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Nov 10, 2017

Lebanon: Is Incineration really the answer ?

By Nour Kanso

Lebanon has been heading the news regionally and internationally and not because of its famous landmarks or its favorable weather but because of its waste crisis. It’s truly sad how a beautiful country with so much potential suffers from a problem that can be easily solved and yet its been two years with no clear and transparent plan but divided opinions and conflicts.

The topic of incineration as a only solution to a long lasting crisis has been a debatable option between the public , NGOs, institutions and the government. One is for and the other is against. In a recent conference at AUB’s Issam Fares Institute, an associate professor said that “Incineration is an extremely expensive technology that requires a lot of investment in environmental protections”.

Incinerators emit several pollutants based on the type of the waste , which causes health deterioration and environmental degradation. Most dangerous pollutants emitted are particulate matter, dioxins and furans, CO,NOx,SOx and metals. The process of combustion present a significant risk to environment and public health. More importantly , the main impact on health is the higher occurrence of cancer and respiratory symptoms; other possible effects are congenital abnormalities and hormonal defects. In regards to environment, global warming, acidification, photochemical ozone or smog formation,
eutrophication, and human and animal toxicity are all possible outcomes of incineration. As such, an economical and environment-friendly technologies should be adopted otherwise we are on a dangerous path of endangering human, animal , and plant life and other resources.

The reason why the government sees incineration as an attractive option is because it eliminates the need for landfills as well as generating electricity which helps in providing more energy to household especially that the country suffered from a lot of electricity cuts during summer. Nevertheless, Lebanon doesn’t have the adequate infrastructure, regulatory authority to monitor the emissions of the plants, qualified staff to understand the complexity of this process. Moreover, the country doesn’t have the labs necessary to measure and monitor some of the more dangerous byproducts.

Overall , incineration does not align with Lebanon’s waste composition as its mostly organic and is not source separated and therefore much eco-friendly options can be adopted and exercised starting with sorting at the source and moving to recycling and composting.


Sharma, R., Sharma, M., Sharma, R., et al. (2013). The impact of incinerators on human health and
environment. Reviews on Environmental Health, 28(1), pp. 67-72. Retrieved 10 Nov. 2017, from doi:
Daily Star. (2017).Experts warn against waste incineration. Retrieved from: