Shred Up Halabja: Recycling project gives a glimpse of hope

With the help of Wadi and the local NGO Nwe a recycling center was set up in Halabja that tries to confront the bombardment of plastic waste in the region.

By Salam Omar, Kirkuk Now, 10.04.2023


Bottles collected in the Halabja Recycling Center, Picture: Wadi e. V.

As the bombardment of plastic waste is underway, several vigilant boys and girls in Halabja want to reduce environmental pollution through a recycling factory.

More than 150 tonnes of garbage is collected daily in Halabja province, located 240 km northeast of Baghdad. According to a table approved by the Halabja Municipality, only on October 23, 2022, about (153) tonnes of garbage was collected in the five municipalities of the province, of which about (13) tonnes of plastic waste, over 7.5 tonnes were inside the city of Halabja.

Most of the waste is eventually dumped underground, leaving an impact for decades. Most of Halabja’s garbage is dumped in a ditch several kilometers outside the city, near the lovely village of Tapa Kura.

Shinyar Yadgar Mawlud, an electrical engineer and supervisor of the Shred Up Halabja Recycling Center, said the purpose of the initiative has two main objectives: First, to boost environmental awareness about the harmful effects of plastics and encourage people not to use plastics at all, and if they do, send them back for recycling. The second is to clean up the environment of Halabja from the piles of plastic waste.


Halabja is likely to become the newest province in Iraq. On March 16, 2023, the Iraqi Council of Ministers approved the bill to turn Halabja from a district into a province. The draft bill was sent to the Iraqi parliament to endorse the bill and approve Halabja as the nineteenth province of the country.


March 16 marks the anniversary of the chemical attack on the city by the former Iraqi regime in 1988, in which 5,000 people were killed, and 10,000 others were injured,

The chemical attack on Halabja has caused a human and environmental disaster since its effects are still visible. Emad Fairuz, director of the hospital for treatment of chemical weapons victims in Halabja, said, „Of the 2,300 chemical weapons patients who regularly visit the hospital for treatment, 2,000 are from Halabja“.

The population of Halabja province is 68,958 people, according to the Central Statistical Agency of the Iraqi Ministry of Planning in 2019. However, according to the Halabja office of the Independent High Commission for Elections and Referendum in the Kurdistan Region, the population of the Halabja city center is 80 thousand and 940 people.

Shinyar was not born during the chemical bombardment of Halabja, but she says she has many memories of the environmental disaster through her parents, despite the human damage.

„Yes, yes! They keep telling me that most of the animals, both domestic and wild, have perished; they have seen their remains scattered on the ground. They say that most of the trees in the city have dried up and died.”

Blur beginning, clear path

It is the beginning of a new day at the end of March. Shinyar has transformed herself beautifully and is ready to tell the story of her project. The other members of the team have filled the factory with positive energy; Six staff work daily in the factory, which covers an area of only 250 square meters.

Inside the Halabja Recyclinc Center, Pictures: Wadi e.V

The Shred Up recycling plant in Halabja has passed through two stages; The first phase of environmental awareness began with awareness raising in schools and the distribution of special bins for plastic collection. In each school, students were divided into groups and educated about the importance of protecting the environment.

The second step was the installation of the factory equipment, which cost about 10,000 US dollars.

“Most of the equipment is locally manufactured,” Shinyar says. The aim of manufacturing the equipment locally is that if someone or another party wants to launch a similar project, they can provide them with the necessary guidance and assistance.

On March 16, 2022, the Recycling Center in Halabja was launched by Wadi, a German non-profit organization. New Organization in Halabja, and the Shred Up NGO are also partners in this project. The Halabja recycling project is one of the projects funded by Wadi.

Wadi, which means valley in Arabic, Association for Crisis Assistance and Development Cooperation, supports various projects to empower women and youth in the Middle East for 30 years.

Brochure about the Recycling Center, download here

Bakhan Jamal, Wadi’s project supervisor, said the Halabja project was an experiment to see if such projects can be implemented locally.

„After the success of the Halabja recycling experiment, we decided to take the project to other places that have suffered great environmental damage, including Kifri and Kapartw camp in Duhok,” Jamal said.

Plastic waste is collected from schools, homes, and other public places   and transported to the factory. Although plastic has many uses, people have become accustomed to disposing of it immediately after its first use. Such practice has adverse environmental, health, economic, and social consequences.

 About 400 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced worldwide annually. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute; About five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually. Overall, half of all plastic products are disposable.

„The legal way ensures the limited use of plastic,“ said Sarwar Qaradaghi, director of the Kurdistan Nature Organization, a civil society organization. In April 2021, the organization submitted a draft bill to the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament to limit the import and production of plastics. Parliament has sent the proposal to the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG for their position, but „the process has stopped there.”

Article 3 of the bill calls to double taxes on imported plastic materials and on domestic plastic products by 75%. Meanwhile, Article 4 prohibits the use of plastic materials.

There are seven types of plastic in general and the Halabja factory accepts all types. Some are unfit for reuse because they release harmful gases during boiling or heating. The first type is pressed and transported to the large factories in Sulaymaniyah; Type II (HDPE) and Type V (PP) are recyclable.

The Halabja Recycling Center is part of Wadi’s larger campaign to #KeepKurdistanGreen. Please consider supporting these important projects with your donation.