Recycling Company In Beirut Got Fined For Picking Up Garbage

Marwan Tahtah

Last weekend, Lebanon’s capital city was humiliatingly flooded in piles of garbage. The hot humid air was filled with the ghastly stench of accumulated waste. As if Lebanon didn’t have enough issues.

A social enterprise based in Beirut thought it is only fitting to help mend the garbage issue before it aggravates further. However, instead of being praised for its efforts, it got fined by the authorities.

Recycle Beirut (RB) is a self-sufficient 12-employee enterprise that was launched in 2005 in response to the evolving environmental and humanitarian crisis in Lebanon.

It has a solar energy facility in Jnah, Beirut, where it processes weekly about a dozen tons of recyclable material, from over 2000 customers.

Days ago, RB took the initiative to send its trucks to help alleviate the piling waste crisis. The last thing it expected was to get fined for doing so.

The961 tried to get in touch with Recycle Beirut, but the NGO has not yet made a comment. However, according to a friend of the NGO’s founder, the organization was fined for not having a “license to clean garbage.”

Surprisingly, laws like that are enforced in Lebanon, but not equally so apparently since fines are not imposed on those responsible for the waste piling up in the streets and causing health hazards to the citizens.

Just recently, a lawsuit was filed by the Litani River Authority against the Municipality of Gazza, a Lebanese village in the Beqaa, for turning a large agricultural land into a horrific waste dump poisoning the land and the river.

There has been no report on whether the Gazza municipality got fined or whether it has a license to create a massive waste dump on that land.

Back to Beirut, the reason garbage was piling up in the first place was that RAMCO employees went on strike for three consecutive days to demand their salaries in USD.

The migrant workers have been protesting to be paid as per their contracts.

The government owes the company $7 million, according to RAMCO. So to get the city cleaned quickly, Beirut’s municipality paid a major portion of this amount (in Lebanese currency).

But whether Recycle Beirut’s fine is justified by a certain law, the government not paying its dues and allowing such a health-hazard crisis, which isn’t new in Lebanon, is not justified.

Garbage piling up in the streets and in residential areas is an issue Lebanese have had to endure for years now.

Consequently, this isn’t the first time people in Lebanon take action into their own hands to restore some order to their surroundings when the government fails to do its part.

During the October revolution, for instance, protesters all over Lebanon took it upon themselves to clean the streets from the garbage left to pile up. They gathered every morning to clean for the sake of the environment and the residents’ health.

The same actions were taken by the people and local organizations during the 2015-2016 garbage crisis upheaval.

It is universally known that laws are created for one main purpose that sums up into protecting people’s rights and ensuring order.

In this case, none of that was evident, not the people’s right to live in a healthy environment and certainly not order.

It is but natural that, in the long absence of those, people take upon themselves to both protect themselves and restore a semblance of order in the environment they live in.

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