories also generating profit, he said.

The planned construction of a recycling facility at Ghabawi will be a first step in the direction of a real “green” landfill and will start a recycling movement in Jordan.

* The donors of the SEMED MDA are: Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taipei China and the United Kingdom.

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