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Beirut.com 27 Jul 2012

Zero Waste: Existing Challenges

Following the adoption of the Council of Ministers on 31 August 2010 for the use of incineration as a way to get rid of waste, a number of environmental associations met to discuss this serious issue and agree on ways to solve this emerging problem. These associations were soon joined by other associations of the civil society and many academics in the field to announce the establishment of the “Lebanese Zero Waste Coalition” which aims at urging the government to develop an environmentally sustainable national policy for the management of the solid waste in Lebanon.

After two years of its establishment, the Lebanese Zero Waste Coalition organized a conference entitled “Zero Waste: Existing Challenges” on Friday, July 27th, 2012 at 6pm in Safir Heliopolitan Hotel – Beirut.

The conference aimed at presenting the coalition’s achievements to date. The Zerowaste coalition presented also the existing and upcoming challenges faced while offering an integrated strategy to confront the impending danger of incinerators. An open discussion was held after the conference.

It is noted that incineration technology is not the ideal solution to a sustainable solid waste management due to:
• It Consumes Energy and does not produce it
• It is Polluting: contains carcinogenic toxic emissions, such as Dioxin and other heavy metals
• It is Expensive: Cost surpasses worth of equipment and spare parts to filters, disposing polluted water, and the ash landfill
• It is Difficult to operate and maintain; previous experiences have shown that it is filled with technical and financial problems in developed countries, as many of them failed to keep the emissions at a safe level causing them to shutdown the incinerator
• It is Destructive: Drains energy and materials and hinders the local economic development
• It is Not Sustainable
• Hampers efforts to reduce and avoid the production of waste and prevents sorting and recycling.
• Inconsistent with the Stockholm Convention items, which are approved by the Lebanese Parliament in 2002, that abolish these hazardous materials, and resorting to alternative means of waste management by 2025

In light of the following the Zero Waste Coalition developed a sustainable solid waste management plan based on the following:
• Resource management and material recovery for further gradual removal of the non-recoverable wastes
• Composting and recycling of more than 80% of wastes in a short time
• The need to create composting plants distributed in all Lebanon
• Development of customs incentives for companies for recovering their waste
• Develop incentives to encourage citizens to sort from the source in line with the principle of “polluter pays”
• Develop a recycling industry to secure the discharge of substances that are sorted

It is worth noting that Incineration produces one ton of ashes out of 4 burned tons of waste all loaded with Dioxin whereas waste sorting would actually leave 20% for dumping.