03 Aug 2018
Amman, Jordan
Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Waste Management

In Jordan, a countrywide recycling program doesn’t exist, so much of the 2 million tons of waste produced every year is thrown in the trash. In fact, less than 10% of all garbage produced is recycled, an issue the Jordanian government is working on, with plans of putting a recycling program in place by 2034. But some people are trying to reduce, reuse and recycle far ahead of that goal, with one entrepreneur going as far as collecting trash from the street and turning it into products he can sell.

Deep in a garage in a neighborhood in Jordan, Omar Abu Nowar sits in his workshop. It’s in this small space where he builds something new out of the old. His hands craft anything from furniture to chairs, to an intricately carved wooden pipe, all refurbished and upcycled from trash.

“Our goal is to help people know more about the importance of taking care of nature and connecting people with nature,” Abu Nowar says, “We try to involve the community even though recycling is not a big thing in Jordan.”

Abu Nowar didn’t start out with the goal of helping the environment by upcycling trash. He went to the German Jordanian University in Germany, where he studied Logistical Science, then immediately got a job at an express mail company called TNT Express in Jordan. He knew that the population in Jordan was on schedule to double in 10 years, putting even more strain on the country’s natural resources. So, he decided to leave his fledgling career in logistics to start his own tiny business with only the money in his pocket.

PRAKTI was established on a small budget to show that money cannot hinder us to do good,” he says. “Through seeing what we do, we hope to inspire people to start living sustainably and create sustainable projects.”

The development of PRAKTI:

PRAKTI began with almost no budget, so Abu Nowar relied on social media to reach people in Amman. He’d post pictures of the items he made on Facebook and Instagram, and people started to reach out to him with ideas and items for him to upcycle.

He also wandered the streets, asking neighbors if they had anything they were throwing away.

“This is a new concept; not many people are familiar with recycling in Jordan, so they were asking questions about what I was doing. With time, they start to believe in it,” says Abu Nowar. “I also look for things on the side of the road. Sometimes, I find broken chairs. I take them and renovate them and then they are usable again.”

Each time Abu Nowar sells an item, he also plants a tree, hoping to give back to the environment. He’s already planted 30 pine trees, and recently, a bunch of oak saplings in the ground.

“My focus is not only to plant trees but to plant trees somewhere people [can] take care of them,” says Abu Nowar. “It doesn’t make sense to put a tree where someone won’t water it. Recently we planted trees at a camp for children. Next, we’ll plant oaks in the suburbs of Amman. Oak trees are the national tree of Jordan, and there aren’t very many of them anymore because they’re cutting down so many trees. Now, we have deforestation issues.”

The issue of recycling in Jordan is a big one, with some non-profits stepping up to help people sort their trash. Raouf Dabbas, senior advisor to the Minister of the Environment in Jordan, told Venture Magazine it’s important for the country to get a recycling program figured out.

“The country is strapped for resources. We haven’t got many and what we have is also very scarce. So, it’s important to cut down on a lot of the costs that we must incur in importing these things: metals, aluminum, glass, paper. Having a recycling system for Jordan is very advantageous,” Dabbas says. He added he thinks 40-60% of waste could be recycled.

PRAKTI’s hope for the future:

Slowly but surely, PRAKTI  is growing, and so is Abu Nowar’s vision. He hopes one day to travel to neighboring villages to teach people and inspire them to upcycle their own goods.

He also wants to open his own shop, maybe hire a few employees. “I’d love to create a community where everyone depends on one another,” he says.

One day, Abu Nowar would like to raise money to help support his mission, but in the meantime, he’s working at an internship with an NGO that helps people in villages find jobs.



Learn more about PRAKTI their Facebook page and Instagram

Photos: Courtesy of PRAKTI.

Kristin Hanes is a journalist who has a passion for the environment, sustainability, and science. She loves telling stories about people who are making a real difference in the world.Kristin Hanes
Check out the initiative asking Jordanians to step up their recycling game | The Switchers
Prakti Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management