Circular economy and the possibility of its application in the Iraqi economy

Bushra Ashour Hachim1, Hafedh Abdulameer Ameen1
1 Al-Mustansiriya University, Economics and Administration College, Ирак, Багдад

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Экономические отношения (РИНЦ, ВАК)
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Том 11, Номер 1 (Январь-март 2021)

Bushra Ashour Hachim, Hafedh Abdulameer Ameen Circular economy and the possibility of its application in the Iraqi economy // Экономические отношения. – 2021. – Том 11. – № 1. – С. 39-64. – doi: 10.18334/eo.11.1.111537.

Эта статья проиндексирована РИНЦ, см.

The research is concerned with aspects of the circular economy as an industrial model based on the idea of recycling waste and benefiting from re-converting products and components to other raw materials and recycling them, which was reflected in dealing with the environment, not as a warehouse for waste but rather as an area to produce added value that contributes to innovation and growth and create jobs and reach environmental sustainability and long-term sustainable growth. The research dealt with the possibility of applying the circular economy in the Iraqi economy, which is described as a model for the linear economy based on the extractive industry, which drains the limited reserves of raw materials and consumes materials that end up in landfills or incinerators or throw them into rivers and their associated environmental repercussions to become an economic and environmental burden on man and society, hence the urgent need to embrace the circular economy not only to change the course of the linear economy, but also to take advantage of the advantages and opportunities that it achieves through waste management, which is to reduce environmental burdens, attract new sources of income, save costs and in line with the global trends of sustainability.

Ключевые слова: circular economy, waste recycling, industrial ecology, blue economy

JEL-классификация: N15, Q01, O53


Some researchers and specialists in developed countries have realized that the prevailing linear economy model based on the trilogy (extracting, manufacturing, dumping) has negative impacts, as it depletes greatly the natural resources and contributes to the deterioration of the environmental systems (air, water, land), which led them to strive to find an alternative economic model that is more compatible with nature, less harmful to nature, and thus more sustainable.

The result of this endeavor resulted in the emergence of a circular economy as an environmentally friendly model, working to increase the efficiency of resource use and reduce negative impacts on the environment, as it replaces the end of the product's life with renewal and turns it into renewable energy and extracts the maximum value from the product through design and innovation.

Research hypothesis

Applying the circular economy model will ensure optimal utilization of resources, energy and environment conservation and create job opportunities as strategic options for joining the leading countries in the field of sustainable development.

Research aims:

(1) Defining the importance of the circular economy and its role in achieving the sustainable development goals.

(2) Show the importance of the ecological industry in raising the efficiency and effectiveness of resources and rationalizing consumption.

(3) Evaluating the reality of the waste recycling industry in Iraq and ways to develop it.

(4) Highlighting the importance of countries ’orientation towards adopting the circular economy.

(5) Extracting the mechanisms that contribute to adopting the circular economy model.

Research problem

Waste, pollution and lack of recycling causes the world to lose a great economic resource and cause pollution of the land and marine environment, and with these problems, the laws imposed are not enough to limit the harmful effects to the minimum.

1. The first aspect: circular economy as a model for sustainable development

1.1. Transition from linear economy to circular economy

Mankind consumes more natural resources than it provides while continuing to adopt the linear economy model that arose in the Third Industrial Revolution. The world currently is not sustainable; environmental pollution and resource depletion continues.

The linear economy uses non-renewable raw materials to produce products, and after using the product it is automatically converted into waste. Where the materials used are not improved, the product life is not improved, and the waste generated is not reused, as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1. Linear economy model

Source: Jainguo Qi, Jinggxing Zhao, et al. (2016). Development of circular economy in China. Social Sciences Academic Press and Springer Science and Business Media, Singapore, p. 29.

According to the c-voucher organization that helps companies adopt technologies that lead to the integration of the circular economy), four main outcomes have been identified for the linear model illustrated in figure 2.

