There is an urgent need for a unified and coherent waste management law in Egypt. The application of the law with its accompanying technical specifications and codes is a necessary condition for improving waste service provision. This law would also allow the standardization of contractual requirements with the private sector and ensure that there is no conflict of interest.
Currently there are a number of legislations, regulations and decrees which regulate the provision of waste management services. Some of these regulations pertain to general environmental protection (air pollution, water protection, waste etc.), while others are specifically related to the accumulation of waste and the impact on health. The main legislation, which was implemented in 1994, is law number 4. In 2009, this law was complemented by law number 9.
It should be noted that the Environmental law, once it has been promulgated, became a focus of public discussion and debate. It had a high profile at the time of its issuance, as it impacted on all sectors, all economic activities and behaviour in general. One of the main elements of the law deals with the issue of waste management. It emphasizes the importance of the integration of waste management services and how collection, recycling and final disposal are linked and interrelated.
The key features of the current body of legislation concerning waste management include:
- Definition of waste: On the one hand, waste is defined as any remains of human activity which is discarded by the user because it is of no value to him or her. On the other hand, it could have value to others under different circumstances – this again paves the way for recycling and recovery.
- Several laws and regulations relating to waste management were issued either prior to or after the before mentioned environment law. Some of them are contradictory due to several entities that deal with waste management. These existing differences within the multiple legislations and mandates lead to conflicts. Due to this aspect, there is a lack of coordinated planning which renders the application of the law very difficult.
- Many legislations, relating to the utilization of public land, infrastructural projects or income taxation, have clearly hindered the investment and development in the waste management sector in general, and in recycling facilities in particular.
- The Egyptian law has specified stages or processes for collection, recycling and disposal but does not pay any attention to the quality of services which is, in fact, against the current law.
For the above mentioned reasons, the National Solid Waste Management Program is currently working on developing an integrated waste management policy and a unified law for waste management. The program is supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the GIZ.
Article published by Yasser Abd-Allah Said.
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