Egypt’s waste problem: Two solutions for the price of one

Helen Mendes

Helen Mendes
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net

Two of the world’s biggest challenges are waste management and energy production. Most of the trash from the world’s cities ends up in landfills, with several negative impacts to the environment.

Meanwhile, our demand for energy is rising, following the industrialisation of emergent markets and the rapid population growth. In order to discuss solutions to the world’s energy problems, participants of IAP’s conference in Rio met at the Challenge Lab ‘Towards a sustainable energy future’, on the second day of the event.

Sherien Elagroudy, assistant professor of Environmental Engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, talked about the challenge of using technologies to convert waste into energy.

Elagroudy shared some good news she received that day: her team had secured a US$1.8 million grant to establish the first Solid Waste Management Centre of Excellence in Egypt, with the main goal of increasing the efficiency of waste-to-energy technologies. Municipal solid waste could be turned into electricity and fuel.

The project is a partnership between Egyptian research institutes, industries and a consultancy. The Centre will focus on three objectives: to come up with innovative ideas in the field of waste management, including waste collection, transfer, treatment and disposal; to educate managers, students, and people who work in the field; and to create public awareness of the value of waste.

The Centre will consist of two labs at the Ain Shams University and one lab at the University of Cairo.

“We also signed endorsement letters with ten international institutes to collaborate with us,” says Elagroudy, who has recently won the best young scientist award from her University, and has been selected as a Young Scientist at the World Economic Forum 2012.

If the team wants to scale up their technology, they will be able to do it, because of the partnership with one industry that manages Cairo’s municipal solid waste. “We are very much looking forward to it,” commemorates Elagroudy.

This blog post is part of our coverage of 2013 Global Network of Science Academies (IAP) conference which takes place 24-26 February 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. To read further news and analysis please visit our website.

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