Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. I’m sure we’re all aware of our landfill problems. We’ve heard about this problem on the news. We’ve heard it while watching Marcel Ghanem’s show. We even smell it every time we pass Burj Hammoud. Luckily for us, though, we could be witnessing positive change soon.

Ziad Abichaker is an environmental and industrial engineer who develops waste management systems designed to achieve a zero waste. He created a company called “Cedar Environmental” pertaining to waste management, and brought it to Lebanon (from New Jersey) in 1996. 15 years later, this company has founded 10 solid waste treatment plants across Lebanon, has the capacity to process 46,000 tons of waste annually, and produced organic compost called Vieverte. What is perhaps most innovative is that Cedar Environmental  is developing “Eco-Board”, a durable material made entirely from recycled plastic bags. When this product goes on the market, almost all waste that enters a Cedar Environmental plant will exit in a different and usable form. Hence, we will be able to put our waste to be better use, and use an eco-friendly product when we need plastic.

Interestingly, Cedar Environmental discourages centralizing waste management and instead advocates that every community can have its own waste management recycling plant. Stating that his company has a technique by which odors and the time spent working with the garbage are minimized (composting the garbage inside a steel drum and accelerating the process by adding an enzymatic and bacterial preparation), this should be advantageous to all. After all, we bicker as to where we are willling to place our waste management plants on the basis of sectarianism; the Christian-Sunni-Shi’ite-Druze divide is so deep that we aren’t even willing to process each other’s garbage. Thus we live with a large deficit in waste management facilities and prefer to live in our own trash.

Hmmm.

As such the set-up could be advantageous to us politically, environmentally, and economically, as we do not spend extra on the transportation and storage of trash. Indeed, Abi Chaker estimates that the use of these plants would cost roughly 6,ooo L.L. per household per month. That is far less than your health bill after the effects of garbage have infiltrated your body over extensive periods of time, and worth living in a healthier environment.

Lebanon, I maintain that this is an awesome initiative.  In a country like ours where so much of our waste…well, goes to waste, opening more recycling plants, using organic compost, and creating new recycled materials like Eco-Board is really advantageous. Think about it. In Beirut and Mount Lebanon alone, only 300 out of 2,500 tons get composted per day, and the rest goes to the Naameh landfill. The landfill in Saida is over four stories high. When you think about it, we have over 700 landfills in the country, most of which are illegal. How long are we willing to put up with the pollution of our country and the deterioration of our health? So let’s do it. Let us encourage the creation of more recycling plants and more effective waste management. 

Aside from the fact that this is good news for our country, I think it is important to note that this is that a  citizen-based initiative. It came from us.  Lebanon, our country needs more initiatives like this, where we step up and tackle our problems. Enough shrugging our shoulders saying “this is Lebanon” and not effecting positive change. Enough living in our own garbage. Let us come together and rehabilitate our country. We can do it, Lebanon!!

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