What’s the Latest Development?

The 2009 outbreak of swine flu in Mexico led to a variety of startled responses throughout the world. In Egypt, authorities ordered an immediate slaughter of all pigs. “Pigs used to play a central role in [Cairo’s] rudimentary waste management system. But since a 2009 health code outlawed the practice of owning pigs that feed on garbage,” the massive waste problem for the city’s 19 million residents has continued to build. Turmoil from the Arab Spring and subsequent election of a new Egyptian government has done nothing to improve the garbage situation.

What’s the Big Idea?

In the old system, trash collectors would sort through the garbage for recyclables and then leave organic waste for garbage eating pigs. Since the ban on pigs, “Trash cans are often overflowing and garbage is routinely left on sidewalks and empty lots, resulting in a nauseating smell and attracting rats and flies.” The newly elected government has made promises to restore the nation’s infrastructure and remove the piling garbage. Officials hope to deal with the trash problem by changing Egyptian's current views about littering and paying incentives to companies that excel at removing garbage. There has been no official mention, though, of reinstating the pigs.

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