by Hana Namrouqa – Feb 16,2016

A pickup truck carries items scavenged from garbage containers in Amman (File photo)

AMMAN — Scavengers digging through trash bins in Amman are driving away millions of dinars of potential investments in the capital’s waste collection and segregation, a municipal official said on Tuesday.

Waste picking is no longer practised by the needy but rather by people who have turned the practice into an organised profession, Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) spokesperson, Izzedin Shammout, said.

“Every scavenger has his own territory or street. It is a trade nowadays. They dig out trash, tip over containers and leave waste lying across the street, which causes health and environmental hazards and clogs the streets’ drainage systems,” he told The Jordan Times over the phone.

The municipal official underscored that scavenging is scaring off potential investors in waste collection and recycling, stressing that investors demand that the municipality address scavenging before they agree to invest in the capital’s waste management.

“GAM tried to attract scavengers to work as street cleaners or to work at the landfills’ waste segregation points, but they refused. They are living off scavenging and generating JD1,000-1,200 from selling glass, plastic, copper or iron to factories,” he said.

Shammout said the municipality is currently working on addressing the phenomenon.

“Scavengers are violators. We are currently looking into amending the municipal law to draw up strict penalties against trash diggers,” he added.

GAM workers collect some 3,000 tonnes of garbage every day, officials have said.
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