Lebanon has witnessed since 2015 a severe solid waste crisis that had serious health and environmental impacts. The solid waste crisis has recently evolved with the expansion of uncontrolled dumpsites. According to the updated Master Plan for Closure and Rehabilitation of Uncontrolled Dumps througho
ut Lebanon", there exist more than 900 open dumps throughout Lebanon, and open burning has escalated the situation.
Lebanon currently produces about 6,500 tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day, composed of about 52.5% organic matter; 36.5% paper, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass; and 11% inert and other materials. Waste is currently disposed of as follows: about 50% in uncontrolled dumpsites (about 940 dumpsites); about 35% in sanitary landfills (Bourj Hammoud, Ghadir River estuary, and Zahl ); and the remaining waste (about 15%) undergo material recovery, sorted into recyclable or re-useable materials (paper and cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, etc.) or converted into organic soil enhancer/fertilizer in approximately 50 facilities across the Lebanese territories.
In addition to MSW, Lebanon produces about 50,000 tons of hazardous solid waste each year: hazardous industrial chemical waste; electronic waste; expired solid drugs and materials, etc. In addition, there are other wastes such as solid waste from the olive oil industry, slaughterhouse waste, construction and demolition waste, bulky refuse/waste (some of which is currently dumped in the Bsalim landfill), etc. Environmentally sound treatment of hazardous solid waste and other waste is also non-existent, as most are disposed of in a haphazard manner, with the exception of a portion of healthcare hazardous infectious waste that is treated in accordance with the provisions of Decree 13389/2004 and some types of hazardous waste that are exported in accordance with the provisions of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Law 389/1994).
Moreover, and according to the recent "Lebanon Environmental Assessment of the Syrian Conflict" report issued in September 2014 by the Ministry of Environment (MoE), the EU, and the UNDP, the estimated incremental daily quantity of MSW attributed to refugees is expected to reach 324,568 tons per year by end of 2014. This incremental annual waste generated by refugees is significant and is equivalent to 15.7 percent of the solid waste generated by Lebanese citizens prior to the crisis. The highest incremental quantity of solid waste generated by refugees is recorded in Mount Lebanon (Baabda, Matn, Aaley and Chouf), Zahl , Baalbek, Akkar, Tripoli, Minieh, and West Bekaa where the highest numbers of refugees are present and in areas with the highest numbers of Informal Tented Settlements (ITSs) (except for Beirut and Mount Lebanon). The incremental cost for managing and disposing of the waste generated by the refugees in 2014 was estimated to be around 24M USD/year based on the waste management system in place.
The Council of Ministers (CoM) in its meeting of January 11, 2018, has approved the Solid Waste Management Policy covering different aspects such as financial, economic, institutional, strategic, etc. Subsequently, the Minister of Environment, on January 22, 2018 formed a committee of professionals in different fields from within his ministry, supported by consultants working on solid waste management projects within the Ministry of Environment including the UNDP Support to Host-Communities through Integrated Solid Waste Management project funded by the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The role of this committee is to follow up on the execution of the approved policy, to organize conferences in the different Lebanese regions to raise awareness about the policy, and to coordinate with concerned parties, especially UNDP, UNEP, World Bank, and EU, etc. This committee, with the support of an international consultant, will also be responsible for drafting the national strategy for solid waste management.
The solid waste management committee formed within the Ministry of Environment (MoE) by the Minister, prepared a detailed survey form that was distributed to each of the 1,052 municipalities all over the country. The requested info was centered around the number of population including Syrian refugees (if any), the quantities of waste generated, the presence of any treatment (sorting, composting, landfilling) facilities, and the availability of land in case the construction of facility is needed. The municipalities were requested to fill-in the received survey form, sign, stamp, and send back to MoE within a period of 45 days from the date of receipt of the form. The aim of the survey was to identify the municipalities that can manage their own waste and look up for means to support them; and the municipalities that have no capacity to manage their own waste will be considered under the central government strategy. The outcome of this survey should constitute a major tool in drafting the national strategy.
In parallel to the distribution of the survey form, the committee organized, a series of workshops across the country with the aim to introduce the summary of the policy as approved by the CoM (Annex 1), and to explain to the municipalities how to fill-in the survey form. The workshops extended over a period of four weeks, addressing all the municipalities and unions of municipalities.