Lebanon News

Recycling company rolls out campaign against UN

IQLIM AL-KHARROUB, Lebanon: After the 2015 trash crisis that drowned the country in garbage, some parts of Lebanon are still suffering from overflowing waste. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT: Local business Recycle Beirut is saying “enough is enough,” accusing U.N. Resident Humanitarian Coordinator in Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini of diverting money into “ineffective” waste management projects and exacerbating Lebanon’s trash crisis.

“Two years ago we came to Philippe Lazzarini with a plan to divert 80 percent of Beirut’s waste through recycling and composting. He refused. The result is that waste is now being dumped in the sea at the rate of 3,000 tons per day,” Kassem Kazak, founder of Recycle Beirut, told The Daily Star.

“We are the only scaleable recycling company working in Beirut, serving more than 10,000 customers monthly. And yet Mr. Lazzarini stubbornly refuses to help, instead dispersing tens of millions of dollars to countless failed, corrupt projects.”

According to a Facebook post published by the company Thursday morning, Recycle Beirut had proposed to Lazzarini to upgrade its sorting facility and construct six drop-off warehouses around Beirut to increase residents’ accessibility to recycling options.

Lack of funds, and no aid from the United Nations, has reportedly prevented them from moving forward on the plan.

Under the hashtag #whatareyoudoingphillipe, Recycle Beirut has asked the public to join the campaign by calling and emailing Lazzarini’s office to urge funding for sustainable waste management practices.

In a response to a request for comment, the office of the U.N. resident coordinator said: “Promoting environmental protection and natural resource management, including the effective management of solid waste, is a key priority for the U.N. in Lebanon. The U.N. is providing support to the Ministry of Environment and local authorities and through Non-Governmental Institutions to promote waste reduction, recycling and proper waste management. We welcome private sector initiatives to complement the efforts of Lebanese institutions and NGOs.”

According to the U.N. Development Programme website, $16.7 million out of its $64.2 million budget for 2017 has been allocated towards environmental governance. The agency has engaged in several projects in waste management this year, including the rehabilitation of Sidon’s dumpsite.

Recycle Beirut’s campaign was met with both praise and criticism online, sparking a debate over whether or not responsibility for waste management should fall to the U.N. or the Lebanese government.

“You’re pointing your finger to the wrong people, U.N. is an international NGO ... it’s the government’s responsibility to handle such projects,” Pascale Khoury commented in one post.

But Mostapha Mneimneh noted separately that “there should be an international interference to stop this. Lebanon is killing the sea life.”

Founded in 2015, Recycle Beirut offers recycling pickup services for those living in the capital and its surrounding areas. While several other services exist, Recycle Beirut is arguably the most popular option, recognized by local environmentalists and citizens for its consistency and acceptance of a wide range of recyclables.

 

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