Figure 2. Main results of linear economy

Source: Zain Group thought leadership report, Kuwait, 2020. Including sustainable solutions in an effort to save the planet. TLR ARABIC (

The linear economy model known as cradle to grave contributes to environmental damage through the huge amount of waste generated, and the depletion of natural resources that represents a threat to the economic and social well-being represented by increasing the percentage of waste and pollution in general. Therefore, the specialists have worked to find appropriate solutions in order to achieve a quality of life that transcends the narrow concept of development as economic development only to become social development and self-development for individuals and development of the environment that surrounds them, taking into account the aspect of sustainability [1, p. 2] (Zakaria Naffah, Tayyeb Abdel Wahab, 2018, p. 2).

In fact, the effects of the production process that are reflected as external influences affect the quality of the ambient environment by compensating the welfare gains and contributing to the deterioration of the ambient environment through the environmental loss represented in the form of exhaust and waste that the production process leaves and represents a correlation between the economic value gain and economic value loss and environmental quality [2, p. 13], as shown in figure 3.

Figure 3. The relationship between environmental quality and products

Source: Helam Zawaya. The Role of Renewable Energy Economics in Achieving Sustainable Development in Moroccan Countries (A Comparative Study between Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia). Farhat Abbas University, Algeria, 2013, p. 11.

The solutions presented are in the form of search for a vital economy that aims to change the way you live by making the best possible use of products by recycling and re-extracting them in new forms and uses to serve both the economy and the environment. This allows to cover the aspects that contribute to achieving development, and help to achieve quality of life to indicate the general welfare of individuals and society [3, p. 11] (Halam Zawaya, 2013, p. 11).

I found the elements of this solution decades ago, but it did not combine in one conceptual framework until recently, and this framework is the circular economy, and there is no doubt that the circular economy is the economy of the future, as it carries with it an organized use of resources that takes into account climate and environmental changes and works to provide economic growth.

1.2. Circular economy – future economy

It may seem to the reader that the term circular economy is newly emerging internationally, but it appeared in the seventies of the twentieth century as it dates back to the year 1976, according to the Swiss researcher specializing in architecture (Walter Stahel) and he is one of the founders of this model and the author of (From the cradle to Cradle) published in 1982, in which it indicates that the circular economy has different goals from the production economy, in the sense that it works to preserve the value of products, inventory management, natural and human capital and the financial factory [4, p. 340] (Al-Rumaidi, Bassam Samir, 2018, p. 340).

However, the origin of the term circular economics was first mentioned in a book published in 1989 entitled (Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment) by its authors (David Pearce and R. Kerry Trums) [32, p. 221] (Atwi Basima, 2019, p. 221).

In the nineties, Chinese customers proposed a circular economy as a model to help China make better use of resources and energy, and since then the model has become an integral part of the national economic strategy and has been built upon throughout the last three five-year plans. The adoption of the 2008 law was a sign that China is a pioneer center in the circular economy legislation.

The World Economic Forum defines circular economy as (an industrial system that is restored or renewed by intention and design), it is a system that replaces the end of life (cradle to grave), and moves towards sustainable renewable energy and a return to the vital ambient [7, p. 211] (Wassila Saud, Farhat Abbas, 2019, p. 211).

While the French Energy and Environment Control Agency defined it as a system of exchange and production, which aims at all stages of the product’s life to increase the efficiency of resource use, and reduce impacts on the environment, Reducing resource waste in order to separate resource consumption from GDP growth, and to ensure environmental pollution is reduced, and prosperity increased, so as to ensure achieving more work better with less resource [9, p. 73] (Esposito Mark, Tse Terence, Soufani Khaled, 2018, p. 73). A circular economy is a model for the effective use of productive assets [10, p. 76].

The circular economy is a renewed industrial system based on the redesign and transformation towards the use of renewable energy, and avoids the use of harmful resources and the elimination of waste through the distinct design of resources, products and business models, as shown in figure 3 as follows.

