Hurghada is the capital of the Red Sea governorate, a coastal governorate bestowed with some of the world’s most diverse and exquisite reef systems, leaving its economy almost entirely based on tourism. With the exponential growth in tourism in the country and governorate over the last two decades, Hurghada has grown from a small coastal town made up of a small administrative centre, a fishing village, and less than a handful of touristic facilities; to a fully-fledged bustling city hosting 150 hotels, a resident population estimated to be in the range of 300,000 people, with a projected annual population increase of 9.8%; in addition to an estimated 3 million tourists every year, on average producing more than 450 tons of waste a day.

This rapid rate of development of the city greatly outmatched the rate of the establishment of sufficient infrastructure and services provision; most notably in the sector of solid waste management. Of the average 450 tons of waste produced, it is estimated than less than half of this quantity actually reaches the designated landfill; the remainder is left piling up along the streets of Hurghada and blowing into valleys and the marine environment. Several reasons are given in order to explain the poor status of the municipal SWM program. A lack of financial and human resources as well as organisational inefficiency within municipal bodies are said to cause a lot of trouble. Transportation arrangements are generally inadequate due to the unavailability of proper vehicles as well as the low productivity of the personnel. There are also policy gaps that have not been addressed (e.g. to desist people from throwing garbage in public areas).

HEPCA commenced the first phase of solid waste management in Hurghada on the 10th February 2011. The first phase entails waste collection from the entire city, HEPCA has committed to assume responsibility for waste collection in Hurghada until 2016; during this period HEPCA aims to expand its activities to encompass a comprehensive solid waste management system; that includes everything from material recovery, to recycling, to proper disposal and potentially the collection of landfill gas and electricity generation.

Community participation in SWM is the key to a sustainable and integrated project. The aim is to get as many local actors as possible to participate and actively contribute to the project. Most importantly, we want to create a feeling of ownership for the project among the citizens, whose waste is managed and whose local environment is improved by the project.

The management plan set up for the administration of Hurghada’s solid waste, was customized to the precise needs of the city of Hurghada taking into consideration the different district structures, population densities and socioeconomic standards and remained conscious to the future growth of Hurghada. The initial launch of activities took place in February of 2010 with a small pilot project .

The collection of Hurghada’s waste is only the first phase of the management scheme; the latter phases shall entail the establishment of a material recovery facility and a series of recycling factories. Potentially there are many types of material recovery facilities ranging from those based upon manual segregation to those which are fully automated; while recycling facilities can be established for a wide range of products.

The establishment of a carbon development project (CDM) is part of the long-term goals of the project. The construction of a biogas electricity generation system can potentially fuel a significant of Hurghada’s power requirements while significantly reducing Hurghada’s carbon emissions. Potentially the reduction of the tourism sector’s carbon footprint can make the industry carbon neutral.

The management system shall also expand geographically in order to insure that the entire Egyptian Red Sea coast is protected from the highly destructive threat posed by mismanaged solid waste.