Climate Solution presented by:
City & Urban PlanningEnergy controlRecyclingEnergyIndustry & servicesTown & Urban Planning

SMART CELLS™ : recycling and recovery of urban waste

This solution was designed to build an integrated waste treatment and recovery system in emerging countries. Material and energy recovery helps creating new resources and reducing the environmental impacts generated by greenhouse gas emissions. Based on simple technical solutions, called SMART CELLS™, this all-inclusive solution is delivered at an adapted cost and includes the social integration of informal waste pickers.

Detailed Solution description

As a result of population growth, urbanization and economic development, the world’s waste production will nearly double by 2025. Over 70% of waste will be generated in fast-growing areas.

Today, the vast majority of waste is disposed of in open dumps and sub-standard landfill sites. If poorly treated, waste is hazardous for public health and the environment. It is responsible for air and soil pollution, including methane emissions, which are 28 times more powerful than CO2 in terms of greenhouse effects.

Despite the important financing constraints, the situation today is one of opportunity as innovative external financing solutions are becoming more readily available.

Improving waste management is crucial to addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges. That is why SUEZ has developed an integrated household waste treatment and recovery system, which is effective and can be deployed at an adapted cost.

SMART CELLS™ use simple technical solutions to convert waste into valuable materials and energy, capturing the full potential of community resources through:

  • Mechanical and manual sorting to separate and recover valuable materials
  • Efficient pre-treatment solutions before landfilling, transforming waste into new resources such as fuel with high calorific value, compost and fertilizers, biogas, etc.
  • Energy production through biogas generation on the landfill site
  • Intelligent optimization systems of leachate to increase the landfill site’s energy performance
  • An adaptation to local needs

These services are implemented locally following a tailor-made approach, through a suite of five flexible and complementary solutions:

  1. Diagnosis and Strategy: defining a customized action plan through an in-depth analysis, and deploying local acceptance efforts through the implementation of a dialogue with stakeholders
  2. Project Structuring: building a customized contractual model and securing financing
  3. Secured Treatment: design, building and operation of a sanitary landfill
  4. Resource Recovery: capturing the value of waste and promoting a circular economy
  5. Building Local Partnerships: building a professional organization with waste pickers to optimize recycling

The building of a sanitary landfill, along with complimentary recovery solutions, can bring an answer to local waste management needs, protect human health, clean the urban environment and reduce atmospheric pollution. Besides improving the community’s well-being, waste recovery can also support the local economic development and the social integration of informal waste pickers. Finally, SUEZ has developed an innovative and comprehensive approach for transferring knowledge to local operators, helping its clients achieve a high degree of institutional competence and full autonomy.

Launch Date

Implementation began on

July 1st, 2015

Weak points for Solution deployment

Today, in emerging countries, a large part of urban waste is disposed of in open dumps and sub-standard landfill sites. Municipal budgets allocated to waste management are mainly dedicated to collection (50 to 90% of budgets dedicated to collection in emerging countries, vs. less than 10% in developed countries). Waste treatment therefore receives much less funding. More and more, as urban waste volumes increase, this lack of funding creates environmental and sanitary issues. According to the World Bank, the cost of waste treatment will rise from $205.4 bn dollars (2012) to $375.5 bn dollars (2025), with the highest increase being in low and middle-income countries (Source: What a Waste. A global review of Solid Waste Management, World Bank, 2012). The development of financing mechanisms is therefore crucial, and important efforts must be provided.

Key figures illustrating Solution deployment and results

In Meknes, Morocco, SUEZ provides an efficient and sustainable household waste management:
- Rehabilitation of an existing uncontrolled landfill site (22 ha); construction of a sanitary landfill (30 ha) and a compost plant (3,000 m²)
- Controlled disposal, ensuring no pollution through the capture of methane gas. With the installation of the capture mechanism, it is estimated that avoided GHG emissions represent 100,000 tCO2 eq/year (see
- Existing jobs preserved and new jobs created
- Establishment of a cooperative of 150 waste pickers

SUEZ has established its robust waste recovery solutions through other international experiences. For example, every day on the WENT and NENT landfill sites in Hong Kong:
- 3,300 m3 of leachate treated
- 37 MWh of electricity produced
- More than 25,000 m3 of biogas treated and transferred to a domestic gas production facility
The methane capture mechanism installed on these landfills reduces atmospheric pollution. At the NENT landfill site, avoided GHG emissions represent 135,000 tCO2 eq/year.

Performance, impact and results

Protection of human health, cleaning of the urban environment; Reduction of atmospheric pollution (example of Meknes: GHG emissions representing 100,000 tCO2 eq/year avoided for a landfill which receives 185,000 t/year of household waste, with a methane capture rate of about 80%); Encouragement to reuse and recycling

Provision of an effective local waste treatment system and optimization of the existing infrastructure; Jobs creations and social integration of informal waste pickers (example of Meknes: establishment of a cooperative of 150 waste pickers); Improved working conditions and creation of a healthy environment

Production of secondary raw materials and new energy sources; Support to economic growth and improvement of the quality of life; Reduced capital expenditures and secured funding

  • Professional contact
    Louis De Poncheville
    Direction Internationale
  • Press Contact
    Ophélie Godard
    Chargée Médias et Appui Métiers