A waste problem
In the absence of a national recycling plan, the waste problem has become increasingly troubling in Lebanon.
In a country well-known for its natural beauty and scenery, mountains of garbage, and landfills could be regarded as somewhat of a downer. With an estimated 4.5 million population, the size of waste in Lebanon, including domestic, industrial and medical waste, is estimated to be almost 4,000 tons on a daily basis or around 1.5 million tons annually. However, in the absence of a waste treatment plan, long awaited solutions have yet to arrive.
A waste management strategy once applied, should involve a reduction in the volume of waste, according to experts. In 1997, the Cabinet approved an emergency plan, submitted by the Ministry of Environment. The plan was mainly based on the rehabilitation of the A’amroussieh plant and the burning of around 600 tons per day of solid domestic waste, in addition to the rehabilitation of the Karantina plant. The plan, however, has remained ink on paper. Today, municipalities are collecting waste from the outskirts of towns and villages. The untreated and un-recycled waste is transported to containers, uncontrolled dumpsites and landfills. Furthermore, throwing recyclable materials and organic substances in landfills exacerbate the problem, leading to an increase in the quantities of dumped waste, say experts.
The existing recycling plants only recycle 10 percent of the total amount of waste produced in the country, around 400 tons of waste a day, ranging from paper to glass, metal, plastic and motor oil. The environmental benefits of recycling are many. For instance, paper recycling reduces the need to cut down trees, saves space in landfills, and uses less energy. Recycling one ton of office paper can save 17 trees, 60,000 gallons of water, 225 kilowatt hours and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, according to Carnegie Mellon University. There are no official recycling plants in Lebanon that deal with toxic waste generated from hospitals and electronic toxic waste such as batteries and PC monitors.
In Lebanon, waste collection company Sukleen is in charge of collecting garbage and cleaning the streets while Sukomi treats landfilling. As the collection of garbage costs $128 million yearly, the lack of a waste management plan has been a major challenge to the government for years. Despite the funds spent to end the waste disaster in Lebanon, nothing has yet been done. At home, the government’ priorities are to foster the establishment of recycling plants, adopt technological improvements for recycling and launch national awareness campaigns.
Environmental experts have repeatedly called for the application of a zero-waste policy being crucial to solve the dire situation. This policy would aim to minimize waste, reduce pollution and encourage Lebanese citizens to separate waste at home to make it easier to recycle.
Projects ahead Within this context and with the aim to urge the Lebanese to separate their garbage into recyclable and organic bins, a new recycling campaign entitled “Think BeforeYou Throw” was launched in Lebanon as part of a European Commission initiative. The separation of garbage at home would make it easier to recycle and therefore help the process of recycling to become more cost-effective.
On its website, the delegation of the EU to Lebanon mentioned that in December 2005 it signed a protocol with OMSAR, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities. The protocol assigns the management of the EU-funded projects to OMSAR, for the amount of 14.2 million Euros. “The municipal investment projects in solid waste management” has resulted in the construction of 12 solid waste facilities (five of which are already finalized in Shouf Swaijani, Khiam, Tyre, Ansar and Abbassieh), the delivery of 13.788 solid waste collection containers and 59 solid waste collection and handling vehicles.
With the hope of encouraging Lebanese to reduce, reuse, and recycle, the recycling process has taken on a humanitarian aspect in Lebanon. A project launched by the non-governmental organization Arcenciel helps with funding for wheelchairs by selling collected plastic bottles tops to recycling companies. Within the “Bouchons Roulants” project, every one ton of collected tops will fund one wheelchair.
There is no doubt that recycling primarily helps boost the economy. According to experts, the reduction of the amount of waste thrown in landfills helps preserve the environment and provide a sustainable industry that contributes to the economy. Additionally, products produced from recycled products reduce pollution from the initial manufacturing of the product, while at the same time boosting its economic value through resale.
STRATEGIES & PLANS
A fundraising event, entitled Think Green, will be held by Zero Waste ACT for all its business members on September, 10,2013, at WHITE, Dora.
The Green Mind Association invited all Green Mind Award Participants, finalists, runner ups and winners to the GREEN MIND DAY on Jan-16-2013 in Beirut, to create a platform where interested Venture Capital and Potential Investors met with participants.
A green initiative launched by Ashrafieh 2020 project aims to transform Ashrafieh into a tranquil and unpolluted area.Green spaces allow residents to walk and ride bicycles.