Posted by: r.m. | July 24, 2015

Trash: a window into the “governance” problems in Lebanon

Yes, we have a trash problem in Lebanon. Yes, we now have a serious trash problem in Beirut. (

[for pictures: click here]
So what should we do about it?

Groan and complain about the smell and the sight and “the coming of the plague” and just want it all to go away? Go away where?

– To be incinerated where it will be then transformed into poison and carcinogen? (See: about the dangers of incineration)

– Go to another landfill so it fills other people’s neighborhoods and upsets *their* lives and not ours because so long as we, in Beirut, don’t see and don’t smell it, then all is okay? Keep in mind that landfills are not designed properly, and thus impact environmental health and public health. Look at any of the 7 main landfills in Lebanon today – and you can see the dangers of these landfills. Case in point: look at Saida, where the UNDP was involved and the “management” of the landfill has resulted in further environmental damage!

– Throw more of our trash into the sea and then “reclaim” more land from the sea and create more economic profit for our rich real-estate millionaires and destroy more of our fragile Mediterranean Sea?

No. Let’s see it for what it is.

– a production of excess waste by ourselves, so a need to examine our own ways of life (Beirut and its neighborhoods produce up to 3000 tons/a day) (see: for ways to reduce our own personal garbage)

– a failure of government, truly. There was no surprise in this case; the government – every minister and every MP – knew of this situation. See this excellent interview with Bassam Kantar – as Kantar explains, the critical responsibility is to the Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR). Seven governments have all failed

– an economic corruption where the alleged-management of our waste by Sukleen is arguably the most expensive (and still failed) waste management in the world. The collection and disposal of waste in Beirut and Mount Lebanon currently costs $130 per ton of garbage. This is almost three times the $38 per ton paid in Amman, Jordan and astronomically larger than the $20 per ton paid in Cairo. See this one example of their corruption, in collusion with CDR – and here is another very brief report while look at this problem that Sweden now has: (

– a failure to realize that these waste are not really waste. Approximately 60-70% of our waste is organic waste — in other words, beautifully rich for compost! Furthermore, as Ziad Abichaker has shown – every bit of our waste in Lebanon (no exception) can be re-used or recycled. (See: – As Ziad Abi Chaker writes: “As #Beirutdrowns in #garbage we are using that same #recycledgarbage to mount a #vertical #Greenwall at #Mayrig#Gemmayze 36,660 #plastic bags were transformed into#Ecoboard and used to make this wall…#compost from#Slaughterhouse waste was added to the growing media for maximum fertility…600 evergreen plants will be used in just 10 … As of tomorrow, part of the #garbage #Beirut is drowning under these days will be on display at #mayrig #Gemmayze transformed into a fertile #Greenwall … that garbage making the city awful today will make it #green one day very very soon…and that’s a promise… #Recycling#sustainability #vertical #garden #urban

We have solutions available, wonderful solutions that would transform our waste into gardens, and lead to ZERO landfills and ZERO incinerators. Let’s push for that route.

In the meantime, see this link for recycling centers:



  1. Sums it up nicely…how would you feel about waste to energy (as opposed to incineration)?

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