Established: Known for:
1999 Waste management and recycling pioneer in Lebanon
Sort your garbage at home and take it to a drop off point in Badaro, Nahr El Mot and soon in Beit Mery
01 389409, 03 293222, cedarenv.com
How to get involved:
“I got into this whole mess when I was 19,” jokes environmental and industrial engineer, Ziad Abi Chaker, from his Beirut office made almost solely from recycled material. “I fell in love with this kind of work after I was approached by my professor who got a grant to research composting techniques and I got hooked since then.” He later founded waste management company Cedar Environmental that works with municipalities to build recycling facilities and developed Dynamic Composting, a technology that speeds up the composting period from 90 to just three days.
“We have a different approach than classical waste management. We look at waste from a sustainable point of view, as a resource. Our understanding of recycling is remanufacturing goods into new products,” he says. The household waste they recycle becomes raw material: food waste can be used as organic fertilizer, and plastic bottles for cushioning in furniture making, plastic bags become eco boards. These plastic panels that the company has developed can be transformed into chairs, street-recycling bins or even mounting for vertical green wall structures. “We can divert a plastic bag from ending up in a landfill or a forest and transform it into a wall with greenery all year around,” Abi Chaker says. “Imagine if all these buildings had green walls on them made from plastic bags and the compost was made of organic waste. It’s not science fiction. This is something we have done already. We’ve proven that it’s feasible.”
Until now, Cedar Environmental’s recycling plants have been developed in south Lebanon with local municipalities in locations such as Khirbit Silim, Aytaroun and Naqoura. But their success shows the potential for introducing recycling plants around the country. At their peak, prior to the July 2006 war, which damaged some of their plants, the company was recycling around 48,000 tons of garbage each year.
In the near future, Abi Chaker hopes to have recycling plants in the areas hit hardest by Lebanon’s waste crisis, such as Beirut and Mount Lebanon.
Since the country’s only glass manufacturing plant was destroyed in the 2006 war, around 71 million green and amber bottles have been dumped in landfills every year. Cedar Environmental launched the Green Glass Recycling Initiative – Lebanon (GGRIL,
ggrilebanon) in 2013 as a solution to the problem. “I met up with Sarafand, a traditional glass blowing company, and they were on the brink of bankruptcy. We decided to put one and one together and see how we could address the crisis of recycling green glass and them having no sales. This is how it started. Since then it’s been a success,” Abi Chaker says.
He believes the waste crisis has changed the course of the country’s history in terms of waste management. “No one can monopolize it anymore. Municipalities have to take matters into their own hands. If they don’t do anything they are going to be buried in garbage. Recycling is the right thing to do on all levels, environmentally, health wise and economically.” Abi Chaker is also positive about the DIY role of individual initiatives in finding solutions to the crisis. “This is a very dynamic society. We see problems and we want to tackle them. We come from a long history of it,” he says.