Waste Crisis Renews in Lebanon

Waste Crisis Renews in Lebanon

Thursday, 5 July, 2018 - 12:00
File photo: A dump in Lebanon. Aziz Taher/Reuters
Beirut - Sanaa el-Jack
A waste crisis at the dump of the coastal southern city of Sidon has resurfaced, possibly opening the door to renewed crises in other Lebanese regions in the coming months.

The environmental disaster is inevitable in light of improper policies on dumping waste, an issue that came to the limelight in 2015 after anti-government street protests sparked a “social revolution.”

After the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon witnessed heaps of rubbish, endangering the environment and people’s lives, around 100,000 citizens protested outside the Grand Serail, occupied the ministry of environment and forced the government of Tammam Salam to seek solutions.

The cabinet then took a decision for the temporary establishment of dumps in Bourj Hammoud (North Metn) and Costa Brava (South Metn) after shutting down the Naameh landfill in the Shouf district.

But such a solution wasn’t enough to end Lebanon’s waste crisis, which drew the attention of not only the local press but also international media outlets such as the CNN.

Professor Habib Maalouf, an environmentalist, told Asharq Al-Awsat that on average, each individual generates more than one kilogram of waste on a daily basis, a rate higher than the global average, which ranges between 500 grams and one kilogram in both rich and poor countries.

Addressing the crisis requires first and foremost a study on our production, consumption and commercial system, he said.

There should be priorities such as the reduction of waste, mainly free plastic bags, he added.

Maalouf stressed a strategy is required to benefit the treasury, “but no one wants that.”

There should be a permanent and not a temporary plan to come up with laws and determine the roles of each side in waste treatment through environment-friendly and transparent measures.

Environmental Engineer Ziad Abou Shaker told Asharq Al-Awsat that the government’s failure in finding solutions to the waste crisis started with the end of the Civil War in 1990.

The reason lies in each influential politician seeking to lay his hands on the file for lucrative contracts.

Abou Shaker added that those in charge with resolving the crisis are relying on advisers with limited levels of experience who seek swift and magical solutions. 

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