BEIRUT: On our way to Recycle Beirut tons of pictures crossed our mind. We were trying to draw an image to what this plant would look like. Google directions were our guide to find the place located in Ouzai area, knowing that the whole path didn’t have any billboard, flyer or even a sign that shows the presence of a recycling plant.
When we arrived, we realized that what we imagined to be a big place turned out to be a normal warehouse. Recycling activities were taking place all around us; tons of plastic bags were laying around with recyclable material compiled in them.
Among the workers were Syrian women, some of which stood before a huge container that is divided into several sections, each labeled for a different type of plastic. These women follow the recycling steps meticulously. Step one is the sorting technique. However, the way they were dressed was somehow alarming.
They were dressed in regular clothes with only plastic gloves, which was alarming due to a lack of precautionary and protective garment. For instance, an apron or a special costume would have been more suitable, especially that the gloves they were wearing were too thin and not safe enough to protect them from whatever they were touching.
Apart from that, they were doing their job quite well, moving from one step to another, which takes us to the second step, known as compression, which is when each kind of plastic is taken and compressed to take the shape of thin plates. These plates are taken and grouped aside to be shipped for different organizations that purchase them per ton.
Plastics pallets are used by companies to recreate plastic bottles, and Recycle Beirut has connections with over 20 companies that use these pallets.
Further, plastic fruit boxes are kept aside for shredding in order to reduce the space they take to look like colored snowflakes.
It is important to note that Recycle Beirut has around 20 workers including Syrian refugees, Palestinians, and Lebanese. Their main goal is to empower working women and get them engaged in the workforce.
They provide job opportunities for the community including different nationalities. They consider their organization a small business, and their profits are small compared to other bigger businesses. Despite that, however, there's a sense of pride and purpose involved in the task, since it contributes to an environmental change, no matter how small, which is a point that the manager at Recycle Beirut, Khaled Kazak, made.
Recycling Beirut also has done some recycling metal work, from metal leftovers to build stairs that lead to a roof. This roof leads to a solar farm that generates electricity, which is environmentally friendly.
Their journey has gained them around 2,000 customers and they’re still working hard to have an even bigger impact on people’s health.
This photo shows compiled plastic waste to be recycled by Recycle Beirut. (Annahar Photo)
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