Buzz

Cairo Leads European Cities in Recycling

Cairo Leads European Cities in Recycling

Cairo’s ‘garbage people’ – known as the Zabaleen – are recycling 85 percent of Cairo’s garbage, a staggering rate given European cities only recycle 32 percent on average, according to a short film by National Geographic on the Zabaleen.

In addition, the amount of garbage they collect daily amounts to nearly 9,000 tons – the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, the film adds.

Cairo’s Zabaleen population is estimated to be between 50,000 and 70,000 and are based in seven different settlements – the biggest one is located at the bottom of the Mokattam Mountains and is most commonly referred to as “Garbage City”. With a population of 20,000 to 30,000, over 90 percent of Zabaleen residing in this settlement are Coptic Christians.

The Zabaleen go door-to-door collecting garbage, before taking it back to “Garbage City” in donkey carts or trucks where the trash is sorted and organized into 16 different types of waste everyday.

The Zabaleen, who live in extremely impoverished conditions, have faced many challenges over the years threatening their livelihood.

In 2003, they found themselves sidelined after multinationals were awarded contracts for household waste collection by Cairo’s municipal authorities. Some Zabaleen saw as much as a 75 percent decrease in earnings as a result.

Then in 2009, the government ordered the culling of pigs used by the Zabaleen over fears of swine flu. Pigs had the important function of eating the organic waste and their meat also provided the Zabaleen with another source of income.

Despite these recent setbacks, the Zabaleen continue to provide an alternative system of garbage collection that has garnered respect from international quarters.

Tom Hanks Congratulates Egyptian Director on Movie 'CLASH'
Drone Captures Aerial Video of Egypt's Luxor Temple

Subscribe to our newsletter


Buzz
@SalmaIslam

Salma is British and used to work as a Political Consultant in London. She now lives in Cairo.

More in Buzz

Mohamed Salah: ‘We Need to Change the Way We Treat Women in Our Culture’

Egyptian StreetsApril 18, 2019

Mo Salah and Rami Malek Among TIME’s 2019 Most Influential 100!

Egyptian StreetsApril 17, 2019

Egypt’s First Polo Academy to Launch Its 3rd Annual Tournament This April

Mirna El SaiedApril 17, 2019

Five 90s Pop Songs That Changed Our Culture

ES BuzzApril 15, 2019

Egypt to Face Zimbabwe in the Opening of African Cup of Nations

Egyptian StreetsApril 13, 2019

In Pictures: Why You Should Visit Egypt’s White Desert This Year

Egyptian StreetsApril 8, 2019

Discovery Channel to Open Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus LIVE on TV

Egyptian StreetsApril 7, 2019

Memaar Al Morshedy Group Dicusses Innovation in the Real Estate Market Arab Conference at Harvard

Egyptian StreetsApril 4, 2019
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2017 Egyptian Streets. All Rights Reserved.