Sustainable approach to solving a global challenge (Lebanon Garbage Crisis)

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2017

11 Pages, Grade: 1.5




Main landfill (The Naameh landfill)

Background information

Sustainable solution

Smart technology

Sustainability Design Criteria

ZenRobotics Recycler (ZRR)

How it works


Sustainable Approach to Solving a Global Challenge (Lebanon Garbage Crisis)


The modern world is fast growing and in particular with the widespread urbanization growth. This has as a result exerted massive pressure on the available amenities allocation (Diaz, 2011). Specifically, major urban areas around the world are currently unable to manage solid waste sufficiently and in the most sustainable manner. In that regard, such targets like the Millennium Development Goals specially aimed at boosting clean water and sanitation within cities, towns and villages have proved unfeasible (UNEP, 2015). A typical example of such a case includes the Lebanon’s garbage crisis that has has attracted the global attention with majority of the instituted solutions indicating unsatisfactory results. The problem has evidently been on high increase despite the intervention measures. The recent closure of its main landfill has consequently disrupted treatment, disposal and storage processes causing high accumulation of trash within streets. Besides, the inconveniences caused by the move has seen the proliferation of informal dumping sites all over the municipalities. The effects are evident threatening the overall wellbeing of people and the environment in general.Blocked roads systems due to the overflowing garbage piles have likewise inconvenienced humanitarian interventions especially amongst the most vulnerable areas.

Main landfill (The Naameh landfill)

The Naameh landfill was then and still considered to have been the main dumpsite for all the waste generated within Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Its closure on July 15, 2015 was mainly instigated by activists and residents of Naameh hence the reason for the current garbage crisis in the country. Naameh is basically a village in the south of Lebanon that has for quite some time been characterized by high poverty with complete lack of basic social amenities like water and electricity.Furthermore, it is the site at which the landfill is located. As such, the residents under the support of activists have for years been involved in protests demanding such basic needs and the threat posed by the landfill (Ghadban, Shames &Mayaleh, 2017). The landfill, for instance, has been a source of dumpsite for all manner of wastes with uncontrolled waste management practices including the inappropriate toxic waste facilitation.

Background information

The landfill was initially a site of a dissolute quarry (Civil Society Knowledge Centre, 2016). It is located within Chouf province and district of Mount Lebanon and strategically situated 16 km to the south of city of Beirut. It harbors the Mediterranean Sea 4 km offshore at an approximate altitude of 250 m above sea level. At the time of opening, it had an expected total waste capacity of 3 million tons of solid waste with a projected life of around 10 years (Environmental Justice Atlas, 2016).This was in the year 1998. However, by 2002, the daily disposals were way far beyond the expectations receiving over 2,000 tons per day with most of the sources coming from the city of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. This led to an extension of its lifetime on several occasions. By the year 2001, the landfill was by far filled up against the expectations. It had accumulated over 12 million tons of waste by 2012 even attaining a height of 20 m in all the three designed cells (Morsi, 2017).

There are indications that the wastes included both industrial and hospital wastes alongside other hazardous wastes like paint, used automotive waste and grease amongst many others though the municipality reports showed that the landfill only accommodated solid wastes (Environmental Justice Atlas, 2016). This was by all means a threat to the nearby water bodies especially the Mediterranean Sea and the nearby ecosystems. The mention treatment of treatment served as a proof that the landfill was a threat to the surrounding environment. Leachates were evident and the generation rates measured within the period of April 1998 to April 2000 showed an average rate of 150 L per ton of waste(Environmental Justice Atlas, 2016). This and according to researchers was way too high for any given pre-stored waste. This is in most cases contributed by high presence of organic matter in such a dumpsite and the factor of rainfall. Surprisingly, the findings represented characteristics analogous to 10-15 years old landfills.

Though the closure of the landfill had partially been pushed by activists and the nearby residents issues of unsanitary conditions and capacity concerns also compelled the responsible authorities to reconsider the move.Governmental agencies that included the ministry of environment, ministry of interior and municipalities, council for development and reconstruction (CDR) and the municipality of Naameh have since been involved in the institution of committees comprising of industrial experts in search of both temporal and permanent solutions to address the issue (Trochu, 2016)). This has a result seen the proposal of numerous solutions. Amongst them was the reopening of the landfill basically in the absence of immediate contingency measures and the severity of the situation (Environmental Justice Atlas, 2016). Though the landfill ended up being reopened, it was subsequently closed within two months after sustained complaints from the Naameh residents.

With no other immediate alternative, the committees devised a plan to ship wastes to landfills in foreign countries after an eight month emergency with thousands of tons of wastes pilling along streets. This however never took place and eventually the government opted to build temporary landfills to the southern and northern regions of city of Beirut namely Costa Brava and Bourj Hammound landfills respectively. Nonetheless, similar criticism have been received though Costa Brava has proceeded substantially alleviating the situation. Its plans to reconsider initiating energy recovery programs mostly through the use of incinerators has increasingly received media attention with indicators that improper management could even be more hazardous than the landfills themselves.Regardless, all the proposals have proved quite unsustainable and certainly a cause for worsening the situation (Chaaban, 2016).

With the ensuing mayhem, the situation is being managed by a privately owned company, Sukleen, which is also affiliated to Averda with its origins from Saudi Arabia and the Sukomi. Both the companies are being involved in the waste collections, processing it and storing in the nearby parking lots of the Bourj Hammound landfill under construction. In spite of this, the crisis is technically unmanageable with the deteriorating sanitationthreatening health conditions in the area(Chaaban, 2016). Though it has been established that political influences and the increasing population growth as well as the lack of transparency in terms of regulations and inconsistency in law enforcement serves as the major barriers to an effective waste management, sustainable approaches can be employed to manage the area on long term basis and in the most effective manner.

Sustainable solution

Smart technology

Basically, populations at municipality levelsthroughout the world has always been on the high increase. This is technically implies more and more trash generally complicating the existing waste management strategies. In that vein, there is the need to thoroughly examine the field by improvising and adopting more viable as well as sustainable measures to adequately combat the rather growing menace.The use of robotics is undeniably the last resort in managing and recycling waste in the contemporary world. A suitable way to achieve this is by engaging garbage-sorting robots (Meyers,2016). In this case, domestic garbage is sorted with the organics being composed appropriately for methane production thus reducing the amounts for landfills.

Lebanon stands to benefit from the increasing use of robotics in waste management. An installation of a waste-to-energy facility (commonly referred to as the WTE) is particularly the most suitable option for the current crisis in the country. It is specially a 4th generation kind of incineration facility capable of performing a number of tasks at a go (ZenRobotics, 2017).For instance, setting such a plant within three strategic locations around the country collectively have the capacity of processing over2.5 million of tons of the municipal solid wastes on annual basis.

In addition, the arrangement is also designed to to produce around 197 MW of electricity and an estimated 470672 Btu/h of heat that can sufficiently support the neighboring industrial processes or simply distributed for locational heating purposes (ZenRobotics, 2017). Most importantly, the system has the advantage in that it stands out to reduce waste volumes in terms of transportation. A significant number of wastes can be minimized on daily basis by transporting directly from households and businesses to the facilities rather than dumping/landfilling most of the wastes (ZenRobotics, 2017). Accompanied by a state-of-the-art emission control techniques, the facilities are capable of reducing gaseous emissions to within standards set by the Ministry of Environment.


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Sustainable approach to solving a global challenge (Lebanon Garbage Crisis)
Egerton University
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sustainable, lebanon, garbage, crisis
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Anthony Kithome (Author), 2017, Sustainable approach to solving a global challenge (Lebanon Garbage Crisis), Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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