Wasting Opportunities in Morocco
Improved purchasing power, changing consumption patterns and improved industrial output, along with rapid demographic growth, are all by-products of the steady growth Morocco has enjoyed in recent years – but so too are pollution and waste.
The scale of these problems has prompted the government to step up working to reduce the negative environmental externalities resulting from economic development, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
Waste disposal in particular has become a significant challenge, in part because Morocco suffers from underdeveloped waste management systems. Littering is commonplace and illegal dumps are found throughout urban areas.
With the aim of bringing the percentage of recycled waste up to 20% by 2015, the government launched a 15-year programme in 2007, the National Solid Waste Programme (Programme National des Déchets Ménagers et Assimilés, PNDM), which targets an improvement in solid waste collection through the expansion of collection services to 90% of the urban population by 2015 and 100% by 2020. To finance its operations, the Dh40bn (€3.58bn) programme has received support from the World Bank, which contributed €200m in February 2011.
Crucially, a large part of the plan depends heavily on increased private sector participation. As of the end of 2011, 32% of household waste was transported to controlled sites managed by the private sector, up from 10% in 2008. This was expected to reach 62% by the end of 2012, with five new waste management facilities planned in Casablanca, Beni Mellal, Ifrane, Khouribga and Safi. As of October 2012, private companies were responsible for collecting 76% of solid waste, up from 44% in 2008. The daily output of domestic waste among urban residents is estimated at 0.76 kg per person.
The France-based firm Groupe Pizzorno, which operates in Morocco via its subsidiary Segedema, is one international company operating in this sector, employing some 3000 people. The firm is active at the Oum Azza dump in Rabat, where some 700,000 tonnes are processed every year. In 2007, Sagedema signed a 20-year agreement to manage the 100-ha site.
In addition to its current activities, which consist mainly of waste collection in urban centres and waste treatment, the French company has plans to begin recycling and exporting 400,000 tonnes of waste annually. This will be done in the recycling facility at the entrance of the Oum Azza dump, where workers from an unregulated Akreuch facility in Rabat have been hired.
Indeed, one of the main pillars under the PNDM is to regulate all rubbish facilities across the country and rehabilitate some 300 informal dumps by 2015. So far, 21 informal dumps have been rehabilitated and 64 are undergoing rehabilitation.
In addition to household waste, the Oum Azza dump also manages non-hazardous industrial waste. However, to achieve the goals of the PNDM and accommodate the rise in industrial activity, industrial waste will need to be managed outside of Oum Azza.
Foreign players are moving in to take advantage of the increased demand. In November, the France-based firm Elec-Recyclage, which specialises in recycling industrial waste, established itself in the Tangier Free Trade Zone (TFZ). French Elec-Recyclage, already present in Tunisia and across the US, invested Dh35m (€3.13m) in its Moroccan plant within the TFZ. The factory, which covers some 7000 sq metres, will manage various types of industrial waste, such as electronic, wood, metal and plastic waste. It will collect this waste from industrialists both within the TFZ and nationwide, then export the recycled products. In 2012, the company handled more than 15,000 tonnes of waste worldwide.
“When you look at the typology of waste in Morocco, 80% of waste is organic, so with that, one can utilise technologies such as digesters which generate energy and produce organic fertilisers from organic material,” Ahmed Baroudi, the general manager of Société d'investissements énergétiques, told OBG. “This can cut down on expensive energy imports that can be replaced by reusing organic waste material.”
Although an economic segment like any other, waste management in Morocco is still heavily underexploited. A large part of it operates in an informal manner, with an estimated 10,000 people delving through bins and dumps for recyclable goods. As the country looks to further regulate this activity, more doors will open up to investors, in turn allowing the sector to develop and encourage more sustainable demographic and industrial growth.