World Environment Day: Possible solutions to Lebanon’s pollution

The solution to the waste problem in Lebanon needs to start at home.
by Rolande El Ghusayni

5 June 2018 | 16:29

Source: by Annahar

  • by Rolande El Ghusayni
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 5 June 2018 | 16:29

This photo shows men surveying the piles of garbage washed ashore after an extended storm at the Zouq Mosbeh coastal town, north of Beirut. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: In Lebanon, air pollution, inadequate water supply, sanitation, along with hazardous waste, are leading to harmful living conditions. Nevertheless, as the garbage crisis is far from being solved, many projects are being implemented to help clean up the pollution.

It is critical to address pollution, especially given that an estimated 12.6 million people die from environmental health risks annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Many local initiatives are helping counter the garbage crisis with recycling being one of the most sustainable solutions to this issue.

“Recycling is the only solution all over the world and not only in Lebanon, with regards to the trash crisis; when we mix all the garbage together, we reach a point where it becomes hard to extract the material that can be recycled, and thus we need to sort waste from the source,” Kassem Kazaz, Founder, and CEO of Recycle Beirut, told Annahar.

Recycle Beirut will pick up a month’s worth of bagged plastic disposables from many locations in Beirut and Metn for a small fee. A potential customer pin-drops their location, arranges a schedule and Recycle Beirut shows up; users of the service note that a month of plastic is not an inconsiderable amount.

However, the problem is that there aren’t many recycling containers and facilities in the country where people can casually dispose their trash while heading to school, university, or office.

Yet there are many easy ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

LiveLoveRecycle app is an initiative done by Live Love Beirut, which is a youth NGO with support from the French NGO ACTED and funding from the United Nations’ World Food Program, where people who are willing to recycle download the app and request a maximum of two free bag pickups from their homes twice a month.

People can start sorting in their homes, offices or even at schools, and request a pickup using the app. Arc-en-Ciel, a Lebanese based non-profit NGO, which supports Lebanon’s most underprivileged and marginalized communities, sends someone on an eco-friendly electric bike who will arrive in about 30 minutes to pick up the sorted bags to be recycled.

The solution to the waste problem in Lebanon needs to start at home.

It doesn’t take any effort to put aside all the plastic, paper, and metal cans, instead of throwing them in the garbage, according to Fares Ismail, a student who recycles regularly.

“When I have enough to fill up two bags, I request a pickup, and 20 minutes later, someone is there to pick the bags; the entire process is extremely simple and effortless and I really hope a lot more people start using this service more often,” Ismail told Annahar.

As to the initiative, he thinks it’s incredible and the fact that it came from NGOs is really impressive, in that they’re “succeeding where our government failed.”

Ganatch, an association that encourages households to recycle in Lebanon and supports the recycling community, paves the way for a greener country as well.

This NGO works similarly to Live Love Recycle. Subscribing with Ganatch allows for a pickup of recyclables from residents in Metn and Beirut, sending them to a sorting facility.

Adding to the list of Lebanese recyclers, Hanine El Mir, told Annahar, “I have dealt with a fair share of NGOs who recycle and care for the environment, like Arc-en-Ciel for bottle caps and Recycle Beirut, and now I want to try the new app LiveLoveRecycle.”

Furthermore, two free bag pick-ups are not enough, there are other initiatives willing to help in exchange for a small fee. Recycle Beirut is a recycling venture that offers regular pickups for all items, including glass.

“Last year we used to pick up glass and send them to a glass factory, however the factory closed, and there’s nothing we can do now but take the glass, crush it to have its size reduced to 85% and burry it in the landfill,” Kazak said.

Recycle Beirut charges 10$, a pickup per household or business and 5$ per household if the whole building wants to sign up. They pick up non-organic material from businesses, residential buildings, and embassies, organizations in the Beirut, Metn and Baabda area.

This startup rents a warehouse in Ouzei where the collected recyclables are sorted, and then sells them to factories around the country. “I am a proud customer of Beirut Recycle, which picks up monthly a considerable amount of plastic bottles and cardboard; $10 fee, it’s worth it,” a longtime expat told Annahar.

“Our goal is to reach the highest number of Lebanese lands as a lot of people want to recycle, but have limited possibilities,” the startup founder said.


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