Recycling in Jordan


The Social Security Corporation (SSC) on Wednesday became the first public firm to start a paper-recycling programme, according to SSC Director General Khalid Wazani.

Under the agreement, the Modern Recycling Company as well as the Friends of Environment Society (FOE) will supply the SSC with 10 free recycling containers.

â??There is no cost to the corporation in this agreement,â? explained Wazani, adding that taking such an environmentally conscious decision will attract other public and private institutions to join the pact. [source]

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! The 3R’s. That is the mantra I was taught in elementary schools in Toronto when I was younger.

Over here we have a very very very complex system when it comes to garbage. And I mean complex in every sense of the word. We have green bins, blue bins, yellow bags, black bags, leaf bags, and of course a calender distributed every year to tell us which days are which when it comes to collection.

Take for instance December, on the…

2nd – Green Bin & Garbage & Yard Waste
9th – Green Bin & Recycling & Yard Waste
16th – Green Bin & Garbage
23rd – Green Bin & Recycling
30th – Green Bin & Garbage

Next Month…

6th – Green Bin & Recycling & Christmas Tree
13th – Green Bin & Garbage & Christmas Tree
20th – Green Bin & Recycling
27th – Green Bin & Garbage

Now the Green Bin they are refering to is only a few years old. In the bin you must place fruits, vegetable scraps, meat, fish, pasta, bread, cereal, egg shells, coffee grounds, filters, tissues, tea bags, Paper coffee cups, paper plates, Candies, cookies, cake, Diapers, sanitary products, Animal waste, and pet food.

Therefore anything that smells or rots will go in the green bin and is collected every week.

As for the Blue Bin. Plastic bottles, household paper, egg cartons, gift wrap and gift cards, newspapers, milk cartons, metal cans, glass bottles and jars, cardboard boxes, magazines and those little drink boxes. Not to mention pizza boxes but these must be flattened and tied in to bundles no larger than 60 x 60 x 30 cm (sometimes they actually break out the measuring tape)

As you can imagine, people here are less confused about the 3R’s and more confused about the 5W’s: the who, what, where, when and why.

The night before garbage day people check their calendars and find out what’s being collected, they spend a good hour sorting through garbage if they have not already done so. Make sure this or that is not mixed with that other thing. Note that if its not such and such a day for the specific garbage you’ve put out front then it will not be collected. If the garbage weighs over a certain amount and the sanitation worker finds it too heavy, it will be left behind.

In Jordan however people put their garbage in grocery store plastic bags, go down the street to the corner, and throw them in a large metal container that used to have 4 wheels but someone stole a wheel or two to sell and now it’s tipped to one side and filled with dents of where cars have randomly hit them in the middle of the night. Upon throwing your garbage in there an average of 4 cats will then fly out from the depths of the container and scatter all over the street until you’re gone and then they will return to feast.

In certain areas, such as the containers on my parent’s street, the garbage is sometimes picked up twice and even three times a day after it is so full that people just through their garbage around the area of the container. In fact many people take pleasure in the throwing of the garbage it is very much a Jordanian shot-put-like sport. Some will pretend to dribble their garbage and go for a 3 pointer, miss, and have the garbage spew all over the street to the joy of no one..except of course the stray cats.

I wonder if Jordan, or at least Amman, will ever have a recycling programme to be proud of. I cannot fathom people rifling through their garbage, making sure plastics go in the blue bin and leftovers in the green bin and everything else in a specific black bag and making sure they donâ??t weigh too much. I know most Jordanian would even be offended by the idea of having to now be responsible for their garbage.

This is a great concern because Amman is a big city with a growing population, and this is not something great when it comes to waste management in a small country. More and more apartment buildings and houses and offices and markets and therefore more garbage piling up. It is a nuisance to live this way but I suppose this the consequence of actually living this way in this day and age. Cities are packed with people and thus packed with garbage. New materials are filling our market and new means and technologies are developed to recycle them.

I wonder if I will ever walk into a bookshop and see paper that says “recycled” and next to it “made in Jordan”. Or even milk cartons with the famous 3R’s arrow symbol engraved on the bottom.

On the other hand, considering the fact that Jordan is still in the phase of people throwing their pepsi bottles on to the streets while driving their cars, I suppose saving the environment needs to begin elsewhere first before it can advance to the recycling phase.


  • Nas

    I believe the adaptation of recycling requires a cultural overhaul, and not a mere habit that can be touted upon citizens overnight! at best itâ??ll suffer a disgraceful failure in the size of the public pay-phones deployment attempts (Iâ??m aware corporate politics shut down both operators, but we did our bit in inflecting some damage as well)!

    Yet I think there is great potential in propagating a recycling culture in certain tenders of our society, chiefly among companies and the well-off residential areas of Amman.

    Without any green, brown, yellow or pink bins, most companies can implement a very simple waste management system that basically segregates waste into either paper-based and â??basically- “others”! Its simple, no frills and in a limited environment, it can be efficiently enforced upon employees.

    This equally applies to the well-off residential areas of Amman, who should have the peace-of-mind to be conscious about their environment and invest a little bet of their Pilipino maids’ time in segregating the wastefully produced waste.

  • Basem, looool @ “invest a little bet of their Pilipino maidsâ?? time in segregating the wastefully produced waste.” very true 😀

    I agree with what you said as I have thought about it myself. Some recycling is better than none I suppose. And I guess this segment of society, the well-off, as well as the companies, are the ones who consume the most and produce the most amount of garbage. They are also the ones who buy many of their things packaged at safeway, where as the not-so-well-off tend to depend mostly on cheaper fresher foods such as fruits, vegetables, rice, bread etc.

    thanks for the comment

  • Nas,

    A very nice piece on recycling, In Jordan they need to learn about collecting, transporting, and depositing the regular trash before they learn about recycling. Once they master the art of proper packaging and depositing in land fills, then they can be slowly introduced to the recycling programs.

    Jordan has a generic makeshift recycling program, people collect all of the empty aluminum cans that can located any where in the city of Amman.

  • Hatem, lol yeah you’re right about the people collecting cans, but people do that here too, and in every city in the world I suppose. It is pretty small compared to the large scale of could be done. I think as Basem pointed out however, you have to start somewhere.

  • I work at Al-Balqa’ Applied University, which produce a huge amount of paper waist. And I was searching for a place where this waist can be recycled, this is how I got to this web site, searching for useful links and recycling companies. Basically: where to throw the used paper? If anyone can help me, please contact me at Help will be highly appreciated

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