Lebanese don’t usually need an excuse to party but they might need an incentive to recycle. Albeit one of the only countries at the COP18 climate change negotiations to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, Lebanon has a shoddy recycling record – mostly because it lacks the necessary infrastructure.
Which is why the NGO Food Enthusiasts Recycling Nutrients (FERN) is taking matters into their own hands. On the first Thursday of every month the group hosts an awareness and fundraising event at Tawlet – a restaurant in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood to promote the speedier uptake of both organic and non-organic recycling.
FERN teaches restaurants and hotels around Lebanon how to separate recyclable and non-recyclable waste, a process that is not well understood. Knowing which materials can be recycled and which can’t can be a nebulous process – even for the most experienced recycler.
Once processed, FERN collects the recyclables twice a day.
Eventually they will also collect organic waste for composting, which will be transformed into organic fertilizer. But they won’t do that until they are certain that the scraps have not been contaminated.
The organization teamed up with Tawlet in order to generate awareness about recycling and to raise funds. $25 gets participants a barbecue dinner with beer and wine aplenty. The beer is provided by the 961 microbrewery and the wine by Ixsir winery.
Roughly 63% of Lebanon’s organic waste piles up in landfills, where it generates heat-trapping methane into the atmosphere, Daily Star reports.
Glass, metals and plastic are rarely recycled, laying waste a perfectly good resource that can be re-used in a number of applications.
But sorting the waste prior to collection cuts costs, which is why FERN is devoting so much energy to training new partners.
The group has also reached out to various schools throughout the country to further reinforce the mandate to recycle.
“Schools are an essential intervention for recycling,” president and co-founder of FERN Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli told Daily Star.
“It’s hard to quantify the potential environmental and economic benefits of instilling knowledge of the importance of waste as a collection of valuable organic and recyclable materials, rather than thinking of ‘garbage’ as a burden to individuals and municipalities.”
:: Daily Star
Image of waste training via FERN Facebook Page