No easy solutions at Waste Management Expo

 Waste management exhibition in Beirut, April 9, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

“We aspire to treat 80 percent of our waste and landfill 20 percent,” Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati announced Tuesday at the opening of this week’s Waste Management Expo at the Hilton Beirut Metropolitan Palace. It is a grand ambition; Lebanon currently landfills 80 percent of its waste and treats roughly 20 percent.

Over the course of the three-day conference, which closed Thursday, stakeholders discussed “ideas in a scientific way far from political outbidding ... to see what is best suited for our country,” Jresissait said.

But the variety of possible treatments showcased during Tuesday’s expo highlighted the lack of political consensus on the long-overdue response to Lebanon’s waste crisis. Notably, significant disagreement remains on what to do with items that cannot be recycled or composted.

The conference hosted a series of technical presentations alongside 38 local and international firms specializing in various fields from awareness-raising to vermicomposting.

A priority of the UNDP and Environment Ministry’s new “Integrated Solid Waste Strategy,” developed over the past four months in line with the Solid Waste Management Law of 2018, is to “promote waste management hierarchy,” the UNDP’s Solid Waste Management Coordinator Basma ElArab told the audience.