Between 2016 and 2019, Morocco imported approximately 1.6 million tons of waste.
The ministry made the announcement in an explanatory notice after several local NGOs denounced ministerial decisions 1339.20 and 1340.20, relating to the importing of waste.
Decision 1339.20 provides a list of toxic waste materials that Morocco cannot import. Meanwhile, decision 1340.20 relates to the conditions and methods of importing waste.
The ministry began its note by expressing thanks to the NGOs that reacted to the legal texts for their environmental awareness.
“We confirm our need for a strong and effective engagement from environmental NGOs and our readiness to provide all necessary explanations,” the document said.
The government department assured that Morocco is committed to never importing any toxic or hazardous waste that does not meet the requirements set in Law 28.00. The legal text, issued on December 7, 2006, relates to waste management in Morocco.
Long-established, ‘regulated’ practice
The notice explained that Morocco has been importing “non-toxic” and “non-hazardous” waste for several years and using it in several manufacturing industries.
Between 2016 and 2019, Morocco imported approximately 1.6 million tons of waste, the ministry revealed.
The waste represents “raw material for energy and industry [sectors], such as textile, plastic, paper, and metal.”
The ministry said global companies “fiercely compete” to purchase waste and Morocco “only receives a small part of it.” Green economy is quickly evolving, the notice explained.
Responding to the concerns of NGOs regarding the recent ministerial decisions, the ministry explained that the legal texts only organize waste imports and do not authorize them, since they have already been authorized for several years.
Morocco only imports “useful” waste because domestic waste “does not meet the national demand,” the ministry stressed.
On the other hand, Morocco exports waste that cannot be locally recycled, such as industrial oils, toxic metals, and solvents.
Between 2016 and 2019, the country exported 11,600 tons of waste, the ministry revealed.
In the end, the notice emphasized that waste imports are subject to a series of requirements and conditions, most notably having no negative impact on the environment. Decree 02.07.253, issued on July 18, 2008, lists all the requirements.
In addition to the legal text, the ministry has in place a “very strict” protocol that includes a series of safety measures. The measures include a financial guarantee from importing companies, as well as scientific tests on the imported waste, the notice concluded.
Italian waste ‘scandal’
In July 2016, Moroccans were outraged after a cement company in Casablanca burned 2,500 tons of Italian waste. The incident led Morocco’s government to temporarily suspend the importation of foreign waste onto Moroccan soil.
Responding to the outrage of Moroccans, then-Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi pledged in a press conference to “end the issue once and for all.”
The Moroccan official put the blame on the company that burned the waste, saying the import operation did not respect the country’s laws.
“An investigation is underway scrutinizing every single thing related to the issue of importing waste from abroad,” El Khalfi said.
A few days before El Khalfi’s press conference, the former Delegate Minister of the Environment, Hakima El Haite, said Morocco imports 450,000 tons of foreign waste every year.
The imported waste, however, is subject to strict regulations, she claimed.