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<Integrated Waste Management Practices To Protect Freshwater Resources:
Case Studies From West Asia,
The Mediterranean, And The Arab Region>

Technical Orientations on the Sites of Final Disposal of
Urban Solid Wastes In Morocco

Prepared by:
Mr. Abdelali fares, Division de l'Observation, des Etudes et de la Coordination
- Ministere de l'Amenagement du Territoire, de l' Urbanism,de l'Environnement et de l'Habitat, Morocco


  1. General Overview

    The growth of urban population in Morocco during recent decades has been accompanied by a disturbing production of solid wastes both in quantity and quality. From one region to the other, the quantity of municipal wastes generated per inhabitant per day ranges between 0.4 and 0.9 Kg/inhabitant/day. The rate of waste collection is relatively satisfactory, and could range between 70 to 90%.

    Collected wastes are disposed of in open dumps or through burial. However, waste disposal is generally not satisfactory in terms of hygiene and environmental protection.

    The current conditions of waste dumpsites have been dealt with and evaluated in a national study on solid waste management (SWM). This study, which focuses on all aspects of SWM in Morocco, was undertaken in 1997 by the State Secretariat for the Environment in collaboration with the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation. Two cities situated on the Atlantic coast, namely Safi and Al Jadida were selected in order to put the plan of action and guidelines for municipalities into concrete form, and adjust them according to results obtained. Being a pilot project, the waste management plan for the city of Al Jadida could serve as a prototype for other Moroccan cities.

    However, while awaiting the promulgation of the law on solid wastes, drafting technical guidelines for managing the sites of final disposal and their usage by local authorities would greatly improve conditions of final disposal in terms of hygiene, public health and environmental protection against all harmful effects.

    Each commune would ensure the service of waste management within its perimeters. For large agglomerations, urban community would take care of the final disposal of these wastes. Most of the existing public dump systems are in the form of unhealthy open dumps. The unauthorized waste discharge has become a current problem at the national and local level due to the following negative impacts:

    1. Dispersion of wastes, particularly plastic waste.
    2. Problems of public health, with the appearance of harmful insects and animals that are harmful to the health (mosquitoes, flies, rats, etc.).
    3. Stinking odors.
    4. Emission of fumes provoked by natural combustion.
    5. Pollution through contamination of water streams and underground water.

    In order to resolve these problems, it is necessary to improve the final disposal sites and introduce controlled sanitary landfill sites. It is important that installation of final dumpsites be well planned starting from the selection of the sites until the ultimate utilization of territory after the closure of these sites.

  2. Elaboration on the Plan for the Installation of a Final Disposal Site

    Plans for the development and conversion of final disposal sites consist of the process of selection of territory adopted for the disposal of wastes produced by local collectivity zones. The impact of disposal sites on the environment, the fundamental orientations and executive planning concerning installations and necessary equipment must be well studied.

    2.1 Selection of Final Disposal Sites

    For the selection of final disposal sites, analysis should systematically examine the perimeters of evaluation explained in Table (1) below:

    Perimeters of Evaluation
    Details of Perimeters
    Possibility of Acquisition
    • Type of owner
    • Restrictive utilization of territory
    • Inside or outside urban zones
    • Available Capacity for dumpin
    Consideration of Inhabitants
    • Relationship between space and inhabitants of surroundings
    • Consent of inhabitants
    • Relationship between premises and public planning.
    Impact on the Environment of the Surroundings
    • Relationship between premises and water resources
    • Soil infiltration coefficient
    • Level of the ground water layer
    • Impact of smoke/noise/smell
    • Impact on the flora and fauna
    • Influence of wind direction.
    • Landscape
    • Risks on monuments/cultural heritage
    • Risks of accident
    Economic Factors
    • Land price
    • Indemnities for inhabitant transfer
    • Distance from the zone of waste collection
    • Topographic situation from access route
    • Existence of public infrastructure (electricity, potable water etc...)
    • Place of borrowed land for covering

    Table 1: Evaluation parameters for final disposal sites

    Some principles could serve as guidelines in the establishment of disposal sites, namely:

    • Wastes should not provoke pernicious effects on residents of surroundings and on the environment in general;
    • The risk of water resources contamination should be minimal;
    • There should be no constraints on the utilization of the territory.

  3. Evaluation of the Impact of the Installation of Final Disposal Sites on the Environment

    While laying down plans for the development of final disposal sites, it is indispensable to consider its impact on the surrounding environment. Moreover, within the framework of the assessment of the impact of final disposal sites on the environment, factors estimated to have an impact on the environment are extracted according to points of investigation before and during the construction as well as the stage of site exploitation. Finally, changes befalling the environment as a result of these factors should be estimated and evaluated, and measures should be established.

