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Egypt Environmental Export Market Plan
Chapter 5-Hazardous and Solid Waste Management

Egypt has few, if any, hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facilities. Hazardous wastes are most often illegally disposed of together with industrial nonhazardous solid wastes in unlined landfills. This practice is particularly dangerous in the Delta region where the contamination of surface and groundwaters with toxic substances is much more likely than in arid areas.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) collection practices in Egypt vary from place to place. In general, only a small fraction of the waste generated is professionally collected. In affluent urban areas that can afford to pay for public sanitation, trash is collected by large-capacity trucks. In poor urban neighborhoods and rural areas, collection is done by small vehicles such as pickup trucks or donkey carts. Some of the uncollected trash ends up along the streets, empty lots, roadsides, and other public areas.

There are few, if any, engineered sanitary landfills in Egypt. Many operators of unlined open dumps used as municipal waste disposal sites often burn the waste to reduce its volume. Uncollected trash is also very often burned in the streets. The open burning of MSW is a major source of urban air pollution. Another current practice is to dump MSW in the Nile River and in water distribution canals, which degrades water quality and poses a threat to ecosystems, and to human health, through drinking water. The practice is prohibited under Law 48/1982. There are only a few, poorly equipped maintenance facilities for collection trucks and containers. Medical waste is disposed together with municipal solid waste, thereby exposing large numbers of people to infectious disease.

Industrial Hazardous Waste

About 50,000 tons of hazardous wastes are produced annually by Egyptian industries. Major sources of hazardous waste generation in Egypt include chemical and petrochemical industries, metal foundries, electroplating, and textiles manufacturing. Hazardous residues from industrial processes in Egypt fall under the following major categories: Industrial facilities make their own arrangements for the disposal of their hazardous waste, and disposal practices are almost totally unregulated by the authorities. Liquid hazardous waste is currently discharged into the sewerage network or directly into open waterways or the ground. Solid industrial hazardous waste is, to a large extent, mixed with nonhazardous solid waste and disposed of in open dumps. For example, the southern edge of Lake Maryout has served as a dump site for much of Alexandria's solid waste, resulting in severe contamination of the lake.

Hazardous wastewater treatment sludges are also an important part of the hazardous waste problem in Egypt. The existing sewage treatment plants in Cairo and Alexandria generate 620,000 tons of sludge per year. This volume is expected to reach 1.7 million tons per year after completion of the treatment facilities currently under construction. A large municipal sewage treatment plant can generate up to 200 tons of hazardous sludge per day. Industrial wastewater in Egypt contains large amounts of heavy metals, resin residues from plastics and rubber manufacturing, tarry residues with chlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons from dyes and dyestuff industries, tanyard sludge with a high content of chrome from tanneries, oily caustic sludges, and liquid cyclopentadiene residues from petroleum refineries. When industrial wastewater is discharged into municipal sewage systems, these toxic substances contaminate municipal wastewater treatment sludges. Concentrations of heavy metals reach 8,000 mg/kg for zinc, 6,300 mg/kg for copper, 650 mg/kg for chrome, and 550 mg/kg for lead.

Hazardous Waste Management

Market Size: $30 million.
Best Prospects: waste recovery technologies, incinerators, development of hazardous waste landfills.

The market for hazardous waste management services is driven by the recent promulgation of stringent regulatory standards for hazardous waste handling in Law 4/1994 and Decree 338. The line ministries are currently developing detailed sector-specific lists and classifications for hazardous substances. In response to this regulatory pressure, industries are increasingly exploring waste minimization and recovery options. There are already several examples of this emerging market (see “success stories”). Industries are likely to use financing opportunities provided through the KfW-funded Program Support to Private-Sector Industry and through the World Bank-funded Pollution Abatement Fund created under the Egyptian Pollution Abatement Project (see table 8).

A Sample of a Successful Egyptian Waste Management Project

The Egyptian Copper Works plant produces 100,000 tons/year of steel, 20,000 tons/year of copper, and 15,000 tons/year of aluminum from scrap metals. Scrap iron and steel are reprocessed pyro-metalurgically by open hearth and basic oxygen methods. The sources of secondary aluminum used at the plant are residues of new scrap from the manufacturing process and old scrap from obsolete products. Copper-bearing wastes are melted and used for electric cables and miscellaneous industrial products. The scrap is refined in converters in which zinc, lead, and tin are volatilized.
Source: U.S. Commercial Service, 1997

A Sample of a Successful Egyptian Lubricating Oil Recovery Project
In Egypt, spent lubricating oils are generated at a rate of 300,000 tons per year, of which only 4 percent is reprocessed and reused. The rest is discharged to the sewer system and waterways or burned in open air. The Alexandria petroleum refinery has set an example of spent oil recovery by installing a $105 million lubricating oil reprocessing facility, which started operation in 1996. The refinery is using a new vacuum distillation/hydrogen treatment technology that allows a recovery rate of over 75 percent. The design capacity of a new plant is 30,000 tons/year with a payback period of less than four years.
Source: U.S. Commercial Service, 1997

