Since August 2015, Lebanon has been facing a continuous waste management crisis. In a bid to solve this problem, the Municipality of Beirut has put forward a plan to construct a waste incinerator (waste-to-energy plant). On October 10, 2016 a conference was held along with the head of the municipality of Copenhagen in a bid to share experience in the waste management sector, and in which the Municipality’s plan to launch a tender to convert waste into energy was presented. 
On April 6, 2017, the Beirut Municipality launched a tender for waste collection and the establishment of the necessary infrastructure for waste separation while firms interested in investing in the incinerator were expected to apply by the 2nd of May. 
This raised the fears of the residents of Karantina, and industrial neighborhood of the capital, where an incinerator was first proposed and protested in 1997. They held a protest along with political representatives on August 30, 2017 to affirm their opposition to a waste-to-energy project promoted by the municipality, which they say is no different from an incinerator and therefore poses a health hazard. Residents of Karantina – an area where the air is already polluted by the two open-air dumps nearby – oppose the proposal in fear the incineration of waste will result in even greater damage to the environment. 
Among the concerns raised by the project’s opponents are the environmental risks implicated by ash byproducts from the combustion, which require appropriate treatment, as well as the goal of the project. They argue that plants like these produce heat and, to a lesser extent, energy, which is of no use in Lebanon since the country doesn’t have a cold climate. 
A group of academics at the American University of Beirut, united in the Collaborative for the Study of Inhaled and Atmospheric Aerosols, held a conference in presenting scientific evidence against the adoption of incinerators. 
The president of the Municipal Council dismissed the resident’s concerns, claiming that “the location will be risk-free to the people in the area and all measures will be taken to ensure that it will not bother residents but instead enhance the economy of the area.” Local activists in the area voiced suspicions of a possible connection between the choice of Karantina and the presence of Jihad al-Arab’s company – Al-Jihad for Commerce and Contracting – among the four joint ventures pre-selected as bidders. JCC has been awarded several public construction projects in the past – some of which have been in or adjacent to Karantina – including the former Normandy dumpsite, the Karantina and Amrousieh waste sorting plants, as well as a storage facility and the Coral composting facility in Burj Hammoud. All of these projects have been subject to public criticism over alleged mismanagement, sparking debate as to whether JCC should be empowered to operate yet another facility. Alongside JCC, the other local pre-qualified contractors include Wassim Ammache’s Ramco, Antoine Azour’s Batco and Michel Abi Nader’s Man. They have each partnered up with international companies – respectively Doosan (Korean), Hitachi (Japanese), and Vinci (French). JCC has partnered with Suez (French) and another international company. 
More recently, and after the release of a Human Rights Watch report on burning of wastes in Lebanon, the Waste Management Coalition was created in Lebanon which aims to pressure the government to find sustainable solutions for the still-unsolved trash problem. The coalition's main objective is to pressure the authorities responsible for solid waste management in Lebanon to produce and apply a sustainable strategy that relies on integrated solid waste management. The group is demanding that the government implement the reduction of waste generation at the source, the reuse and recycling of waste and finally disposal using the appropriate techniques that comply with national and international environmental regulations. The coalition recently launched a petition to try and pressure the government to properly manage the country’s waste and to stay away from incinerators claiming that they do not constitute a reasonable and sustainable solution to manage the country’s waste. 
In early 2018, a documentary called “An Incinerator For Beirut? A Documentary” was released, in a bid to make the population well informed about this technology and to be able to form their own opinion about its feasibility in Beirut and its impact on their immediate living environment and health. 
Despite protests and clear-cut demands put forward in a petition to the government in 2015, national authorities confirm that plans to increase the amount of waste-to-energy plants in Beirut are advancing with the cooperation of the United Nations Development Programme . Apart from that, a 2019 interview with Fadi Jreissati, Lebanon’s Minister of the Environment, reveals that the government’s two-year waste management roadmap will introduce a household taxation system. Each household will be subject to a tax of 10,000 Lebanese pounds per month (approximately $6.63 dollars). The funds of this tax will then be used to by municipalities to improve their sweeping and waste-collection activities .
After Sukleen suspended its operations in 2017, solid waste in Beirut and almost all Mount Lebanon districts is currently collected and managed by Ramco , a large private corporation that also has engineering and real estate interests. Ramco has boasted about its line of environmentally-friendly technology, notably its Euro 5 emission-standard vehicles .
A 2017 report on waste management, published by Lebanon’s ministry of environment, reported that Ramco’s districts produced 2,850 tons of waste a day, roughly 51 percent of all waste in Lebanon .
Even if collection bins of three different kinds have been placed in both under- and above ground collection points , observations and videos that have circulated in activist networks show that Ramco’s standard practice seems to be to dump all garbage from the separate bins into the same truck . “This makes recycling and composting virtually impossible since broken glass bottles are mixed with organic material” expressed environmental engineer and activist Ziad Abi Chaker .
Both the continuation of waste-to-energy projects in cooperation with the United Nations, the proposed taxation system and Ramco’s faulty recycling efforts fail to address a very important group when it comes to recycling waste: wastepickers.
In Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, there are hundreds of disadvantaged Lebanese and Syrian refugees who recycle to put food on the table and are able to do so, precisely because the Lebanese government has grossly mismanaged its solid waste streams .
Many of the wastepickers are children like Omar (alias), a Syrian refugee who collects tin cans and brings them to an empty lot in a neighborhood in Beirut called Zuqaq al-Blat. The owner of this lot pays those who bring him waste 1000 Lebanese pounds ($0.66) per kilogram of tin cans. The labour these minors perform is subject to long hours rummaging through the garbage without masks, gloves, or any safety equipment . The reason this situation is especially prevalent among Syrian refugees is linked to the fact that the Lebanese ministry of foreign affairs order the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) to suspend refugee registration in May 2015 . In a number of cases, Syrian refugees have also been required to sign commitments to not work , which obviously increases the financial pressure on families and explains the high amount of child labour in the informal recycling sector.
Fortunately, a multitude of NGO’s and businesses attempt to fill the gap left by the state when it comes to the consideration of the informal waste sector in Beirut. An example is Recycle Beirut, one of several initiatives that arose after the metropolitan area’s largest landfill was closed and garbage piled up in the streets of Beirut, spurring a wave of protests. Recycle Beirut has a small underground warehouse in Bir Hassan, just south of Beirut. Its staff of Lebanese and registered Syrian refugees (approximately 20, of which nearly half are women) pick up, sort and process reclycable materials and send them to factories for which they are paid a living wage, receive basic health insurance and social support .
Recycle Beirut has been praised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. But it and other NGOs can’t solve the whole city’s garbage problem, and a network of informal trash-recyclers has emerged. Due to the limited cooperation with municipal government, NGO’s like Recycly Beirut face constraints in how much they are able to recycle and the amount of wastepickers they are able to employ in their facilities. Given that their collection programs are opt-in, their expansion fully relies on an increase of the households and firms that subscribe to them, most of which are from the middle- and upper-class neighborhoods in Beirut . While this is an esteemed effort at autonomously tackling a waste problem, it’s questionable whether it can be scaled up within sufficient amount of time.