Figure 3. Circular economy

Source: From the work of the researcher: relying on: Thought Leadership Report released by Zain Group, Kuwait, 2020. Incorporating sustainable solutions in an effort to save the planet. TLR ARABIC, Retrieved December 02, 2020, from (

Thus, the term circular economy includes a broader meaning than simply producing and consuming goods and services, as it includes a shift from fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy, and emphasizing the role of diversity as a feature of flexible and productive systems, as well as a discussion of the role of money and finance as part of a broader debate, as well as Some pioneers of this economy called for the renewal of economic measurement tools to accommodate the methodology and systems of circular economics [11, p. 5–19] (Kadhem, Mohammed Hussein, 2017, p. 5–19).

Circular economy can be defined as an industrial system that does not produce waste or pollute the environment, and is based on two basic ideas: the first the realization that any waste can be used as resources, and the second: the need to separate growth from the use of natural resources, and the goods produced within it is capable of repair and renewal since it is designed in a way that guarantees its utilization several times, i.e. within a closed loop (re-using commodity waste as resources or inputs), which leads to a more effective and efficient use of resources [12, p. 345] (Al-Hassan, Fathia Muhammad, 2010, p. 345).

The circular economy is an industrial economic system that relies on the use of products and raw materials and the ability to replenish resources. It also works to reduce value destruction in the overall system and maximize value at every stage of the system. The shift from linear economy to circular economy requires an ecological culture, environmental awareness, modification of attitudes and behaviors, and changing consumption patterns. Many European Union countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Finland have made future plans for the circular economy, and work to implement the principles of circular economy represented by the following [13, p. 345] (Al-Rawi, Sateh Mahmoud, and Taha Ahmad Al-Tayyar, 2012, p. 345):

(1) Preserving and enhancing natural capital by controlling the limited stocks as well as balancing the flows of renewable resources.

(2) Improving the return on resources by recycling the waste (products, components, and materials) at the highest benefit.

(3) The effectiveness of systems by detecting negative externalities.

The institutions tend to implement circular work systems that can not only achieve sustainability, but also create a competitive advantage, and move towards a more circular economic model that is one of the pillars of the European Union 2020 strategy, as the European Union proposes to define a major goal for material productivity which is the measure of the value generated per unit of Raw materials or products based on GDP, and a percentage of raw material consumption, 30% will be set by 2030. The package includes a legislative proposal to recycle packaging waste and prohibit any landfill of products and recyclable materials [14, p. 55] (Sayed, Ashour Ahmed, 2006, p. 55).

The concept of circular economy may not be widely circulated in developing countries, but it has become entrenched in many economies of developed countries, and a model that more than one Arab country is preparing to take to contribute to achieving sustainable growth, human values ​​and quality of life.

1.3. Waste recycling is an introduction to the circular economy

Waste has become one of the most important sources of income that European countries depend on, as several studies have shown over the past years some of these countries have directed towards importing waste to enter it in the production process, so waste has become a product in itself sold and bought, and a basis for exchange after it was known as each substance or object whose economic value is zero or negative for its owner, and this concept was considered a significant part of the recyclable waste that has an economic value [15, p. 155] (Abdul Karim, Banod, 2008, p. 155).

The idea of ​​waste recycling began during the First and Second World War, where countries suffered from a severe shortage of some basic materials such as rubber, which prompted them to collect these materials from waste for reuse, and after several years the recycling process became one of the most important methods for waste disposal due to the Environmental benefits for this process. For several years, recycling was carried out directly through the producers of waste materials, which is the basic form of recycling [16, p. 259] (Al-Saadani, Abdel-Rahman, and Thanaa Meligi Odeh, 2008, p. 259).

And with the beginning of the nineties began focusing on indirect recycling, that is, the manufacture of waste materials to produce other products that depend on the same raw material, such as recycling of glass, paper, plastic, aluminum and other materials that are recycled [17, p. 338].

With regard to waste, it differs from one country to another in terms of quantity and quality, according to the characteristics of society and its circumstances and the different consumption and behavioral patterns in it, and the different levels of income, development and economic growth, where we find that industrialized countries, especially the United States of America, are at the forefront of producing waste in terms of quantity.

