An uncontrolled landfill was spread over 25 hectares located 5 km from the city of Meknes. Each year, it received 185,000 tons of waste produced by the 650,000 people living in the municipalities of the prefecture of Meknes.
The accumulation of this waste represented an environmental and health threat. At the social level, informal sorters lived on the site and collected the waste to resell the recyclable materials.
Faced with this situation and in connection with the National Household Waste Management Program (PNDM) aiming for a recycling rate of 20% of household waste by 2020, the Urban Municipality of Meknes launched a call for tenders in 2013 to rehabilitate the landfill, but also to create and develop a modern waste disposal and recovery centre. This delegated management contract was awarded to SUEZ in January 2014 for a period of 20 years.
The center includes a 3,000 m2 sorting shed. The project is based on the following characteristics:
- The biogas produced by landfill waste is captured via wells bored into the mass of waste after it is covered. The gas is then routed via a network of overhead pipes to the recovery unit, where it is used as an energy source to heat-treat concentrates. The project also plans to convert biogas into electricity and potentially to power the kilns at the nearby brickworks.
- The leachate treatment at the site guarantees a quality level high enough for discharge into the natural environment and produces water that can be used for irrigation. The treatment combines an ultrafiltration membrane bioreactor and a reverse osmosis filtration station with sludge drying and heat treatment of the concentrates.
- An area of 7,000 m² is used to produce compost from green waste and certain types of organic waste. The compost is used to improve agricultural soil and green spaces.
- The cooperative called Attadamoun was set up by the informal sorters to keep their activity going and provide an income in the long term, while also improving their working and safety conditions. The 180 informal waste pickers who have been on this site for years are an important part of the project, as they are responsible for sorting and reselling recyclable materials within the new centre. Putting the sorters’ work on a formal economic footing facilitated their social integration and resulted in the creation of a recognised “sorter” status.
The project’s social innovations include:
- Supporting the sorters through all the stages of the restructuring project;
- assistance from the social mediator and the operator to prepare the cooperative’s business plan and forge commercial relationships with potential customers for recovered materials;
- Providing technical, commercial, accounting and management training;
- The operator’s responsibility for investing in basic infrastructure (sorting hangar, cloakrooms, toilets, offices, grouping/storage platform, roads) and a proportion of the operating costs during the cooperative’s launch phase (personal protective equipment, equipment for storing and transporting the sorted materials).
Information sources: https://www.suez.com/en/our-offering/success-stories/our-references/a-waste-recovery-centre-in-meknes-combines-the-fight-against-global-warming-with-social-innovation