At the same time, there is an urgent need for hazardous waste landfills and incinerators. This market segment is likely to be donor driven in the near future. However, this area of donor support is only starting to develop. Currently, there are only a few pilot projects funded by the German, Danish, and Finnish governments to develop hazardous waste management facilities. For example, a hazardous waste management project in Alexandria funded by the Finnish International Development Agency (FINNIDA) is designed to plan and implement a management system and licensed landfill for collection, storage, treatment, and disposal of two or three main groups of industrial hazardous waste. The Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) also is funding projects. European firms dominate this market segment.

Table 8: Donor Projects in Hazardous Waste Management
Donor Project Funding ($US millions) DurationDescription
Hazardous Waste Landfill for Greater Cairo

0.1 1998 Establish a storage site and a safe hazardous waste landfill. Formulate operational procedures.
Reception Facilities for Oily Waste in Alexandria and Suez2.01996–1998Establish reception facilities for ship-generated garbage and oily waste in the harbors of Alexandria and Suez.
Hazardous Waste Management Project in Alexandria and the Delta Region2.21998–2001Strengthen institutions of the governorate’s Environmental Management Unit and Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency in hazardous waste management. Assist technically in landfill development.
Rehabilitation of Misr Chemical Industries111.0 1994–1998Increase production of chloralkali and derived products using advanced technologies.
Program Support to Private-Sector Industry and Its Environmental Protection*46.01995–1999Provide medium- and long-term financing to private-sector industry to cover (1) imported equipment for modernization, (2) up to 50 percent of costs of environmental measures, and (3) costs of environmental audits and assessments.
Alexandria Battery Plant Decontamination35.01998–2000Transfer plant from Alexandria to Borg El-Arab and rehabilitate it; decontaminate present plant premises.
World BankEgyptian Pollution Abatement Project*50.5 1997–2002Support pollution abatement investments in Greater Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, and Ismailia.
* Included in “donor projects” found in other chapters.

Solid Waste

Municipal solid waste generation in Egypt is estimated at approximately 12.8 million tons per year. The volume of waste generated is expected to increase by 5 percent per year for the next ten years. MSW in Egypt is characterized by its high organic content: 60 percent of it is food waste; 17 percent is inorganic material; 13 percent is paper; and the rest is metal, cloth, glass, and plastic. Two-thirds of MSW is generated in urban areas.

In addition to municipal refuse, about 1 million tons of industrial nonhazardous solid waste are generated annually, including construction and mining waste. Some sources quote a significantly higher number of 5 million tons per year. Industrial solid waste has a considerable negative aesthetic impact, because it is often dumped along roads and in open desert areas. However, it does not constitute a major threat to public health or the environment if it is not mixed with industrial hazardous waste. Therefore, industrial solid waste is not a high environmental policy priority.

The Government of Egypt (GOE) is undertaking a five-year plan (1997–2002) to raise municipal solid waste collection efficiency in the country with the following targets for collection rates:
The GOE has established the following targets for the disposal of its MSW: 50 percent by sanitary land filling, 40 percent by incineration and composting, and 10 percent by recycling.

To achieve these collection targets, the municipal governments in large cities are beginning to transfer collection services to private enterprises. These measures are expected to increase service coverage and improve collection efficiency. The privatization of MSW collection services creates a demand for collection vehicles and transfer and hauling equipment.

Design and construction of sanitary landfills and incinerators represent long-term market opportunities. There is virtually no funding to support the government targets for land filling, incineration, and recycling. The donor funding in this sector is also very limited (see table 9). Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi and Sumitomo, are the most active in this relatively small market segment.

Medical Waste

Medical waste generation in Egypt is estimated at about 300 to 400 grams per hospital bed per year. Such waste includes cotton, cloth, plastic bags, and syringes. There are approximately 255,000 hospital beds in the country; this number is expected to double over the next five years. The total amount of medical waste generated annually is about 32,500 tons.

DANIDA is carrying out a $3.1 million pilot project at Cairo University Hospital. This project is designed to develop a medical waste management system for Egypt. The objectives of the project include: Presently, the market for medical waste incinerators is insignificant, especially since there are no regulations in Egypt governing medical waste management.

Table 9: Donor Projects in Solid Waste Management

DonorProjectFunding ($US Funding)DurationDescription
GTZ (Germany)Solid Waste Management in Aswan3.51995-2001Improve the solid waste management system in Aswan.
Japanese International Cooperation AgencySolid Waste Management Improvements in Alexandria20.01994-1998Procure garbage collection vehicles. Construct a compost plant with processing capacity of 150 tons per day.

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