Amid Lebanon's severe financial crisis that has left eight in 10 people poor, a waste sorting facility in Beirut suburbs is encouraging recycling with its "Drive Throw" service where people drop their recyclable trash in return for money.
Landfills and dumpsites - many infamously known as “garbage mountains” - have mushroomed across Lebanon since the 1990s. The mess peaked in 2015 when the capital’s main landfill shut down, after running well beyond its expiry date.
Politicians wrangled over what to do, and the trash crisis of 2015 sparked a protest movement. It became a glaring symbol of a sectarian power system unable to meet basic needs like electricity and water.
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Sensing an opportunity, Pierre Baaklini launched ‘Lebanon Waste Management’ in 2019 - a sorting and recycling facility in Bauchrieh in the northern suburbs of Beirut.
He used his own car to collect trash that can be recycled and delivered it to sorting facilities.
In June, he launched a "Drive Throw" service, where people drive their cars to drop their trash including metal, plastic and paper in exchange for much-needed cash.
"We reached a point amid this economic crisis where we wanted to turn the crisis into a glimpse of hope by buying the garbage directly from individuals by the kilogram, no matter the quantity," Baaklini said.
Laura Fares is a Lebanese woman who took the initiative of collecting trash from neighbours and relatives to deliver them to the "Drive Throw" point, bringing bags loaded with plastic bottles and cardboard.
Some users of the service can donate the trash-generated money to local charities supporting the elderly.
Lebanon Waste Management, hiring more than 25 workers, is one of several facilities offering trash for cash to people amid the country's severe financial crisis that has left eight in 10 people poor.
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