The concept of waste refers linguistically to residuals that are abandoned because they are not usable or consumed, and the World Health Organization has defined them as (some of the things that the owner does not want because they are not important or valuable) [18, p. 26], and waste is also known as (residues of human activity in his daily life such as paper, organic materials, metals, glass, etc., and that waste increases in developing countries, especially in the case of population inflation) [19, p. 225] (Mohamed Ismail, Mutasem, 2015, p. 225), the main classification of waste follows the activity that generates this waste, which is used via domestic, municipal, industrial, agricultural, and health care and medical waste, and this is known as the primary classification, on the other hand, the secondary classification of waste is used when targeting its nature, and may use the term liquid, solid and gaseous waste, and hazardous waste i.e. waste that causes diseases and toxic waste [20, p. 246] (Al-Asaad, Muhammad Mustafa, 2000, p. 246).

In the countries of the European Union, it is noted that the volume of waste production per unit of GDP is witnessing a continuous decline, which indicates the ability of the European economy (i.e. the economy of the European Union member states combined) to produce more wealth and at the same time reduce the volume of waste generated from various economic activities [21, p. 15] (Ropert Goodland, 1987, p. 15), as shown in table 1.

Table 1

Waste production in the European Union and the trend towards a circular economy

Waste production excluding metallic waste / per unit of GDP (kg per 1,000 days)
Waste production (excluding metallic waste) according to local consumption of materials, %
The rate of circular use of materials is % of the total use of materials
Source: Wassila Saud, Farhat Abbas. (2019). Waste management as an introduction to the circular economy, Presentation of the case of the European Union, Journal of Economic and Financial Research, Volume VI, First Issue, University of Oum El Bouaghi, Algeria, p. 89.

The European Union countries seek to import waste in order to include it in recycling operations, and the data in table 2 shows that the volume of imports between the country members in the European Union has increased from 2004 to 2006 to remain stable until 2018 at 50 million tons over the period 2004–2018, and it is noted that the recycling of raw materials between member states exceeds the value of both the value of imports and exports of the European Union with the rest of the world. This indicates the high and improved efficiency of the performance rates of the circular economy in the European Union, which shows the total volume of materials that are recycled for further use [22, p. 90] (Hasan, Ahmed Ibrahim Abdel-Al, 2018, p. 90).

Table 2

The volume of trade exchanges in recyclable raw materials in the European Union for the period 2004–2018

Unit = million tons
Imports outside the European Union
Exports outside the European Union
Imports between European Union countries
Source: from the researchers' work, relying on: Wassila Saud, Farhat Abbas. (2019). Waste Management as an Introduction to Circular Economy, Presentation of the State of the European Union, Journal of Economic and Financial Research, Volume VI, First Issue, Umm Al-Bouaghi University, Algeria, p. 90

In the Arab Gulf, studies confirm that the per capita solid waste is among the highest in the world, at an average of 15% annually, Saudi Arabia’s share of which is 60% of the total solid waste in the region, which is waste that includes huge amounts of minerals and materials that can be recycled and sold [23, p. 64] (Al-Sayed, Zaki Muhammad, 2000, p. 64).

Emirates Aluminum co. managed to recycle more than 102 thousand tons of waste in 2018, ahead of its performance in 2017, when it recycled 26 thousand tons of waste [24, p. 11]. The application of circular economy standards is expected to contribute to reducing accumulated waste and reducing Air pollution due to reducing the amount of energy needed by the industrial production process in converting raw materials into usable products, and contributing to reducing environmental pollution and achieving the goals of sustainable development.

2. The second aspect: the circular economy in light of sustainable development

2.1. Sustainable development / its concept / goals

The concept of sustainable development was first mentioned in the report of the World Committee for Environment and Development in 1987, and the report defined this development as (that development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs) [25, p. 83] (Jalaluddin Yassin, Shahd, 2015, p. 83).

And in the nineties of the twentieth century sustainable development became one of the major concerns of governments as a mean to achieve justice in the distribution of wealth between different generations, and a tool to address the different and growing problems of individuals such as poverty, stagnation, unemployment, social inequality and environmental pollution [26, p. 42].

The sustainable development paradigm is a complex, multidimensional process that combines equity and efficiency between generations in the economic, social and environmental aspects [27, p. 22].

