Egypt steps up e-waste program

Egypt steps up e-waste program
A worker picks through rubbish in garbage dump at a small recycling factory near Zaraeeb in the shanty area known also as Zabaleen or “Garbage City” on the Mokattam Hills in eastern Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
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Updated 29 November 2020

Egypt steps up e-waste program

Egypt steps up e-waste program

CAIRO: The Egyptian government has increased investment in an e-waste project to boost its recycling efforts.

In a meeting between Yasmine Fouad, the Egyptian minister of environment, and Amr Talaat, minister of communications and information technology, Fouad confirmed that the ministry had taken steps in the field of waste management in cooperation with the ministry of communications.

She explained that it was necessary to organize a plan in the area of waste management to facilitate collecting waste in preparation for it entering recycling factories.

Tarek Al-Araby, director of the ministry of environment’s medical and electronic waste project, said that garbage and waste collectors usually sold electronic waste to used-product merchants in major malls.

He said that the ministries of environment and communications were working on a project to launch an electronic application to collect e-waste, in exchange for money through discount vouchers on new products.

Al-Araby added that the number of electronic waste recycling factories operating officially in Egypt had now increased to seven, and another five were being licensed.

The minister of environment thanked the minister of communications for his assistance in setting up an electronic system to track who throws out garbage and locate the places where the garbage is thrown out.

The minister of communications acknowledged the efforts of the ministry of environment in organizing waste management as the ministry of environment completes the system for collecting, automating and governing waste by technological means.

Talaat added that there was great cooperation between the two ministries in electronic waste due to the importance of the issue, which was evident when the state issued a law to regulate work in this field.

El-Sayed Hegazy, a member of the energy and environment committee in Parliament, praised the efforts of the ministry of environment in finding ways to increase investments related to e-waste within the framework of the state’s comprehensive plan for sustainable development by exploiting industrial waste to serve citizens, most notably in the health and economic areas.

Hegazy called for the allocation of a high proportion of the state’s general budget to support the ministry of environment.

Seven electronic waste recycling factories have been opened, and work is underway on five others that help raise the efficiency of the waste management system and provide a safe, healthy environment free from disease and environmental pollution.

Hegazy encouraged the establishment of a unified body based on development work by the ministry of environment, saying that the country suffered from poor planning in this area.

He added that to increase citizens’ awareness of the negative impacts and dangers resulting from environmental waste, the government must launch awareness campaigns aimed at changing social behavior.

Hegazy said that the electronic application launched by the ministry of environment would encourage individuals to follow the correct procedures to dispose of waste.

Mohamed Bakry, 57, one of the workers in garbage classification and sorting, said that his main job was to separate solid materials, such as plastic and glass, and to send them to factories in preparation for recycling.

He explained that the idea of exchanging waste for money would be harmful to him and to a large number of workers in this field.

Bakry said that in an experiment three years ago, garbage kiosks started appearing in Cairo, with three people working in each of them, providing 300 job opportunities. But if these kiosks were the norm they would eliminate thousands of jobs, harming many families in the process, he said.