Moroccan Recycling Program Runs into the Same Sorting Problem

If you don’t know a whole lot about recycling in Morocco, know this: the northern African nation is certainly not a hotbed of recycling innovation and technology. In fact, recycling is almost entirely unheard of there. However, things are changing. There are now serious efforts underway to recycle organic material. It is just that operators are running into the same sorting problem that plagues recycling in this country.

A small number of emerging Moroccan businesses have shown the rest of the country that recycling can work if it’s cost-effective. Right now, organic waste from farms and factories is being recycled and turned into compost. But guess what? Household organic waste is not being touched. It continues to go to landfills and incinerators.

Combining Wood and Manure

Morocco’s emerging recycling program combines manure and other organic waste from farms with similar waste from local factories. The factory waste is largely wood pulp and other wood materials. It is all combined and turned into compost.

The mixture is very effective at producing compost due to how the different materials interact. Bacteria from the manure help to break down the organic material over time. Meanwhile, the wood is absorbent enough to capture any odors of decomposition. Thus, there is no foul odor emanating from the huge compost fields that serve as a recycling factory, of sorts.

Officials say that they are not even bothering with organic household waste. Why? Because household waste requires sorting, and sorting costs money. It is just not cost-effective to collect household waste and attempt to compost it. So instead, recyclers are happy to obtain their material from farms and factories.

Just Like Plastic

Organic material recycling in Morocco is very similar to plastic recycling here in the States. Companies like Seraphim Plastics are more than happy to collect and recycle industrial plastic waste from factories, machine shops, industrial operations, and so forth. We don’t collect household recyclables.

When we pick up a load of plastic pallets for recycling, that’s all we are getting in that load. Nothing has to be separated. The pallets can go right from our truck to industrial grinders that reduce them to a material known as ‘regrind’. After the regrind is run through a series of filters to remove foreign objects, it is ready for sale.

We industrial plastic recyclers wouldn’t be able to make a decent profit if we had to separate plastics beforehand. This is exactly why we don’t collect household plastics. It is why we require industrial plastics to be presorted prior to pick up.

There Has to Be Money in It

Perhaps the harshest reality in all of this is that companies will not bother recycling if they cannot make a profit. Simply put, there has to be money in it. If the Moroccan companies now recycling industrial and agricultural waste suddenly found that doing so was a losing proposition, they would stop doing it. Likewise, industrial plastic recyclers in the U.S. would close up shop if they weren’t making a profit.

The altruistic among us may believe that we should recycle everything because it’s the right thing to do. That may be true, but it is also not realistic. You cannot take economics out of the equation for the simple fact that nothing in life is free. Someone has to pay to cover the cost of recycling. And if it’s not the private sector, then it’s taxpayers.

Certain forms of recycling are financially lucrative while others are not. Those in the former group work well because the private sector is motivated by profit. Like it or not, that’s reality.