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Lebanon: Government’s Waste Plan Faces Wide Objection

Lebanon: Government’s Waste Plan Faces Wide Objection

Friday, 30 August, 2019 - 07:30
Jreissati presents his waste plan during a news conference on Thursday (NNA).
Beirut - Paula Astih

A plan put forward by the Ministry of Environment and approved by the government to address the waste crisis failed to receive widespread popular support and the consent of a large number of environmentalists, as it includes a decision to establish three incinerators and 25 landfills.

While objectors said the plan lacked studies of environmental and economic impacts, Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati considered that the file required “non-popular decisions”, stressing that neither security nor environmental files could be dealt with by mutual consent.

Lebanon is mired in a waste crisis that exploded in 2015. Over the past 22 years, successive governments have only implemented contingency plans, by expanding landfills for example. 90 percent of the country’s waste is dumped, instead of finding radical and decentralized solutions.

In a press conference on Thursday, Jreissati said that he “inherited a thousand random dumpsites, and there is no option but to turn them into 25 sanitary landfills.”

“We no longer have another chance. This is the last cartridge, otherwise, the waste can return to the street every minute and every hour,” he warned.

The new waste plan includes solutions that reduce waste production and impose duties and taxes on contaminating products such as nylon and plastic. It also promotes recycling, sorting from the source, as well as waste treatment and composting, leading to the establishment of sanitary landfills.

MP Paula Yacoubian described the plan as “catastrophic”, especially as it approves the building of three incinerators “while Lebanon doesn't need any of them because of the quality of its waste.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Yacoubian noted that the plan did not include a clear and complete vision of the mechanism to sort from the source, nor did it offer practical steps to reduce waste.

Environmental Expert Samar Khalil stressed that the government has adopted the plan without a prior agreement on an integrated waste management strategy.

“There are no environmental or economic assessment studies either for incinerators or landfills, and the ministry relies on old studies dating back to 2006, knowing that the conditions in the sites identified 13 years ago are likely to have changed,” she told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Greenpeace Middle East and North Africa campaign officer Julian Jreissati also condemned the imposition of three incinerators that he said: “could be a disaster for the country.”

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