BEIRUT: Mayor Jamal Itani Tuesday made the case for establishing a waste-to-energy plant in Beirut as an alternative to disposing of garbage in landfills, during a presentation at Beirut Arab University.
Itani screened a video presenting Switzerland’s waste-to-energy plants as an example of a potential solution to Lebanon’s long standing waste crisis.
According to the video, waste-to-energy plants are the third-largest producers of electricity in Switzerland, accounting for just under 4 percent of the power generated in the country.
Itani also gave a PowerPoint presentation outlining a general plan and the design-build-finance-operate-transfer scheme that would be followed to build Beirut's plant.
Itani said it would take three years to build it with an initial 850-ton capacity, and that foreign investment would be required for a 25-year term.
Officials have been considering several emergency solutions for Beirut and Mount Lebanon’s garbage in anticipation of the Burj Hammoud-Jdeideh landfill reaching capacity later this year.
However, civil society groups in Lebanon have long protested waste-to-energy plants, which incinerate garbage and turn it into energy, as a solution to mitigate the country’s trash crisis.
Paul Abi Rached, president of Lebanon Eco Movement, a network of local environmental organizations, said that burning waste is illogical, even to produce energy. Fifty-three percent of waste in Beirut is organic, which can be composted, he said, and roughly 35 percent is recyclable.
“If we only generate 750 tons of waste per day, why are we getting an incinerator that holds 850?” Abi Rached said. The activist said he suspected that because such a high-capacity plant was being proposed, waste would not in fact be sorted on arrival as Itani had said. “They’re going to burn everything,” he said.