07 Jun 2020 Story Chemicals & waste

Transforming Tunisia’s Chemicals and Waste Management

Photo by Unsplash/ @christian80gabi

Chemicals and waste management is a pressing issue in Tunisia. The Mediterranean country produces over 2.5 million tonnes of rubbish each year, with wastewater treatment plants expelling an additional 247 million cubic meters of wastewater annually into the Mediterranean and inland waterways. Tunisia has in recent years stepped up efforts to confront this challenge, providing national workshops on waste management, improving the  treatment and disposal of healthcare waste, and ratifying international treaties like the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. However, the country still faces some significant hurdles in tackling this issue.

To support Tunisia’s efforts in confronting this problem, UNEP’s Chemicals and Waste Management Programme is partnering with the country to fund an exciting three-year project to strengthen Tunisia’s regulatory and institutional framework in the management of hazardous wastes and chemicals. Tunisia will also work to provide assistance to companies licensed by the Ministry in charge of the Environment for the management of hazardous wastes.

The project’s first key task is the development and implementation of a prevention program to reduce the health and environmental impacts of hazardous waste and chemicals. Spearheaded by the Project Management Unit, Tunisia will develop policy and procedures for the prevention of environmental pollution, assist industrial companies to develop a chemicals management tracking system, and conduct oversight activities to ensure chemical management and pollution prevention programs are fully implemented, among other activities.

Tunisia will then work to support companies licensed by the environment ministry in their management of waste, particularly healthcare waste, mineral oil lubricants, and electronic waste. To this end, the country will be conducting an inventory-gap analysis that will identify the needs of these companies to improve the handling, storage, transporting, treating and disposing of hazardous wastes, including the development of a database to facilitate the tracking of hazardous waste in Tunisia.

To ensure the project truly transforms Tunisia’s waste management at an institutional level, the country will also work to strengthen the capacity of the directorate in charge of risk prevention within the Ministry of Environment. This will involve a review and analysis of current laws and regulations in relation to hazardous chemicals and waste management, as well as an assessment of government resources and capacity to oversee, enforce and implement existing laws. Based on this analysis, Tunisia will present proposals for improving both policy and programming in this area, such as public-private partnerships, online monitoring systems for chemical movements, and drafting guidelines for the environmentally sound management of chemical and hazardous waste at the industry level.

The project will conclude by launching a program of awareness raising and capacity building for the benefit of key stakeholders, in particular national institutions concerned with managing hazardous wastes and chemicals, as well as key players in the industrial sector (both public and private companies), citizens and NGOs. This program will consist of elaborating training modules, training trainers and organizing workshops on revised or new regulation.

Through these key activities, Tunisia will work to transform how chemicals and wastes are managed by the government, the private sector and across Tunisian society. The project aims to see environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and chemicals become an integral and sustainable part of public policy. This will ensure that future generations of Tunisians will enjoy a healthy environment for many years to come.