Recycling in Beirut; a rare thing…

Stunning lamp made of recycled plastic bottles by Sarah Turner

I have lived in Denmark for more than 15 years. Recycling glass, paper, batteries, metal, old paint, obsolete computers was a sure thing. Every item has its bin. For larger stuff (called Big Garbage) the municipality organised a monthly pick up in each neighbourhood. People would gather their broken chair, wooden boards, plastic boxes, you name it, on the sidewalk by their home and wait for the truck to pass by. Some of us would go around and look for treasures among the Big Garbage, and more than once my friend would find something she could repair and repaint and redecorate and voupti a brand new item for her house!

Anyway, that was 20 years ago. Now that i am living in Beirut, my recycling urge has faded as there is no such thing in this country yet. At least i have been told that Sukleen (our famous green garbage men) gather everything and do not separate stuff. Nevertheless, my kids are recycling freaks and we tend to think twice before throwing something away. Even our Nescafe glass jars are re-used and filled with nick naks or rice, sugar, almonds, raisins…

So, i got very excited the other day when New Earth Organic and Eco-store in Beirut placed recycling bins for glass, paper and plastic outside their shop! Wow, that was so progressive (and 20 years too late?), and people have so far responded positively to that (at least on facebook!). Lets hope this project doesn’t stay a virtual one!

The Initiative is wonderful, BUT; the shop is difficult to access as it lays in one-way side street with zero parking possibilities. Imagine a Lebanese women parking 2 blocks away, walking back to the shop with glass and paper garbage to recycle!! Not in her lifetime! …But i will..

Will you?

Start teaching your kids to think in recycling mode.. it could save some trees and keep some oxygen left for them to breath..

Here are some links for recycling batteries and plastic caps (for a good cause) in Beirut!

1. New Earth:

1. Bouchons Roulants (for recycling bottle caps):!/group.php?gid=89915440810&v=wall&ref=ts

2. Beeatoona (for batteries):!/profile.php?id=100000704146413&v=wall&ref=ts


8 thoughts on “Recycling in Beirut; a rare thing…

  1. Happy for you that someone is becomming more aware. It a long journey and as you point out: easy access is the key. Now on our recycling places, they have made it possible to “exchange”. If you have something that is not broken you can set is aside for others to take and it is perfectly okay. Toys, bikes, furniture, anything really. Anyway sweety – you are on the right track. As some old native indian said sometime long ago:

    “Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money.” -Cree Proverb

    And like this one to:
    “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

    Have a wonderful day.


  2. Interesting. I have a question and a comment. First, what are these businesses doing with the recyclables they are collecting? Is it just a feel-good measure for customers and then they turn around and put it in with all the Sukleen trash? I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but I recently became aware that the university in our town in the grand ol’ US of A was doing just that. They have students separate recyclables from trash and then recombine it at the collection site!
    Second, while Lebanon doesn’t have official recycling, I have seen many, many poor people who rummage through the garbage and separate out recyclables for their own re-use or profit. Perhaps Lebanese ARE recycling, but it is a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down. Let me know what you think.

    1. Dear Samara,
      You are right on both cases. Yes Sukleen recombines the trash, but that is the only way to teach people to start thinking in recycling mode. Europe used this tactic way back and it took years before the actual recycling was done. A huge system is needed after the collect and we do not have that yet. Still, you have people going through the garbage everyday; metal pieces, soda cans and wood are gathered and sold. But bottles and plastic remain. Old food is eaten by cats! so yes we have a bottom-up approach but need citizens to be more aware of their garbage habits yesterday rather than tomorrow!

  3. Hi Leelouz,

    thank you for sharing those facebook groups!!! was and still looking for recycling solution in Lebanon. Hopefully we will get there one day! Cheers!

    1. thank you for reading… recycling is a huge paradox in this country. so much to do, so much to learn, but many are starting incentives and with hopefully more awareness on the subject, people can start thinking in “recycling-mode”…one step at a time!

  4. Leelouz,

    I was doing some research about recycling in Lebanon with an attempt to start a business there (recycling plant) so I ran into your post. Very funny; sad but funny nevertheless. To be honest with you, putting the Lebanese pride aside, if a citizen finds him/herself cheeted day after day by the system he will become careless and always justifying his acts by blaming the system; not just in Lebanon but even in the modernized world as we call it. Why should they care about recycling if they know that at the end of the day it is not doing any good! If the system provides recycling, I guarantee you the Lebanese women will be in line walking for blocks to rid of recycables. They have always proved to be the pioneers in taking responsibility and this is no different to them. Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this issue and hope I can do my part to improve our lives.

    1. hello Hassan, sorry for this late reply, i just returned from a long vacation. thank you for your comment. It is good to know that there is a will to make our world a better place, but as you said there is a long way for that in Lebanon. however, i am seeing many new initiatives popping up, and if we focus on educating our children in recycling matters, then we CAN make a difference!

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