The environmental aspect defines sustainable development as the use of renewable natural resources in a manner that does not lead to their destruction, degradation, or diminishing capabilities for future generations, while maintaining a steady and non-decreasing balance of natural resources [28, p. 36] (Lester Brown R., 2003, p. 36).

As for the economic aspect, development is defined as the best management to achieve the maximum benefits of economic development, provided that the quality of resources is preserved and used without harming real income in the future [29, p. 10] Saber, Muhammad, 2006, p. 10).

While the social aspect identified sustainable development as the process that provides material and qualitative conditions for the lives of individuals and building individual capabilities through increasing attention to health and education, reducing poverty, providing employment opportunities, and achieving equality and equal opportunities [30, p. 24] (Al-Ansari, Naeem Muhammad Ali, 2009, p. 24).

The 17 sustainable development goals demonstrate their aspirations to continue the course of the Millennium Development Goals and achieve what was not achieved within their framework. These goals achieve a balance between the three economic and social dimensions and the environmental dimension, including the circular economy represented by the following [31, p. 88]:

Third goal: To ensure that everyone can enjoy healthy lifestyles and luxury at all ages.

Sixth Goal: Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation services

Seventh Goal: Ensure that everyone has affordable access to sustainable energy services.

Eighth goal: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and job creation.

Ninth Goal: To stimulate industrialization, encourage innovation, and build resilient infrastructures.

Twelfth Objective: To ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Fourteenth Goal: Conserve and use the oceans, seas and marine resources in a sustainable manner.

Although the development goals are not legally binding, it is expected that governments will take the initiative and set national frameworks for the purpose of achieving them.

2.2. The circular economy and achieving the sustainable development goals

The flexibility of the circular economy and its ability to adapt help in addressing the multiple sustainable development goals identified by the United Nations. According to the concept of circular economy, it achieves the goals of sustainable development itself. In essence, the circular economy embodies the sustainable development approach, and adds value through synergy with it, which means combining multiple methods for a single coherent strategy through a set of sustainable and influencing concepts that the circular economy deals with. They are as follows [32, p. 119] (Atwi Basima, 2019, p. 119):

(1) A cradle-to-cradle philosophy.

(2) Simulating nature and industrial ecology.

(3) Blue Economy.

(1) Philosophy of from cradle to cradle

The philosophy (cradle to cradle) is a principle formulated by the economist (Walter Stahel), to contradict the principle (cradle to grave), which expresses the way the dominant linear economy works from resources to waste, and aims to extend the life of Commodities, reuse, repair and upgrading of industrial technology as it applies to industrial economies.

This guarantees sustainable management and efficient use of resources or natural resources by reducing the per capita share of global food waste, at the level of retail places and consumers, by half and reducing food losses in the production stages as well as losses after harvest [33, p. 9] (Al-Izzu Ammar Muhammad, p. 9).

Achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle in accordance with the agreed international frameworks, significantly reducing their release into air, water and soil in order to minimize their harmful effects on human health and the environment, and significantly reduce waste production through recycling and use [34, p. 2].

(2) Simulation of nature and industrial ecology

It is concerned with studying resource and energy flows through industrial systems with a view to generating closed circular systems, as waste is seen as an unwanted input or side product, and this idea is seen as a science of sustainability [35, p. 63–64].

UNIDO is one of the most prominent international organizations that dealt with the circular economy directly, as UNIDO departments for energy and environment participated in international forums to provide scientific means for member states in introducing the concept of circular economy in their economies in general and their industrial processes in particular [36, p. 44].

The transformation from linear to circular economics provides broad potential for achieving long-term sustainable development in the fields of (energy, environment, industry, and innovation) where we find in the energy field that there is an increasing interest in many countries to produce fuel from waste (city waste, agricultural waste, Industrial) dozens of factories are currently being working for this purpose, for example in the United States of America factories work to produce energy from waste in the turbine to generate electric power and the operation of heating devices as the heat of 2 tons of waste is equal to 1 ton of coal [37, p. 143].

