Waste Management in Egypt – An Overview
- By Dr. Hisham Sherif

Solid waste management has become a major concern over the past few years in many developing countries and in Egypt the problem is further complicated due to various factors.

August 29 2021 By Dr. Hisham Sherif
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In Egypt, the problem is further complicated because the municipal solid waste management system lacks good governance and integration among stakeholders due to the lack of proper application of laws and the lack of definition of roles among stakeholders. These aspects pose severe health and environmental threats to Egyptian societies and waste their resources. Whereas, ISWM stands for reducing waste volume at source, improving sorting, increasing recycling, and recovering waste in the form of compost or energy.

The amount of solid waste in Egypt is about 75 million tons annually, while the amount of municipal solid waste reaches 22 million tons annually, with an annual increase of 3.8%. This translates to a total amount of municipal solid waste produced per day of 60,000 tons. This amount of local solid waste can be used to produce 4 million tons/year of RDF and 5 million tons/year of compost. The number of modern and future domestic solid waste treatment facilities (MRF, compost, and RDF) is close to 150 facilities in all Egyptian governorates.

 The major challenges in the waste management in Egypt are:

  • Structural problems in the waste management industry, including lack of a nationwide collection infrastructure and an unconducive market to the byproducts of recycling i.e. (compost, RDF, and Recyclables).
  • Lack of incentives for the private sector, including minimal financial resources by the government to pay service fees to service providers who handle waste.
  • Fragmented institutional framework. The responsibility of solid waste management was split between the Ministry of State for Environment Affairs/EEAA, Ministry of Local Development, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of transportation, and Ministry of Finance. Such fragmentation led to unclear institutional roles and responsibilities, duplication of efforts, and lack of technical, organizational, institutional capacity and accountability.

The important regulations and government initiatives that are driving the growth of the sector in the nation include the following:

Previous policy and legal framework in Egypt were dispersed in many pieces of bylaws, decrees, and regulations, including:

Law # 38/1967 on General Public Cleaning and its amendment (Law # 31/1976), regulating the collection and disposal of solid waste from residential, commercial, industrial, and public areas.

 Ministry of Housing Decree # 134/1968, implementing Law # 38/1967, governed the collection, transport, and disposal of nonhazardous solid waste.

 Law # 48/1982, granting authorizing authority to the Ministry of Irrigation to protect the Nile River and other waterways against pollution from solid waste. Presidential Decree # 284/1983, establishing the Cairo and Giza Beautification and Cleansing Authorities.

Law # 4/1994 on Protecting the Environment and its Executive Regulations (#338/1995), created the Environment Affairs Agency (EEA), which was mandated with developing and implementing strategies for preserving the environment.

 Law #10/2005, establishing a solid waste collection fee which was added to the electricity bills paid by households and businesses.

 Prime Minister Decree # 1741/2005, amending the Executive Regulations of Law 4/1994 and covering regulations for the selection of sites for recycling and landfilling as well as equipment entailed for waste collection and transfer.

Article 37 (2) of Law # 9/2009, amending Law # 4/1994, prohibiting open burning of garbage and solid waste as well as placement, sorting, and treatment of wastes in areas rather than those specified out of residential, industrial and agricultural areas and waterway.

 Presidential Decree # 86/2010, regulating the closure of existing dumping sites and the landfill at Greater Cairo as well as the allocation of five new sites outside Cairo’s residential and commercial belt.

Prime Minister Decree #3005/2015, establishing an independent Waste Management Authority (WMA) mandated with developing and regulating a waste management strategy, by the Environment Law. WMA was tasked with carrying out the role(s) of the EEA on waste management, handling hazardous and nonhazardous waste, and protecting the environment from different types of pollution.

On October 13, 2020, President Abdelfattah Elsisi ratified Egypt’s new Waste Management Law (# 202/2020), which was approved by the House of Representatives on August 24, 2020. The law is Egypt’s latest attempt to regulate the waste management industry by creating a new regulatory authority (WMRA) to oversee proper waste management and recycling practices and develop a national strategy to improve waste disposal and recycling. The Law aims to create a waste management regulatory authority (WMRA) to oversee proper waste management and recycling practices. WMRA will be in charge of creating a national strategy to tackle the issue of waste management. The law seeks to provide investment incentives and other measures to encourage garbage collectors, small companies, private contractors, and recycling centers to join the formal economy.


The proposed key developments to enhance the waste management in Egypt overall depend mainly on three main focal points:

The population: is the first beneficiary of the service

 In the past, there have been no major efforts to create community awareness for citizens, which is a vital component of a solid waste management system. People must be convinced that they have to pay a service fee for the waste disposal they produce, and communities must create public awareness regarding that through Well-designed public awareness campaigns that would lead to an increased and active public participation in facing the chronic solid waste management problems. Community participation can be strengthened through multidisciplinary information, education, and communication for the citizens on one side and capacity-building programs for the officials and staff on another side. An important tool to stimulate community participation is public education, which is necessary to inform people how to reduce waste generation and increase the recycling rate. That must be developed in close cooperation with professionals, relying on all methods of communication popular (TV, radio, etc.), executed continually over several years. The key to the success of a solid waste management system is the cooperation of citizens. Citizens ought to be involved in proper storage, collection, and safe disposal of waste. The community should also be made aware of health risks associated with improper solid waste management.

Technology and Service providers

 Technology providers offer different waste treatment solutions according to market demands and requirements. They provide operational, financial, marketing, and sales research, analysis, and studies in all types of waste management. The rapid growth of waste calls for changing practices. However, developing the waste sector requires investments and competencies that the public sector cannot always provide. Therefore, local authorities turn to the private sector, hoping to benefit from its experience and competitive prices. Waste and by-product processing provide new economic opportunities for the private sector. Accordingly, the Egyptian Franchise Law No. 67 of 2010 issued a law regulating partnership with the private sector in infrastructure projects, services, and public utilities, and the public-private partnership contract was granted in accordance with the provisions of this law. Therefore, technology providers are classified as: 1) Public sector; 2) Private sector; 3) Partnership between the public and private sectors.


 It is proposed to establish a holding company affiliated with the Ministry of Finance, whose functions include: Finance management at the subsidiaries level; Review and approval of master plans and annual plans for subsidiaries; Follow up on the implementation of plans; Setting codes, conditions and specifications for all business terms.

The author Dr. Hisham Sherif  is Chairman & CEO, Engineering Tasks Group (ENTAG); Egyptian Company for Solid waste recycling (ECARU), Egypt