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Oct 19, 2016

Zero Waste Lebanon

Garbage is seen piled near residential buildings in Wadi al-Zayneh, Chouf district, Lebanon January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

By: Nour Kanso

It has been a year and half since the waste crisis in Lebanon began, and since this time it has not been solved or merely improved. Solutions that you mostly hear about involve landfilling and incineration but none involve recycling, reusing or even composting. Given that the scale of the problem keeps getting bigger and bigger, the government is intending on getting rid of the waste that is being accumulated and hopefully start over again. 

Currently, most of Beirut’s (Capitol) waste is being disposed at a newly constructed landfill in southern Beirut, known as Costa Brava Landfill. The landfill is not complete, however some cells have been fully constructed and are now filled with waste. One must ask, once this landfill reaches its capacity where will the waste go? Will Lebanon fall into the same loop again? 

This is where Ziad Abi Chaker’s Zero Waste Lebanon idea comes into the picture. On the 11th of October 2016, a documentary was screened at the American university of Beirut. The documentary tackled Lebanon’s most critical waste problem and proposed the simple solutions to it. It starts with having a non-centralized system which takes control over the collection, sorting and treatment of waste. The idea of such a system is having the waste close to the source. Moreover, getting the local-level (e.g. municipalities) involved with operating their own integrated waste management systems which is the bulk of this decentralized system. Previous experiences have proven that the government is unable to control the waste in a proper way leading to this current waste crisis. As such, having such a system implemented removes the responsibility and shifts it to the local level or even the private sector. The main advantages of such a system prove to be mostly: localized collection, reduction in road pollution and maintenance costs as well as t diesel cost and traffic congestion. 

The Zero Waste Facility that Ziad Abi Chaker talks about in his video is not far from reality but is actually being implemented. This Facility, located in Mount Lebanon, uses every bit of waste generated and turns it into something useful. Even the small inert materials are turned into boards using an Eco-board technology. The plastics, carton, cans and glass are recycled and the organics are composted therefore having no waste sent to landfills. A more technical review of the process will be given in a separate post. 

This helps place focus on the 3Rs principles and treatment options rather than landfilling which is heavily relied on in Lebanon. Initiatives such as these give hope and inspiration, as it is not difficult at all to have a zero waste community. The society has to realize that landfilling is not the only option and there are much better and useful alternatives. This was the primary message and aim of the video. As such, the TV outlets, social media and citizens should put more focus on these inspiring initiatives in-hope of elevating some actual action and change in this current crisis.

About the author:
Nour works as an Environmental Consultant at Assessment and Management Bureau company (A.M.B S.A.L) based in Beirut, Lebanon. The private company specializes in waste management contracting, sustainable development and other environmental services. She has worked on numerous environmental impact assessment reports and waste management proposals and tenders in Lebanon. Nour is currently serving as a project coordinator for a solid waste sorting and composting facility in Lebanon.
She holds a Masters in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London specializing in environmental analysis and assessment and a Bachelors in Environmental Health with a minor in Public Health from the American University of Beirut. In her free time, she likes to volunteer in environmental related causes as to bring more attention and awareness about the solid waste issues.