The process consists of converting garbage into biogas and organic fertilizer and converting a portion of the organic carbon in the waste into a flammable gas. The amount of biogas from waste was calculated according to the lowest standards of fermentation to reward 91 cubic meters of biogas per ton of waste [38, p. 351].

The researchers were able to access a set of technologies that convert biomass wastes into animal feed, organic fertilizers and industrial chemicals shown in table 3, which reviews some examples of technologies used in recycling waste.

Table 3

Examples of technologies used in recycling

Bio waste
The technique used
the use
Grain waste (bran and grinding waste)
Physical and chemical treatments for concentrated feed production
concentrated feed for the herd
Olive waste (pruning and kernel residue)
Drying, crushing, screening, and physical and chemical treatments
Animal feed for drought times, a resource for energy, and food for the animal
Orange, tomato, grape, barley, tree pruning and poultry waste
Screening, grinding, fermentation and molds
Concentrated feed for the production of meat during times of drought, for the purpose of organic fertilization, and a source of energy
Palm trees waste (dates, kernel and fronds)
Milling and preservation as grains
Fodder for animal feeding in oasis areas, concentrated fodder for sheep and goats, and for making paper and wood
Residues of prickly pear and marine plants
Use as organic fertilizers and grain preservation
Animal feed and compost production
Source: The League of Arab States, The Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, A study of recycling agricultural waste for industrial and domestic uses in the Arab countries, Sudan, 2006, p. 40.

Industrialists have found that if recycling programs are taken seriously, they can help reduce the cost of raw materials and operating costs and improve the environmental footprint.

The economic return resulting from the application of recycling of solid waste helps in reducing the rates of environmental pollution resulting from burning waste and emitting carbon gases and other gases that may contribute to the increase in global warming, thus increasing temperatures on the surface of the earth and the emergence of black clouds [39, p. 263]. Table 4 shows the default content of fossil and biodegradable carbon from industrial waste.

Table 4

The default content of fossil and organic carbon that is degradable from industrial waste /% of the produced wet waste

Organic carbon
Fossil carbon
Total carbon
Water content
Food, beverages and tobacco
Wood and its products
Bulbs and paper
Petroleum and plastic products
Construction and demolition
Source: (2006). IPCC Life Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, Volume 5, Waste, p. 16, Retrieved December 22, 2020, from

3. Blue Economy

It is a term coined by the Belgian businessman (Gonter Pauly) through an official report that included a number of studies,

The blue economy includes new sectors at the international level, thus integrating the concept of the blue economy in global agendas gradually and since the Rio Conference in 1992 to be strengthened after the adoption of a plan in 2019 through Goal No. 14 to achieve sustainable development [40, p. 5–6].

The blue economy includes new sectors with high growth potentials such as the aquaculture sector, the eco-tourism sector, the vital marine products sector and the shipbuilding sector.

At the global level, the blue economy is an essential engine for economic and social development through the seas and oceans sector, which is considered an engine for economic growth because it provides about 5.4 million jobs and creates an added value estimated at 500 million Euros annually [31, p. 3].

United Nations Environmental Reports have confirmed that resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970, and has led to an increase in consumption patterns and annual production, which has caused global greenhouse gas emissions to rise, and threat of biological diversity, and the increase in water stress, which necessitates the transition from a linear economy to a circular economy [11, p. 31].

The circular economy has received the attention of the world in recent years, as it increases the added value and profits, and achieves sustainable development, as it is possible to provide globally nearly one trillion dollars annually by the year 2025, and create 100 thousand new job opportunities within five years according to the statistics of the World Economic Forum, and the Alan Makarther Foundation [21, p. 22].

3. The third aspect: the possibility of applying the circular economy in the Iraqi economy

Despite the circumstances that Iraq is going through, which are represented by security and environmental challenges and the economic crisis especially, and the world is going through the health crisis represented by the Corona epidemic, but Iraq can go towards a circular economy as it is qualified for this launch, especially since the Iraqi Ministry of Environment strives to implement its tasks in preserving the environment and prepares National strategies to protect the environment in Iraq because it is reflected on all aspects of health, social and economic life. Iraq is qualified to go towards a circular economy, especially as raw materials are available and solid waste is available and in thousands of tons per day, which can be exploited and recycled for use either in energy or in industrial products, whether paper or Chemical fertilizers and more.

