Will Lebanon be Able to End its Trash Crisis?

Will Lebanon be Able to End its Trash Crisis?

Ministers Tuesday are set to dedicate a Cabinet session to finding medium and long-term solutions to the country’s chronic waste management issues, amid a worsening national garbage crisis.

Mahmoud Makkieh, Cabinet’s secretary-general, told The Daily Star that the first item on the four-point agenda was a 10-year waste management road map that Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati submitted to the prime minister’s office nearly three months ago.

The other three items are left over from a Cabinet session last week, and include one on cybersecurity, and one related to wastewater treatment.

The session is set to be held at the Grand Serail at 11:30 a.m. A ministerial committee tasked with studying the waste management issue convened at around 7 p.m. Monday, in order to prepare for Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, though details of the discussions had not been released by the time this article went to print.

Jreissati has described Tuesday’s meeting as “decisive.” It comes one day after the expiration of a one-month ultimatum, handed to the government on July 26 by the Southern Suburbs Municipalities Union. The body has said it will prevent garbage from Beirut and Mount Lebanon from entering the Costa Brava landfill, as it did last month, unless it is presented with a long-term plan for the site, which includes a cutoff point for its use.

Meanwhile, the Burj Hammoud landfill is more or less at capacity, and Metn MPs have also voiced opposition to any expansion landfill – itself an emergency solution to the 2015 garbage crisis – unless they are presented with a sustainable plan.

The road map that Cabinet will be studying Tuesday seeks to bring in sorting at source – where households separate their own recyclable and nonrecyclable garbage – and the creation of 25 landfills across the country to absorb refuse as part of a medium-term solution.

Jreissati’s stated goal is to end the informal waste dumping that has seen about 1,000 illegal sites proliferate across the country since the 2015 garbage crisis.

The road map also calls for work to begin on the implementation of long-term waste disposal methods, such as incineration.

This includes the creation of two incinerators: one in northern Deir Ammar and another in either Jiyyeh or Zahrani.

Deir Ammar residents Monday petitioned Prime Minister Saad Hariri to scrap plans to establish an incinerator in their area.

Cabinet has already made preliminary progress on solving a four-month crisis in the north that has seen garbage go uncollected in four districts: Koura, Bsharri, Zgharta and Minyeh-Dinnieh.

In a session last Thursday, Cabinet approved the expropriation of land in the northern Minyeh-Dinnieh town of Ain al-Houakir to establish a landfill for garbage from the northern districts.

The decision came after plans to create a landfill in northern Terbol were met with large protests by locals and Saad Hariri called for the works to be halted.

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