  5. Disposal System within Final Disposal Sites

    a) Environmental Measures and Disposal Levels

    For the system of final disposal of urban wastes, a method of sanitary dumping would be adopted. Four levels of installation are planned, taking into account the effects on water resources, public health and the environment. Each level encompasses a series of measures in favor of the environment, as indicated in Table (2):


    Factors Influencing the Environment
    Environmental Measures
    Disposal Level(Level of 
    Development of Installation)
    Level 1
    Level 2
    Level 3
    Level 4


    Waste dispersion Installations for the protection against dispersion (enclosure) xx xxx xxx xxx


    Nauseous smells, appearance of harmful animals and insects to the health, fumes resulting from natural combustion, dispersion Cover (blanket) territory xx xxx xxx xxx


    Scattering wastes Structure of storage (dikes)   xx xxx xxx


    Contamination of underground water, and water streams Water drainage, collection , circulation and disposal of leachates   x xx xxx


    Fires, dried trees in the surrounding Installations for treatment of gases emitted     xx xxx


    Development of minimal installations required
    Development of installations required.
    Development of sufficient installations
    Table 2: Environmental measures & disposal levels

    b) Definition of objectives of disposal levels and recommendations

    In order to reduce all negative impacts resulting from public discharges on the environment, preventive measures should define the objectives of disposal levels. Level 1 or Level 2 is recommended in the plan of improvement of the existing disposal sites and at least Level 3 for plans of construction of new disposal sites.

  7. Burial Method and Disposal Management

    As a burial method, it is possible to adjust a layer of uniform waste and opt for the method of locking waste through traction in order to facilitate a uniform compacting. To insure the exploitation management of the disposal site, the following technical aspects are to be respected:

    • The waste layer should be compacted using the method of traction of wastes in such a way as to obtain a uniform thickness and the inclination of the slope upon the traction of wastes should be 4 to 1 (nearly 15? ).
    • Thickness of layer spread out obtained after having machine compacted wastes should reach 40 to 50 cm in average.
    • While taking account during dumping, that the thickness of one layer (height of the rack) is less than 3m, including soil cover.
    • When the exploitation of a waste discharge site is achieved, the last layer of wastes should be covered with a one-meter thick layer of soil.
    • The establishment of a tip-over bridge would allow the calculation and registration of their volume and capacity, and to register them. This installation would be applicable starting from Level 2.

  8. Ultimate Utilization of Land After the Closure of Disposal Site

    Upon the development of plans for the transformation of final disposal sites, the utilization of sites after closure should be anticipated. Also, on-site activities should be carefully considered. In order to shut down the disposal site, rainwater treatment facilities should be installed, the disposal of leachates and fanning out gases according to needs should be considered. A long-term supervision plan should anticipate the following potential risks:

    • Collapse of the cleared land (five years after closure)
    • Gas emissions (15 years after closure)
    • Production of leachates.

  9. Consideration of Intermediary Handling Methods

    These considerations focus on the possibility and necessity of introducing methods of incineration and recycling as intermediary methods for dealing with solid wastes in Moroccan municipalities. Concerning treatment through incineration, given the actual state of affairs, it is not the appropriate method from the technical and financial point of view because of the following:

    • It is possible to find plots of land suitable for disposal sites quite easily.
    • Wastes in Morocco have considerable water content. In this sense, their caloric value is weak, and burning could not be applicable.
    • The cost of treatment through incineration surpasses 900 Dh/ton, i.e., ten times that of disposal in sanitary dumping (Level 3) which costs between 60-100 Dh/ton.

    As for recycling, it is a satisfactory solution from the point of view of the minimization of the solid waste size. Basically, it is technically possible and the quality of wastes is prone to such treatment. However, it is not a long term or durable solution from the economic point of view, bearing in mind its practical introduction in some Moroccan cities, which has not produced the anticipated objectives. Furthermore, its management has not been actually easy.

    It should be noted that some communes do consider the use of bio-methane resulting from wastes for purposes of generating electricity. However, this treatment is still under study.

  11. Promotion of Private Sector Consideration

    The privatization of public services of solid waste management by local authorities is the actual case in Morocco. Several urban communes have taken the initiative of welcoming private sector participation in the collection of household wastes, road sweeping and refuse collection.

    The final waste disposal, which necessitates considerable initial investments, is not a typical example of privatization at present. In order to promote privatization of the service of final waste disposal, it is necessary that the local authorities become conscious of the volume of wastes collected and the cost of solid waste management.

    This information could serve as a frame of reference to compare offers put forth by private enterprises. Moreover, in order to guarantee this sub-contracting, some pre-conditions should be set, including contracts which respond to conditions of local communities and environmental requirements, as well as the establishment of follow up and supervision mechanisms of these contracts.


  12. Conditions for the Application of Technical Guidelines for the Final Disposal of Urban Wastes

    In order to put into effect technical orientations at the national level, the State Secretariat for the Environment has organized 5 workshops on solid waste management in 1998 in different regions of the Kingdom as well as a national workshop in Rabat. On the other hand, survey studies on dangerous wastes at the national level are currently being undertaken within the department of environment.

    At the local level, a practical manual project for the improvement of solid waste management within municipalities is also being realized. This manual would serve as a technical guide to municipal engineers and would allow a popularization of concepts and technical guidelines, hence making them more easy to use by local decision-makers.

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