3.1. Solid Waste Disposal in Iraq

Iraq suffers from a large increase in solid waste produced annually, but the world has not kept pace with the issue of moving towards a circular economy in waste recycling management starting from the process of collecting, transporting, sorting, treating and recycling, as Iraq lacks clear plans and strategies in how to deal with these waste and environmental pollution Consequent from it, as huge amounts of waste accumulated in most Iraqi governorates, whether in random assembly sites or in transformation stations that do not conform to environmental specifications as well as random informal landfills and where the burning phenomenon is widespread, leading to the loss of an important economic resource that can be exploited during its recycling, the following table 5 shows the number of sanitary landfill sites in the Iraqi governorates except for the Kurdistan Region [33, p. 139].

Table 5

Landfill sites that obtain environmental approvals and sites

that did not obtain approvals

Approved sites
Sites without approval
Al Muthanna
Dhi Qar
Source: The Iraqi Ministry of Environment, The State of the Environment in Iraq Report 2016, available on the official website of the Ministry of Environment, Iraq 2016, p. 139.

3.2. Municipal services and the amount of solid waste in Iraq

The municipal services sector in Iraq suffers from many problems, including the limited number of machinery trucks (pressers) that work in the field of municipal waste, whether to collect or transport them, as well as the lack of financial allocations for the implementation of service projects and the lack of health awareness among citizens and not obligating them to move the waste, which leads to accumulation in other than the places allocated to it, which affects the aesthetic of cities and the Iraqi environment.

The number of sorting and recycling plants during the year 2018 reached 4 plants in Baghdad, two of which are under construction, one on the Rusafa side and the other on the side of Karkh. There is a plant in the Al-Mahmoudiyah district on the outskirts of Baghdad and it works for a period of 121 days only per year as the amount Recycled reached 65 tons per day, at 7,955 tons annually, i.e. 10% of the amount of waste. There is also a single laboratory in Dhi Qar Governorate, but it is out of work [35, p. 10], and table 6 shows the amount of waste raised and generated for each individual in the provinces of Iraq for the year 2018.

Table 6

The amount of generated and generated waste for each individual by governorate for the year 2018

The usual waste collected one thousand tons / year
The usual waste collected is one thousand tons / day
Average amount generated per capita kg / day
Al Qadisiyah
Dhi Qar
Source: From the work of researchers based on: Ministry of Planning, Central Statistical Organization, Environmental Statistics for Iraq, Municipal Services Sector for the year 2018, Iraq, 2018, p. 10.

It is clear from the table 6 that the largest amount of waste received was in the governorate of Baghdad, which amounted to about 2,865.4 thousand tons, i.e. it approached 3 million tons annually, followed by Basra, where it reached about 802.6 thousand tons, then Nineveh, where it reached about 776.3 thousand tons, We find that the rate of waste generated by each individual in both Anbar and Saladin was high compared to the rest of the provinces and the reason is the high accumulated waste in the previous period due to the return of the population to their areas after the elimination of ISIS.

3.3. The importance of the issue of waste in national plans in Iraq

The National Plan for 2013–2017 has paid great attention in the field of the environment, and its vision number (7–3) stated : the movement towards adopting (a green Iraqi economy based on the settlement of environmental policies as an integral part of the macroeconomic policies leading to sustainable growth) This is the essence of the circular economy.

Whereas, the sixth objective of the national plan for this vision adopted the development of the waste management system and its improvement through the following:

(1) Developing an integrated system for regular, non-hazardous waste and by engaging the private sector with the public in projects for recycling municipal waste and providing detailed data with a road map in the field of waste management as well as developing monitoring performance, unifying the monitoring system and environmental surveying within one institutional framework.

(2) An advanced management system for hazardous waste, which requires the provision of an institutional and administrative system that supports the process of waste management, technology, technical and legal, and the establishment of landfill sites for hazardous waste that are within environmental specifications, in addition to issuing appropriate legislation and specifying mechanisms for dealing with this hazardous waste.

