Towards sustainable solid waste management in Jordan
Abstract: Jordan is a country with a growing population that is undergoing rapid modernization. The increased volume of solid waste and associated logistical difficulties, the steady growth in the cost of waste management and the risk to human health are sources of concern. The increasing amount of solid waste generated in Jordan has not been accompanied by adequate sanitation facilities or management programmes. The poor financial situation of municipalities constitutes an obstacle to modern solid waste collection, recycling and successful landfill management. Mixed waste is collected without source separation, in addition to which open dumping and co-disposal of wastewater are practised. Solid waste mismanagement leads to public health risks, adverse environmental impacts and other social and economic problems that put increasing pressure on the infrastructure as well as the authorities responsible. The objectives of the present work were to; (1) investigate and evaluate the existing solid waste management (SWM) system as well as the current policy, institutional, legal and financial framework, (2) review regulations, compare options and identify needs, (3) determine the problems associated with current practices, especially landfilling and source separation, with focus on the environmental impact of municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills and describe the main obstacles to developing this sector to a sustainable level in the future, and (4) suggest design parameters and operational methods for sustainable landfill operations in the light of the current financial, social and environmental situation in Jordan. Field and laboratory experiments, numerical simulation as well as surveys were used to achieve these objectives. The field experiment was conducted to gather information about the sanitary status of Mafraq landfill by investigating the leachate and groundwater quality in its surroundings. Laboratory experiments on typical Jordanian waste were undertaken to explore the effects of landfill practices and climate on emission potential from landfills in Jordan and similar regions. Modelling and numerical simulation were used to compare different waste management options and their effects on climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) production. The daily landfill cover of Mafraq landfill was studied, while in Akaider landfill a water balance equation was applied to predict the leachate generated by the co-disposal of wastewater (liquid sewage mixed with municipal waste) and its possible effect on groundwater. Two surveys were conducted; The first was designed to explore the public perception and awareness of as well as willingness to recycle MSW and to determine best SWM practices. The aim of the second was to describe the role of scavengers in waste management in terms of waste reduction and material recovery. Field experiments clearly demonstrated that Mafraq landfill does not meet the standards of a sanitary landfill, as the leachate is free to interact with the groundwater aquifer. Furthermore, the leachate analysis revealed that the soil under the landfill is contaminated. Groundwater from wells in the vicinity is unsuitable for household use due to high concentrations of fluoride and mercury which, if ingested, can cause serious health problems in humans. Laboratory results provided evidence of the production of a significant quantity of leachate and landfill gas during wet seasons. However, the gas and leachate production rate was negligible in summer. Significant traces of heavy metals were found in the leachate due to mixed waste disposal, indicating that the landfill design and operation could be improved. Modelling of various waste management options revealed a vast reduction in GHG emissions when organic waste was separated and either composted or treated in anaerobic bio-reactors. The numerical simulation of landfill daily cover demonstrated that clay loam was suitable for Mafraq landfill cover as well as for sites with similar soil and climatic conditions, as it had the lowest penetration depth at the end of the simulation period, is available in sufficient quantities in the landfill, does not waste landfill space and effectively seals the waste. The simulation result for the suggested water balance equation illustrated that the co-disposed wastewater plays a major role in controlling the rate and magnitude of contaminants percolating from MSW leachate and increases groundwater contamination. Finally, the survey revealed that people in Jordan had a very low level of knowledge about recycling, albeit a positive attitude towards and willingness to learn more about it. Satisfaction with municipal waste collection services was very high. Thus, source separation at the point of generation will be difficult to achieve in the immediate future in Jordan. Scavengers play an important role in informal SWM, especially in terms of waste reduction and material recovery. The value of the scavenged material makes scavenging a relatively profitable business for poor people and could attract more in the future.
This dissertation MIGHT be available in PDF-format. Check this page to see if it is available for download.