MedTOWN in Palestine organises a national event on waste to wealth
Solid waste management is a major environmental issue in Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip, which has limited land and resources. The main challenge is the lack of infrastructure and resources for collecting, transporting, and disposing of waste. The current waste management system relies on open-air dumping sites, which pose a significant risk to human health and the environment. Moreover, the Israeli occupation and the ongoing political conflict have hindered the establishment of an effective waste management system in Palestine. However, several initiatives have been undertaken by the Palestinian government, local and international organizations to address this issue, including the establishment of recycling facilities, the promotion of composting, and the implementation of waste reduction programs.
Palestine generates a large quantity of waste annually. Rising prosperity, urbanization and consumption portend a rapidly growing trend in quantum of waste generation that threatens sustainability of cities and ecosystems. While waste is a significant global problem, it has the potential to generate value added products and improve economy of the country if exploited suitably.
The Palestinian Hydrology Group (PHG) and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), within the MedTOWN project, launched a pilot project for waste separation at source in May 2023 in Beitillu town in Ramallah governorate, targeting 100 households. In this initiative, families will separate the waste at home and then send the sorted waste into separate containers in each home. Prior to the pilot project, household waste sorting was not practiced. In order to promote and strengthen this initiative and achieve commitment and sustainability, incentives will be granted to families who are committed to separating waste on a daily basis. A computerized system has been developed to facilitate the management, recording the separated waste quantity by each family and convert this quantity into incentives or rewards at the Municipality.
Various conscious efforts have been taken by PHG and PARC, reducing, reusing and recycling wastes and extracting values from wastes by adopting the concept of co-production, social and solidarity economy and circular economy with 3R principles (reduce, recycle and reuse).
A circular economy approach has been adopted by the MedTOWN project as an efficient and comprehensive waste management approach. However, the viability of recycling, composting, waste-to-energy, and other resource recovery projects, crucially depend on ensuring segregation of waste at source. In parallel, it is necessary to activate existing governing policies and laws, as well as promoting the enactment of supporting laws and legislations through policy dialogue with stakeholders and complementing that with practices on the ground, including behaviour change for adoption for waste segregation at source.
In this context, a first national event will be organised on 28th May 2023. It aims to help address the negative environmental and health impacts of current waste management practices, while also creating economic opportunities and promoting sustainable consumption and production practices in the community. It will also be an excellent opportunity to bring together key stakeholders from the government, private sector, civil society, and academia to showcase innovative waste management practices, share knowledge and experiences, and develop strategies for scaling up successful models.
The goals of the event would be to raise awareness about the negative impacts of current waste management practices and highlight the benefits of alternative models, showcase successful initiatives and projects, promote collaboration and partnerships between different stakeholders, and Identify challenges and opportunities in the waste management sector in Palestine and develop recommendations for policy makers and stakeholders to address these challenges and promote sustainable waste management practices.
Several messages will be communicated during this event:
- The importance of waste management and the potential for waste to be a valuable resource.
- Showcase successful waste management practices, technologies, and business models that have been implemented in Palestine and other countries.
- The importance of waste management for public health, environmental sustainability, and economic development in Palestine.
- The need to transition from traditional waste management practices, such as landfilling and open burning, to more sustainable and innovative approaches, such as recycling, composting, and waste-to-energy.
- The potential for alternative waste management models to create new economic opportunities and jobs in the waste management sector.
- The importance of community involvement and participation in the waste management process, and the potential for co-production and SSE frameworks to promote more equitable and sustainable outcomes.
- Promoting behaviour change for strengthening waste segregation at source.
- Encourage collaboration and partnerships between stakeholders, including government, private sector, academia, and civil society, to promote sustainable waste management practices and create economic opportunities.
Obstacles to the implementation of alternative waste management models in Palestine will be discussed during the event, and strategies for addressing these obstacles will be developed and shared. These may include issues such as:
- Lack of funding, technical expertise, infrastructure, equipment.
- Social and cultural barriers to changing waste management practices.
- Lack of policies, laws and regulations.
- Weak markets for segregated raw waste as for products such as compost.
- Gaps in waste and segregated waste management capacity of urban local bodies.
- No continuous information, education and communication messaging.
- Lack of data on produced solid waste type.
Overall, a national event for the promotion of alternative models of waste management in Palestine would be a valuable platform for raising awareness, sharing knowledge and experiences, and promoting collaboration and partnerships towards more sustainable and innovative waste management practices that promotes social solidarity circular economy in Palestine.