3.4. A roadmap for moving towards a circular economy

For the purpose of moving towards a circular economy, solutions must be found to the problems related to the linear economy first, and to develop a comprehensive national strategic plan that can be implemented and interdependently of all sectors of Iraqi society secondly, provided that this plan is feasible with the provision of the necessary funding for it and its implementation under the supervision of personnel that have efficiency and integrity in implementation for Establishing projects for waste recycling starting from the collection process and ending with treatment and recycling to benefit from them in industrial and agricultural projects, which will be reflected positively on all social, economic and environmental levels and will provide energy and production in the best possible manner and with minimal exploitation of resources and will provide an important financial resource for the public budget through the actual trend towards the circular economy,

This shift from linear to circular economy in Iraq needs, first of all, the culture of officials in conscious dealing with accumulated waste to implement a clear plan to collect them on a daily basis and find collection sites and then create their own recycling plants with the involvement of the public and private sectors, Not only for the purpose of disposing of waste, but by utilizing it to be a source of wealth that is parallel to other wealth existing in the country as well as making use of it as a source of electric energy through processing it in special projects to convert it into biofuels, and therefore we will get rid of unhealthy and irregular landfills that affect health and the environment and will consequently reflect positively on the aesthetics of cities, decreasing pandemics and diseases, and we will protect the environment from pollution, and provide an important economic resource through the production of raw and industrial materials, fertilizers and biofuels, so feasibility studies should be prepared in this regard after collecting the necessary data based on realistic studies to determine technical specifications and classification of waste according to the source and sorting it at home and ending with treatment and recycling, provided that there is health and environmental awareness through the media to educate citizens and provide special containers for waste sorting accompanied by finding the necessary funding for them and taking legal procedures and special legislation and educating citizens about the means of collection and sorting of waste and not distorting aesthetic features the cities .


(1) The transition to a circular economy model is necessary to achieve the goals of sustainable development, as there are not enough economic materials to maintain the growth of the global economy on the basis of the linear system, which provides an opportunity to address the constraints of individual resources and establishes a more fair and comprehensive economic system.

(2) There is no 100% circular economy, but this does not mean that the economy must be linear. In the current linear economy, waste is recycled to reduce the extraction of raw materials and energy production, reduce waste and pollution and change business models from production to service and energy through the economy and demand for new products.

(3) The circular economy model is an effective solution because it addresses the root cause of waste management challenges, especially since most economies (including Iraq) are based on linear economics, and this is only achieved through efforts and coordination with all stakeholders to move to circular models.

(4) The limited waste recycling in Iraq has made its management limited to the collection and transportation of waste, especially the municipality, from the source to the open landfill sites that do not meet the technical standards due to poor management and the lack of mechanical, human and financial capabilities, and prevented them from being used as a valuable economic resource.


(1) Spreading societal and environmental awareness of the importance of household waste sorting so that municipal authorities and specialized projects can benefit from them and employ them economically, and this can only be achieved through visual and audio media institutions. And coordination with state institutions and civil society organizations, holding seminars, conferences and workshops, and benefiting from international experiences in this regard as an indication of civilization and citizenship.

(2) Motivating private sector investors to enter waste recycling projects to create profitable opportunities and open new markets for their products.

(3) Encouraging the use of scientific methods in dealing with the waste problem in Iraq by safe and beneficial disposal of waste such as recycling or reuse (recycle) or burning in addition to fermenting organic materials so they are buried in sanitary landfills to become gardens, and when methane gas decomposes it can be used as a biofuel.

(4) Expanding industries based on solid waste to produce organic fertilizers, fodder from pulp, industrial wood and biofuels through the collection, transportation and treatment of the remaining solid waste beside the municipal waste such as agricultural waste.

(5) Benefiting from the experiences of developed countries (especially the European Union) in terms of the administrative, legal and financing systems that govern the waste management system in those countries, and selecting and implementing what works for them in Iraq.

(6) Directing the use of waste to generate energy in sanitary landfills and places where municipal waste is collected for use in electric and gas power generation.


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