The Kurdish Globe
Erbil produces more than 700, 000 tons of garbage every year, which is currently piled up in specific locations outside the city and then burned down.
Recently a contract was signed by the Kurdistan Region's Ministry of Municipalities and Tourism and a Canadian company to recycle the city's garbage.
After several changes, the location of the recycling plant has been determined, which is located some 13 kilometers outside the city, and is now ready to be given to the Canadian company to start implementing the project.
In Kurdistan, garbage is only seen as a source of problems, while it could be recycled or used for generating power.
KRG Minister of Municipalities, Dilshad Shahab, announced the Region's garbage master plan last May. The master plan had been prepared in cooperation with the UNICEF through the Egyptian ECG company, and designed in a way to systematically treat the region's waste.
According to the plan, the garbage will be used to produce fertilizers and raw material for other products as well as for generating power. However, as Farhad Mohammed, the ministry's spokesperson stated, this needs to follow several steps to guarantee that the garbage is treated in a technical way.
In the past few years the collection of the city's garbage has been assigned to a number of private companies and is almost solved in the major cities. Hence, the next step is to treat this garbage through a recycling process. Erbil alone has a daily quantity of 2,000 tons of garbage.
Erbil's recycling plant
Ministry of Municipalities has signed a recycling contract with the Canadian Bio Technic Company for Erbil. According to the Head of Erbil's Municipality, Ali Rashid, this contract will be transferred to his directorate.
The 25-year contract states two recycling plants will be constructed in the eastern and western outskirts of Erbil. The profit of the plants will be equally shared between the ministry and the company for the duration of the contract. Moreover, the government will buy the energy produced through burning of the garbage.
The project has three phases, the first phase being the allocation of plots of land for both plants, the second phase is to bring the machinery and equipment as well as the building of the plants, and the final phase is the actual recycling.
The completion deadline for the first two phases has been set to be one year. However, this deadline has not been met.
Factors behind the delay
Failure to allocate the plots of land due to issues related to the city's master plan and the several changes to the location have been major factors behind the delay in the implementation process.
In addition, according to Rashid, the company has also had a role in the delay by postponing the completion and submission of the factory's plans and machinery.
Now as the locations have been determined, a committee has been established to officially give the lands to the company.
Bakhtiar Sadraddin, Director of Planning of Erbil's Reconstruction, stated that the plants will be located outside the green belt of the city and will be more than 13 kilometers outside the city center.
"It is in a rocky land that is not suitable for agriculture and ease of transportation of the garbage is also taken into consideration to avoid disturbance to people," said Sadraddin.
Recycling is not impossible, especially in Kurdistan, which does not have many industrial remains that are difficult to recycle. Majority of the garbage in Kurdistan comes from households, mainly through food waste.
Ex Municipalities Minister Samir Abdulla told the Globe that they have designed the master plan of the region's garbage in a way that the region has been divided into a number of zones, and some zones have already been given to the private sector for recycling projects.
In addition to the Erbil plants, another recycling plant will be built in Soran to cover the entire area from Haji Omaran to Choman, Mergasoor and Soran.
Haji Omaran is located in the northeast of Erbil on the Iranian border and is 30 kilometers from Choman District, both of which are located on the road from the border to Erbil that goes through Soran. However, Mergasoor is situated on the north of this line.
According to the contract, the plant should have been completed and recycling process should have started in Soran. However, Kirmanj Izzat, Soran's mayor, has no logical justification for the delay except the negligence by the relevant authorities.
"We have put pressure on them to finish it in the near future," said Izzat.
The lack of the municipality ministry's coordination with the region's environmental authorities for the treatment of garbage and recycling deprived the ministry's efforts from inputs by the environmental experts.
The garbage treatment methods have changed a lot in the developed countries and classical methods have been largely abandoned. Therefore, Abdulla Mohammed Head of Erbil's Environment Directorate, suggests that if KRG is determined to work on this issue, it should make use of the modern methods to avoid the need for changing the method after a few years.
Rashid argues that the Canadian company uses the most advanced recycling technologies in the plants and whenever the project starts, environment representatives will also be consulted for the garbage treatment process.
Qirzhala landfills, which has been the place where Erbil's garbage was dumped in the past few years, is now becoming nearer to inhabited areas, and hence the municipalities ministry will have suitable plans for the place in the future when garbage is no longer thrown there.
The landfill is less than 5 kilometers from the city's municipality border and its surrounding is becoming gradually inhabited.
Qirzhala is on the Erbil-Mosul road and is located within Erbil's master plan.
Janaein Company was previously given a contract for the collection of Erbil's garbage and it even built a recycling plant, but due to its failure on the collections, the contract was later canceled.
The first step of such a master plan would be to collect the garbage in a scientific way to allow specialized factories to recycle them in a proper way.
This year, four companies have been contracted to clean Erbil and collect its garbage, but the municipality director admits that the cleanliness of the city is still not up to their expectations.
In Kurdistan Region, all kinds of garbage are mixed together and thrown away in the same containers, this makes the task of recycling very difficult. However, it is expected that with the implementation of the new plans this problem will be resolved.