Beirut, December 20, 2022 – A new US$8.86 million grant will help Lebanon reduce harmful emissions from open burning of solid waste, improve solid waste management including recycling and composting at the municipal level, and reduce the exposure of residents of the North and South of the country to hazardous substances.
The Reduction of Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants through Waste Management in a Circular Economy project, signed today by H.E. Lebanese Minister of Environment Nasser Yassine and World Bank Mashreq Country Director, Jean-Christophe Carret, is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world’s largest funder of biodiversity protection, nature restoration, pollution reduction, and climate change response in developing countries.
Well before the current economic and financial crisis, Lebanon was already facing severe environmental challenges. In 2018, the annual cost of environmental degradation reached 4.4% of GDP -equivalent to US$2.39 billion, Since then, conditions have worsened, with severely impeded delivery of basic public services, increased pollution levels and further depleted natural resources. The disruption of the solid waste sector is reflected in a massive drop in service levels: less than 8% of collected household waste is being treated, over 40% of this waste ends up in open dumps, and there is limited adherence to the solid waste hierarchy which prioritizes waste reduction, re-use, recycling and conversion over disposal.
“Despite mounting challenges, Lebanon has made progress in developing a solid legal basis for integrated solid waste management and a draft National Strategy based on the principles of circular economy,” said Jean-Christophe Carret, World Bank Mashreq Director. “Going forward, Lebanon needs to enforce environmental governance with the implementation of sector reforms to achieve resource recovery opportunities and to ensure the financial sustainability of strongly needed infrastructure investments which can create green jobs.”
Over the past years, open dumping and open burning of solid waste have consistently increased in Lebanon. Open burning of solid waste releases highly toxic Unintentional Persistent Organic Pollutants (UPOPs) into the air, in addition to residues seeping into water and land resources.The project aims to address critical barriers for reducing UPOPs emitted from the waste disposal and open burning processes and minimizing impacts to public health and environmental risks stemming from UPOPs emissions.
The reduction of UPOPs project aims to strengthn the policy framework, build capacity and enhance long-term planning for applying circular economy approaches in waste management. It will also safely divert municipal solid waste from uncontrolled open dumps vulnerable to repetitive open burning in selected areas in the North and South of Lebanon. The project will directly benefit people living in the areas surrounding open waste dumps, which are exposed to the risk of contamination via air, water, and food chain.
“The project will prevent open dumping of solid waste in the selected areas in the North and South of the country through the development of an integrated solid waste management system in these waste service zones. It will also coduct in-depth assessments of these areas and of the disposal sites to confirm the technical, financial, and institutional feasibility of interventions, based on the Ministry of Environment’s strategy for an integrated management of the sector.” said HE Nasser Yassine, Lebanese Minister of Environment. “We look forward to initiate this project which will also complement our collaboration with the World Bank in solid waste management operations underway in other service zones including Beirut, Matn and the Upper Litani Basin.”