Once again, the issue of the incinerators that the Beirut Municipality is pushing for, is brought to light with a projected meeting taking place at the municipality to pass the agreement on moving forward with the project despite objections from key local experts and environmentalists, and no clear information on the project’s location or indicators on the project’s environmental costs and health risks on surrounding communities, as well as its economic feasibility.
Promoted as “waste-to-energy” plant, claims about converting harvested energy from incineration into electricity, poses another issue that is subject to a lot of irony and criticism in itself. It is estimated that more than 50% of Lebanon’s waste, estimated at 4,000 tons daily, consists of organic material with a low calorific value, i.e. with a low flammability, that would not create the energy needed to generate electricity.
Local experts and environmentalists argue that unlike Europe, where incinerators have been successfully deployed, Lebanon does not have the required infrastructure or governance to control generated toxic emissions. Also, the project plan does not reveal what happens to the toxic ashes resulting from incineration. A broader scientific outlook on this project and foreseen consequences has been addressed in a lead article in Responsible Business magazine, issue No.27, titled “No Trust, No Dust: Incinerators are not a suitable solution for Lebanon.”
Worth noting that even the European Union has already begun phasing out its own incinerators after they were shown to encourage greater waste production, and EU member states operating incinerators were challenged to suspend the development of new facilities and decommissioning old ones. Rather than burning waste, the EU has proposed other, more eco-friendly solutions for waste management, most significantly waste prevention on all levelsstarting from production before reaching consumption. But it is clear in Lebanon that parties supporting the project are choosing the lowest-hanging fruit.
Better and less costly solutions definitely exist least of which rehabilitating existing composting facilities and developing the recycling industry. Yet, a more innovative solution calls for a complete shift to a zero-waste economy and rethinking business models and supply chains where resource use gets optimized and completely regenerated. This economic model defined as the Circular Economy is the theme of our 9th CSR LEBANON FORUM on October 3.
Circular Economy is THE SOLUTION for Lebanon’s waste dilemma and a catalyst for achieving the SDGs. It presents a holistic approach to waste management and makes business sense for adopters.
The EU considers that waste production, not recycling, is one of the best indicators of our progress towards sustainable development. This is the essence of the Circular Economy.
Join our Forum to learn more about the different models, principles, metrics and regulations of the Circular Economy, sectors involved, strategies, enabling environment and market drivers, and technological disruptions.
Author: Ghada Hassan
Photo Credit: Caricature Armand Homsi, published in Annahar Newspaper, 5 July 2019